Quora's first class of 492 "Top Writers," who have contributed an average of 350 answers each, will now have a little pen-and-ink badge show up on their profile pages, similar to the blue checks that decorate verified Twitter accounts. Quora's Marc Bodnick tells Fast Company the Q&A site plans to name a new class of Top Writers each year, based on their contributions over the past year and whether or not they have expertise in unique topics. This first class of Top Writers also includes users who haven't necessarily been active recently, but who have regardless contributed high-quality answers in the past.
"The genesis for this idea came from us looking at how much the site has grown into so many different topics," Bodnick says. "Many people just aren't aware of new users who have just joined the site and are contributing great content in all these different areas."
The accolade also comes with custom Quora T-shirts and forthcoming "other surprises" Bodnick wouldn't disclose, but he says the main benefit to the Top Writers initiative is the recognition factor.
Quora has introduced other features that cater to contributors, the most infamous of which was Views, which broadcasted a select overview of which threads people were viewing so authors could get a better sense of who was consuming their content on Quora. Users got so uncomfortable that Quora ditched the feature after a couple of weeks.
Quora doesn't reveal its user numbers, but Bodnick says there are more than 250,000 topics of discussion on the site. He says although right now Quora doesn't let you see which topics Top Writers are most influential about (which is what Klout does), he says he could see a future version that would include this.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the natural questions-and-answer pages on the site start to show which areas people have strengths in," he says.
[Image: Flickr user Vee-vee]