This isn’t a secret. Toptal doesn’t hide it. On the contrary, it seems that Toptal guys are proud and happy to have Adam D’Angelo at the top of their investor’s list. Why wouldn’t they be? According to Fortune magazine, he’s one of the “smartest people in tech.”
Here’s what you can find on Toptal’s website:
So, what’s the big deal about it? We live in the free world. Everybody's free to feel good (as one song says) and spend (invest) their money where and how they like it.
All of these are true and fine as long as you stay away from the conflict-of-interest zone. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Quora because of Toptal.
If you’re a freelancer or a business that hires freelancers and you aren’t active on Quora, then you’re missing a lot.
Freelance topics are very active and followed by hundreds of thousands of Quora users (they like to call themselves - Quorans). Here’s a list of the most popular freelance topics on Quora, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Understandably, the biggest freelance platforms have their own topics/categories on Quora too. The number of their followers on Quora reflects pretty much accurately the situation in the freelance industry.
It’s worth mentioning that these are “unofficial” corners that represent these freelance platforms on Quora. However, make no mistake about it, the marketing teams of Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and Toptal are directly and openly involved when it comes to questions and answers, you can find in these topics.
Quora can be a useful tool to ask an unpleasant question about your competitors and write answers that promote your platform. It isn't an exaggeration to say that Quora has become a virtual battlefield for freelance platforms where “Quora wars” are fought, won, and lost in the most viewed writers’ lists.
It’s really a big deal to be the top writer in one or more Quora topics. The last thing you need is to see your competitor’s name as the top writer in a topic reserved for your company, business or in our case - a freelance platform. Right? That can be both embarrassing and painful.
At the end of the day, that’s all what these freelance topics on Quora are about - the prestigious most viewed writer position. For example, you have the entire teams of employees (official) and the most successful freelancers (unofficial) writers who fight for their beloved platform on Quora.
And, this is how we have come to the most interesting part of my story.
There are many great most viewed writers in freelance topics on Quora. One of them has managed to score a hat-trick on Quora, more than once. What’s this supposed to mean?
Well, the catch is to be the most viewed writer in three or more most popular freelance topics on Quora, at the same time. For example, the most challenging hat-trick is to be the most viewed writer in Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer dot com topics, again at the same time.
The first and the only most viewed writer who has done it, is the founder of goLance - Michael Brooks. Truth to be told, the lists of the most viewed writers on Quora are updated every 24 hours. Yet, this fact doesn’t undermine the significance of these achievements.
Here are some of the screenshots I made when Michael Brooks on Quora scored this most viewed hat-trick.
Michael Brooks was also the very first writer to have more than 1M+ all time answer views on Quora when it comes to freelance topics.
Now, maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just a pure coincidence, but until that moment, Toptal was mainly focused on their topic. Then, things changed dramatically. You could hardly notice a Toptal writer outside the Toptal topic itself anywhere else on Quora.
All of a sudden, a Toptal’s “growth hacker” with only a few answers becomes the most viewed writer in all three major freelance topics on Quora with the biggest number of followers.
As you can see, this guy has to be one hell of a writer when he can get hundreds of thousands of views per single answer. This Toptal’s growth hacker and writer is the superstar in freelance topics on Quora.
When you combine all answer views of all writers in the top 10 list in these categories, you still can’t even get close to his answer views. That’s a bit odd and hard to swallow, don’t you think?
Take a look at the most viewed writers in the main freelancing topic on Quora screenshot. With just 20 answers Pablo Macias, the growth hacker at Toptal I’ve been talking about, has more than 3.2M views. If it hadn’t been for this growth booster, Michael Brooks would’ve been the most viewed writer here with 1.1K answers and 75K answer views. These numbers look more real and acceptable to me compared to the “miraculous achievement” of Toptal’s writer.
Maybe I’m just a good old conspiracy theory fan. So, I had to dig a little deeper.
It was really interesting that this Toptal’s growth hacker is nowhere to be found outside these three main freelance topics on Quora that generate the most traffic and potential users. So, Toptal was targeting these topics in particular with the jaw-dropping success, but they didn’t let their writer got even close to the competition, including their own topic on Quora.
Feel free to check it out yourself. This guy is nowhere to be seen in the following topics on Quora among the top 10 most viewed writer lists:
Honestly, I was ready to accept that Quora moves in mysterious ways when it comes to these lists of the most viewed writers.
OK. So, Quora is helping Toptal. The numbers are obviously rigged, but at least, both Quora and Toptal know their limits. They haven’t “occupied” all freelance topics. Right? We can live with that, can’t we?
But, here’s the big problem. It’s one thing for Quora to give as many answer views as needed to their “favorite” writer, but it’s an entirely different thing to delete the views to other writers. This is what happened to Michael Brooks. This is why I have decided to step into Quora ring.
If Quora sends you a notification, such as this: “Your answer was found to violate a policy on Quora,” then you probably get carried away by using the links in your answer. Meaning, your answer and all its views will be deleted.
Just to be clear and totally fair, Quora tolerates the use of links to a certain degree. If you provide an answer with the “certain value” and you use the links in a thoughtful way, Quora Moderation Team usually turns a blind eye.
Almost right after Toptal’s growth hacker stepped in, Michael Brooks’ answers start disappearing on Quora. One of them caught my eye because it was and still is one of the most viewed ones:
This answer has more than 210K views. It goes without saying that it influences Michael Brooks’ position as the most viewed writer in the main freelancing topic on Quora. Michael wrote an excellent and useful answer with just one link to his platform.
I don’t know for sure what happened in the meantime, but I’m safe to assume that Michael appealed to Quora’s decision to delete his answer. The next thing you know, this answer was back on track.
Then, I decided to check what was the situation with one of the answers written by Toptal’s growth hacker - Pablo Macias:
As you can see for yourself, this writer has used a link to Toptal not once, but actually four times. This answer is safe and sound. I just checked. It has more than 910K views. That’s really something considering the fact it was published a few months ago (the last edit was made on April 25).
The first I made a screenshot was on August 29. Meaning, this particular answer got additional 250K views in less than two weeks. That’s really something, indeed.
I’m a freelancer who works on goLance, among other freelance platforms. I also like to read Quora freelance-related questions and answers. I would continue to do so as long as I know and believe that these answers are useful and above all, unbiased.
All Quora writers are and should be equal. I just refuse to accept the Orwellian situation on Quora where some writers are more equal than others. Would you?
After all, let’s have a fair fight on Quora or go somewhere else to get unbiased opinions.
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