It looks as if Quora is bringing a new level of authority to its legal and medical-related content. This could end up being great for search, depending on how Google ranks the content.
Quora announced the addition of new legal and medical disclaimers, new policies for legal and medical questions/answers, and a new addition to its terms of service aimed at providing protection for doctors and lawyers who write answers. The announcement says:
This is an exclusive feature available only to licensed doctors and attorneys and law and medical students. Why only these users? Because these professionals have professional license-related constraints on their online behavior, including: (1) duties of confidentiality to clients & patients and (2) the obligation not to inadvertently create a client or patient relationship through contact on the Web. The intent of our new policies and disclaimer feature is to provide attorneys and doctors with as much protection as we can by making it absolutely clear to Quora users that doctors and lawyers who provide responses on Quora (1) are doing so only for informational purposes, (2) are not a particular user’s doctor or lawyer, and (3) should not be considered substitutes for actual consultations with lawyers or doctors.
Some of our attorney and doctor users are already using disclaimers in their answers. Now these users can do so more efficiently and repeatably.
The bottom line is that with these protections in place, actual qualified experts should be less hesitant about posting their knowledge, and therefore expand the amount of authoritative content. Combine that with Quora's voting system, and users will be able to see how other legal and medical professionals react to the content.
In a recent article, we compared the quality of content between Demand Media's eHow and Quora. Quora seems to have a better reputation among the media crowd these days, but Demand Media continues to make moves to increase its overall quality, and Quora has plenty of the kinds of content that is often criticized on eHow.
Legal and Medical are two categories where the authority of the information is of particular importance (as opposed to something like "how to tie a tie"). Decisions based upon legal or medical advice can have serious ramifications on people's lives. This is why it has been troubling to see content from so-called content farms rank for these kinds of queries in Google, sometimes with no apparent authority behind the authors of the content.
If this kind of authoritative content finds its way up in Google's rankings, many of these concerns should be reduced. At the very least, it should help those seeking medical/legal advice who simply start their query at Quora itself.