Quora is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Its publisher, Quora Inc., is based in Mountain View, California. The company was founded in June, 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[7] Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to answers that have been submitted by other users.[8]

History

Quora was co-founded by Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever, both former Facebook employees. It is a website where people can find answers to questions and explore complex topics in depth.

Quora's user base has grown quickly since 2010.[9] In April 2017, Quora claimed to have 190 million monthly unique visitors, up from 100 million a year earlier.[11]

In June, 2011, Quora redesigned its website to improve website navigation and usability.[12] Quora made an official iPhone app on September 29, 2011, followed by an Android app on September 5, 2012.

In September, 2012, Quora announced that co-founder Charlie Cheever would leave his position as a co-operator of the company, though he would continue in an advisory role.[13]

In January, 2013, Quora launched a blogging platform, allowing users to post non-answer content on their profiles.[14]

Quora launched a full-text search of questions and answers on its website on March 20, 2013,[15] and extended the feature to mobile devices in late May, 2013.[16] It also announced in May, 2013, that all its usage metrics had tripled relative to the same time in the prior year.[17] In November, 2013, Quora introduced a feature called Stats to allow all Quora users to see summary and detailed statistics regarding how many people had viewed, upvoted, and shared their questions and answers.[18][19] TechCrunch reported that, although Quora had no immediate plans for monetization, they believed that search ads would likely be their eventual source of revenue.[20]

In April, 2014, it was announced that Quora was raising $80 million from Tiger Global at a reported $900 million valuation.[21][22][23][24] Quora was also one of the members of the Summer 2014 Y Combinator batch.[25][26][27]

Quora acquired Parlio online community website in March, 2016.[28] In April of that year, the company also began a limited rollout of advertising on the site.[29]

In October, 2016, Quora launched a Spanish version of its website to the public.[30] Following this announcement, in early 2017, a beta version of Quora in French was announced.[31] In May, 2017, the launch of beta versions in German and Italian launched.[32] In September, 2017, a beta version in Japanese was launched.[33]

In April, 2017, Quora was reported to have received Series D funding with a valuation of $1.8 billion.

Operation

Quora requires users to register with their real names rather than an Internet pseudonym (screen name);[34] although verification of names is not required, false names can be reported by the community. This was done with the ostensible intent of adding credibility to answers. Users with a certain amount of activity on the website have the option to write their answers anonymously but not by default. Visitors unwilling to log in or use cookies have had to resort to workarounds to use the site.[35] Users may also log in with their Google or Facebook accounts by using the OpenID protocol. They can upvote or downvote answers and suggest edits to extant answers provided by other users. The Quora community includes some well-known people, such as Jimmy Wales, Richard A. Muller, Barack Obama, and Adrián Lamo.[36][37][38][39]

Quora has developed its own proprietary algorithm to rank answers, which works similarly to Google PageRank.[41] Quora uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud technology to host the servers that run its website.[42]

Currently, Quora has different ways to recommend questions to users:[7]

  • Home feed questions recommendations: In this method, each user will have a timeline that is personalized to their preferences. Quora also provides "interesting" questions that are relevant to the user's preferences. This will lead to the user either answering that question or refers another user to better answer it.
  • Daily Digest: In this method, Quora sends a daily email containing a set of questions with one answer that is deemed the best answer given certain ranking requirements.
  • Related Questions: In this method, whether the user is logged in or not, a set of questions that relates to the current questions will be recommended and displayed on the side. This will help the user navigate through the questions and find what is more relevant to their preference.
  • Ask to Answer: This feature enables the user to recommend another user that they feel is fit or better suited to answer that question.

Reception

Quora was reviewed extensively by the media in 2010.[7][7][47]

According to Robert Scoble, Quora succeeded in combining attributes of Twitter and Facebook.[7] Later, in 2011, Scoble criticized Quora for being a "horrid service for blogging" and, although a decent question and answer website, not substantially better than competitors.[7]

As of August 2017, according to Alexa, the largest user base of Quora, 35.1%, is in the United States, followed by India at 20.1%.[7]

Content moderation

Quora supports various features to moderate content posted by users. The majority of content moderation is done by the users, though staff can also intervene.

  • Upvote/Downvote – Users can rank answers based on how relevant or helpful they found the answers to be. This feature helps maintain the quality of content posted online.[7] The more Upvotes an article receives, the higher it is ranked, and it shows up on top of the searches related to the question.
  • Report Answer – Users can report plagiarism, harassment, spam, factually incorrect articles, etc. This keeps sub-standard content under check.
  • Suggest Edits – Users make suggestions to improve an article by proposing changes to it. The proposed changes are also made visible to the original author of the question or answer and can be either approved or rejected.

Anonymity concerns

Quora allows users to create user profiles where they can add their real names, photo, topics to follow, number of followers, questions answered by them, etc. Users can choose to keep these settings private. Each user with a user profile has access to activity feed which has topics of interests to the user.

In August 2012, blogger Ivan Kirigin pointed out that it was possible for acquaintances and followers to see his activity including which questions he had looked at.[7] In response, Quora stopped showing question views in feeds later that month. By default, Quora exposes its users' profiles, including their real names, to search engines. Users are able to disable this feature.[7]

In contrast with other major information sites, Quora does place restrictions on anonymity. Quora allows questions and answers to be posted anonymously, but it does not allow anonymous comments to be posted as direct responses to answers. Anonymous users can no longer upvote, comment, merge questions, suggest edits, or send answer requests.[8] This new restriction was enacted to suppress an unspecified number of negative anonymous comments.

In 2014, a controversy arose about Quora's policy to restrict the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine from crawling their site. Citing possible user remorse over previously posted content, the Wayback Machine was banned entirely from crawling Quora.

Posterity

Quora has attracted controversy for using robots.txt to forbid the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine from crawling the site.[8] Their stated reason is that the Wayback APIs as of 2016 does not give users a way to censor answers that they may regret previously posting. Critics have raised concerns about the fate of Quora's data if the site ever goes offline and recommended Stack Overflow as an easily archived alternative.[8]

Top Writers Program

In November 2012, Quora introduced the Top Writers Program as a way to recognize individuals who had made especially valuable content contributions to the site and encourage them to continue. This has inspired both young and experienced writers. Top writers are invited to occasional events and receive gifts such as branded clothing items and books. The company believes that, by cultivating a group of core users who are particularly invested in the site, the program creates a feedback loop of user engagement.[8]

Competitors

Google's Ardvark (now defunct), Reddit, Yahoo Answers, Wishfie, Ask Whale and Facebook Q&A feature.[8]

Timeline

DateEvent typeDetails
June 2009ProductQuora founded
March 2010FundingQuora raises $11 million in a series A, with Benchmark Capital as an investor
June 2010ProductQuora announces that it will open up to the public[59]
January 2011TeamMarc Bodnick leaves Elevation Partners to join Quora[60]
February 2011TechnologyQuora chooses C++ over C for its high performance services
July 2011ProductQuora introduces video to its Q&A pages[61]
July 2011ProductQuora introduces Credits for asking-to-answer questions[62]
September 2011ProductQuora introduces threaded comments and comment voting[63]
May 2012FundingQuora raises $50 million in a series B, with Peter Thiel and Adam D'Angelo as investors
September 2012TeamCo-founder Charlie Cheever leaves[64]
November 2012ProductQuora introduces Top Writers program[65]
January 2013ProductQuora introduces blogs[14]
March 2013ProductQuora introduces a policy eliminating image-only answers.[66]
April 2014FundingQuora raises $80 million in a series C at a $900 million valuation, with Tiger Global Management and Y Combinator as investors
January 2016ProductQuora announces bounty system, offering financial bounties for the best answer (selected by the question asker) on select questions.[67]
March 2016ProductQuora acquires Parlio, an online Q&A site started by Wael Ghonim.
April 2016ProductQuora announces that it will start out testing advertisements, on a small number of question pages.
May 2016TeamMarc Bodnick, Quora's public face and leader of its business and moderation team, announces that he is leaving the company.
August 2016ProductQuora announces support for the Spanish language.[68]
November 2016TeamKelly Battles announced as new chief financial officer (CFO).[5][11]
April 2017FundingQuora raises $85 million in a series D at $1.8 billion valuation, with Collaborative Fund and Y Combinator as investors[11]

See also