What do the most upvoted answers on Quora have in common and what can be learned from them?

Posted on Posted in Quora Matter, Social Network Writings
Answer by Will Wister:
I looked at about 100 answers — the top answers listed at What answers on Quora have the most upvotes? I went through this quickly, and I'm not sure if I properly categorized everything, but I just wanted to get a rough idea of what was voted up. The answers below all have more than 3000 upvotes.

One major overarching theme was the popularity of original stories from people's lives. I would put 29 answers in that category.

A second major theme was the popularity of answers that spotlighted original ideas. In total, there were 25 answers that shared original photographs, an original screenplay idea, life advice (all people give different life advice, based on their own experiences, so I view this as unique to them), and original, creative analogies that were requested by a question or were helpful in answering it.

A third theme was that Quora rewards excellent explanations that say something very well or strike a chord. I would put 19 answers in that category.

The fourth theme was that Quora can be used to spotlight content from outside of Quora. I would put 19 answers in that category. I include 4 answers from the "best of x" category there because it's sharing something generally recognized outside of Quora.

A fifth but lesser theme is that sometimes Quora appreciates short, funny or sarcastic responses to a question that still make an effort to answer the question in some way. 6 answers fit this description.

So the big takeaways are that Quora really values your unique stories, your unique ideas, your ability to explain things well — or in a way that resonates, and your desire to share things on the site. So if you come across a question that allows you to share one of those things, you may be producing something that others may value.

It's also worth noting that sometimes people's lives may give them unique perspectives on a particular question that may allow them to answer better than the vast majority of other people out there.

Entertaining/funny/moving/interesting original, personal story:
Entertaining/funny/moving original story that speaks to a larger trend:
Original stories where people did a good deed:
Original Stories where people went through something difficult and persevered:
Original brief, funny anecdotes:


Entertaining/funny/moving/original analogy that helps shed light on a larger problem/issue/concept:
Entertaining/funny/moving/original hyothetical scenario:
Original idea in response to a question:
Original screenplay idea:
Original photographs:
Life advice/life lessons:

Answers that said something well or explained something well
Answers that struck a chord, explaining something:

Answer that spotlighted something that should be seen from outside of Quora:
Best of X type questions:

A few of them are funny or sarcastic responses that still answer a question:
What do the most upvoted answers on Quora have in common and what can be learned from them?