12 Comments

Summary:

A number of users of the Q&A startup Quora are reporting that the site is unavailable to Facebook employees using the corporate network. It’s not clear why the startup service would do this, unless it sees Facebook’s testing of a similar product as a competitive threat.

According to a number of reports from users of Q&A startup Quora, the site is unavailable to Facebook employees who are on the corporate network (although some have been able to reach the site using non-Facebook IP addresses). At first, some users thought that this was a result of the social network blocking its staff members from using the service while at work, but several of those affected — including a number who identified themselves as Facebook engineers — said that their research indicates that Quora is blocking Facebook computers, rather than the other way around. But why would the startup do such a thing? We’ve asked Quora for comment, and will update if we get a response.

Could it be simple competitive tactics? Facebook is known to be working on a question-and-answer service that is similar to Quora, and has been asking for beta testers who want to help refine the service. However, Blake Ross — the director of product at Facebook and former lead developer at Firefox — said (in answer to a question on Quora, ironically) that the service is not designed to be a Quora competitor. Could it be that Quora disagrees, and doesn’t want to give Facebook any more help than it has already? If so, the measure seems shortsighted, since Facebook developers could easily access the site from an external IP address, such as a proxy server outside the firewall.

The Facebook ban — if there is one — also takes on an interesting flavor given that Quora, which launched in closed beta earlier this year, was co-founded by Adam D’Angelo, the former chief technology officer at Facebook, and Charles Cheever, the former head of the company’s Facebook Connect program. Could there be some tension between the Quora team and their former colleagues? There are definitely some big hopes attached to the Q&A startup: There have been several reports that the company recently raised a round of financing that gives it a valuation of over $85 million.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Facebook vs. Open: the Fight for the Soul of the Web

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Shortlake Snapshots

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  1. Coolrepublics Friday, June 18, 2010

    Good for querra. It doesn’t take a genius to know that facebook doesn’t innovate but just steal ideas from other companies.

    They have have being stalking Twitter, than fourqsquare. These guys uses to work for facebook they know the deal and they want facebook to stop stalking them.

    1. Horrendous typing.lol writing from an Iphone is not easy. I am horrified by my own spelling errors.

      OK grammar police, go ahead and throw me in jail.

      1. No need to apologize — happens to us all :-)

  2. Is Quora Blocking Access by Facebook Employees? (Mathew Ingram/GigaOM) « My Blog Saturday, June 19, 2010

    [...] Ingram / GigaOM: Is Quora Blocking Access by Facebook Employees?  —  According to a number of reports from users of Q&A startup Quora, the site [...]

  3. Hi there, this story is not quite right. Many Facebook employees can access Quora from the corporate IP – see comments by Makinde Adeagbo and Ben Maurer (both Facebook employees) on this question (“I’m on the corporate network and can access Quora now.”).

    http://www.quora.com/Is-Quora-blocking-traffic-originating-from-Facebook's-corporate-IP-space-If-so-why-If-not-how-did-this-rumor-start

    Second, you should mention that Facebook is also blocking Quora employees and Quora users from using Facebook Questions and has kicked some of them out. See this link:

    http://www.quora.com/Who-on-Quora-is-using-Facebook-Questions-and-what-do-they-think

    1. Thanks, Joseph. It’s true that both Ben and Makinde mentioned that some users could access Quora from the Facebook network, but also said that many others couldn’t. And thanks for the pointer to that other question — maybe Facebook is retaliating?

  4. Après Twitter puis Friendfeed Facebook veut faire du Foursquare et du Quora – blAblAwEb – le blog de Stephane Zibi – Blog LeMonde.fr Sunday, June 20, 2010

    [...] Quora a senti le coup en interdisant les accès à son site pour tout employé de Facebook en limitant les accès par classe d’IPs provenant de [...]

  5. kellybriefworld Monday, June 21, 2010

    Hey, if your IT department is threatening to block facebook or any other social on your company network, you might want to share this helpful whitepaper with them: http://bit.ly/bsrh9CFacebook

  6. Early Facebook Employees’ New Project Quora Opens to the Public Monday, June 21, 2010

    [...] Facebook itself is developing a Q&A system and is rumored to be engaged in a back-and-forth war of IP blocking between its employees and Quora’s. We’ve heard that there’s more animosity than [...]

  7. Mathew,
    do you know if this is still going on or was there a response to your post?

  8. This software http://www.timedoctor.com/1 is better than blocking Facebook because it only monitors Facebook on work hours. Team members can use it on lunch breaks. Plus some employees might need Facebook for work so it’s stupid to block it.

  9. Ive been using http://bit.ly/bJwmma . It uses a better method than blocking social media sites because it only monitors sites like Facebook in working hours. People/Employees still have the option to use it for a breather or during lunch breaks so its really unecessary to block it. Sometimes they use it for work too in helping reach decisions.

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