Quora has been the belle of the social media ball for a while now, attracting the attention of early adopters and quickly turning into an outlet for people to share their expertise. As noted in a recent Wired story on the company much of that early audience has been in the tech start-up and social media circles where the service itself lives, though strides have been taken to expand the audience.

Now it’s looking to expand even further by dropping – or at least significantly lowering – the barriers it had in place to corporate participation in answering questions left by individuals.

The change coincidentally comes at the same time my own thinking about Quora and its potential usage has begun to come around. At first I pretty firmly dismissed it as a tool for little else than polishing one’s own ego and “personal brand” but have begun to think of it as a potentially valuable tool for directly answering questions on the same platform that they’re asked.

And that’s kind of the key detail. As I said on Twitter a while ago, if the presence of Quora or other platforms that are just about the question/answer interplay is the first time you’re considering responding to the audience then you kind of need to take your online communications program back down to the studs and rethink things. That should always be an element, which is why the term “participation” is used so often.

The more welcome attitude Quora now has toward corporate participation means a whole new field of legitimate subject matter experts can now weigh in without their responses potentially being flagged.

Of course it also means the potential for spammy, content farm-esque material to be posted has risen significantly. So it’s on the Quora community to police what’s posted and throw flags when necessary.

There are still problems I have with how Quora is setup that keeps me from being 100% sold on integrating it into programs – the biggest being the ability of someone else to edit a response – but as I said my thinking is coming around and have put it back on my radar as something to keep in mind for the future.