Quora

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Quora, Inc.
Quora logo 2015.svg
Screenshot:
Quora screenshot.jpg
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Question and answer
Available inArabic
Bengali
Danish
Dutch
English
Finnish
French
German
Gujarati
Hebrew
Hindi
Indonesian
Italian
Japanese
Kannada
Malayalam
Marathi
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Tamil
Telugu[1]
FoundedJune 2009; 11 years ago (2009-06)
HeadquartersMountain View, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Adam D'Angelo
Charlie Cheever
Key peopleAdam D'Angelo (CEO)
Kelly Battles (CFO)[2]
Revenue$20 million (2018)[3]
Employees200-300 (2019)[3]
URLwww.quora.com
Alexa rankDecrease 364 (September 2020)[4]
RegistrationOptional/required, can write and ask anonymously
LaunchedJune 21, 2010; 10 years ago (2010-06-21)
Current statusActive
Written inPython, C++[5]

Quora (/ˈkwɔːrə/) is an American question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, followed, and edited by Internet users, either factually or in the form of opinions. Its owner, Quora Inc., is based in Mountain View, California, United States.

The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[6] Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to answers that have been submitted by other users.[7]

In 2019, the website was visited by 300 million unique people a month.[8]

History[edit]

Founding and naming[edit]

Adam D'Angelo, photographed in 2011
Charlie Cheever, photographed in 2009

Quora was co-founded by former Facebook employees Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever in June 2009.[3] In an answer to the question "How did Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever come up with the name Quora?" written on Quora in 2011, Charlie Cheever stated, "We spent a few hours brainstorming and writing down all the ideas that we could think of. After consulting with friends and eliminating ones we didn't love, we narrowed it down to 5 or 6 finalists, and eventually settled on Quora."[9] Cheever went on to state, "The closest competition that [the name] Quora had was Quiver."[9]

2010–2013: Early growth[edit]

In March 2010, Quora, Inc. was valued at $86 million.[6] Quora first became available to the public on June 21, 2010, and was praised for its interface and for the quality of the answers written by its users, many of whom were recognized as experts in their fields.[6] Quora's user base increased quickly, and by late December 2010, the site was seeing spikes of visitors five to ten times its usual load—so much that the website initially had difficulties handling the increased traffic.[10] Until 2018, Quora did not show ads because "...ads can often be negative for user experience. Nobody likes banner ads, ads from shady companies, or ads that are irrelevant to their needs."[3]

In June 2011, Quora redesigned the navigation and usability of its website.[11] Co-founder Adam D'Angelo compared the redesigned Quora to Wikipedia, and stated that the changes to the website were made on the basis of what had worked and what had not when the website had experienced unprecedented growth in six months earlier.[11] In September 2012, co-founder Charlie Cheever stepped down as co-operator of the company, taking an advisory role.[12] The other co-founder, Adam D'Angelo, continued to maintain a high degree of control over the company.[3]

In January 2013, Quora launched a blogging platform allowing users to post non-answer content.[13] Quora launched a full-text search of questions and answers on its website on March 20, 2013,[14] and extended the feature to mobile devices in late May 2013.[15] It also announced in May 2013 that usage metrics had tripled relative to the same time in the prior year.[16] In November 2013, Quora introduced a feature called Stats to allow all Quora users to see summary and detailed statistics of how many people had viewed, upvoted, and shared their questions and answers.[17][18] TechCrunch reported that, although Quora had no immediate plans for monetization, they believed that search ads would likely be their eventual source of revenue.[19]

2014–2017: Continued growth and new features[edit]

Google Search popularity for Quora, 2012-2017

2014 organisation[edit]

Quora was evolving into "a more organized Yahoo Answers, a classier Reddit, an opinionated Wikipedia" and became popular in tech circles.[3] In April 2014, Quora raised $80 million from Tiger Global at a reported $900 million valuation.[20][21] Quora was one of the Summer 2014 Y Combinator companies,[22] although it was described as "the oldest Y-Combinator ever".[23]

Parlio acquisition[edit]

In March 2016, Quora acquired the online community website Parlio.[24]

[edit]

In April 2016, Quora began a limited rollout of advertising on the site.[25] The first ad placement that the company accepted was from Uber.[3] Over the next few years, the site began gradually to show more ads, but still maintained efforts to limit the number of ads and to keep the ads it did show relevant to the users seeing them.[3]

Multilingual expansion[edit]

In October 2016, Quora launched a Spanish version of its website to the public;[26] in early 2017, a beta version of Quora in French was announced.[27] In May 2017, beta versions in German and Italian were introduced.[28] In September 2017 a beta version in Japanese was launched.[29] In April 2018, Beta versions in Hindi, Portuguese, and Indonesian were launched.[30] in September 2018, Quora announced that additional versions in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch were planned.[31]

2017 anonymity changes[edit]

On February 9th 2017, Quora announced changes to their anonymity feature, detaching anonymous questions and edits from accounts. When asking or answering anonymously, an anonymous edit link is generated, only through which the question or answer can be edited in future.[32][33] Since then, commenting anonymously and toggling one's answer between anonymous and public is no longer possible. These changes went into effect on March 20, 2017. Users were able to request a list of anonymous edit links to their existing anonymous questions and answers until then.[34]

2017 Series D funding[edit]

In April 2017, Quora claimed to have 190 million monthly unique visitors, up from 100 million a year earlier. That same month, Quora was reported to have received Series D funding with a valuation of $1.8 billion.[35]

2018–present: Further growth and data breach[edit]

In September 2018, Quora reported that it was receiving 300 million unique visitors every month.[3][35] Despite its large number of registered users, Quora did not possess the same level of mainstream cultural dominance as sites like Twitter, which, at the time, had roughly 326 million registered users.[3][36] This may have been because a large number of registered users on the site did not use it regularly and many did not even know they had accounts since they had either created them unknowingly through other social media sites linked to Quora or created them years previously and forgotten about them.[36][37] Quora uses popups and interstitials to force users to login or register before they can see more of the content, similar to a metered paywall.[38]

In December 2018, Quora announced that approximately 100 million user accounts were affected by a data breach.[36][39] The hacked information included users' names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter if people had chosen to link them to their Quora accounts, questions they had asked, and answers they had written.[39] Adam D'Angelo stated, "The overwhelming majority of the content accessed was already public on Quora, but the compromise of account and other private information is serious."[39]

By May 2019, Quora was valued at $2 billion as a company and it was finalizing a $60 million investment round, which was led by Valor Equity Partners, a private equity firm with ties to Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX.[3] In spite of this, the site still showed very few ads compared to other sites of its kind and the company was still struggling to turn a profit, having only made $20 million in revenue in 2018.[3] Several investors passed on the opportunity to invest in Quora, citing the company's "poor track record of actually making money."[3] Schleifer characterized the disparity between Quora's valuation as a company and its actual profits as a result of "the high valuation for virtually everything these days in the tech sector."[3]

In December 2019, Quora announced that it would open its first international engineering office in Vancouver, which would deal with machine learning and other engineering functions.[40] That same month, Quora launched its Arabic, Gujarati, Hebrew, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu versions.[41]

Operation[edit]

Real name policy[edit]

Quora requires users to register with the complete form of their real names rather than an Internet pseudonym (screen name);[42] 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.[citation needed] Visitors unwilling to log in or use cookies have had to resort to workarounds to use the site.[43] Users may also log in with their Google or Facebook accounts by using the OpenID protocol. The Quora community includes various well-known people such as Jimmy Wales, Richard A. Muller, Clayton C. Anderson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Adrián Lamo,[44][45] as well as some current and former professional athletic personalities, scientists, and other experts in their fields.

Quora allows users to create user profiles with visible real names, photos, site use statistics, etc., which users can set to private. In August 2012, blogger Ivan Kirigin pointed out that acquaintances and followers could see his activity, including which questions he had looked at.[46] In response, Quora stopped showing question views in feeds later that month.[47] By default, Quora exposes its users' profiles, including their real names, to search engines. Users can disable this feature.[48]

Answer recommendations[edit]

Quora has developed its own proprietary algorithm to rank answers, which works similarly to Google's PageRank.[49] Quora uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud technology to host the servers that run its website.[50][51]

Currently, Quora has different ways to recommend questions to users:[52]

Home feed question recommendations
In this method, users have a timeline that is personalized to their preferences. Quora also provides "interesting" questions that are relevant to those preferences.
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 criteria.
Related questions
In this method, a set of questions that relates to the current question is displayed on the side. This display is not tailored to the specific user.
Requested answers
This feature lets a user direct a question to other users whom they consider better suited to answer it.

Content moderation[edit]

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 and downvote
Users can rank answers based on how relevant or helpful they found the answers to be. This feature is intended to help maintain the quality of content posted online. The more upvotes an answer receives, the higher it is ranked, and it shows up on top of the searches related to the question. If an answer is ranked poorly, it is "collapsed" and will not show up in people's feeds.[53]
Report answer
Users can report plagiarism, harassment, spam, and factually incorrect articles, etc. This is intended to keep sub-standard content under check.[53]
Suggest edits
Users propose changes to an answer. The proposed changes are made visible to the author of the answer, who can either approve (and publish) or reject them.[53]
Edit question and source
Users can directly edit a question. These changes are reviewed by Quora Moderation, which can revert them if they are deemed unconstructive.

Top Writers Program[edit]

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. About 150 writers were chosen each year. Top writers were invited to occasional exclusive events and received gifts such as branded clothing items and books. The company believed that by cultivating a group of core users who were particularly invested in the site, a positive feedback loop of user engagement would be created.[54]

Quora World Meetup[edit]

Quora World Meetup started in 2017 as a tradition for Quora readers and writers to interact and network. Quora World Meetups are organized by a group of Quora contributors with a designated lead and as a contribution from Quora they usually send branded swag and stickers to the attendees.[55] According to Quora, they defined the World Meetups as "This is our way of celebrating the global growth of Quora, and all of the readers and writers who have made it possible."[55] The 2017 meetup had nearly 3,000 writers from over cities. The 2018 World Meetups occurred from June 20 to June 25.[55]

Partner Program[edit]

In April 2018, Quora introduced a program that offers incentives to users that ask questions.[56] Members of the program, who are chosen by invitation only, are paid via Stripe or PayPal, based on user engagement and advertising revenue generated by the questions. According to the Partner Program FAQ, "Questions are compensated based on the user engagement and advertising revenue they generate. After you ask a question, you will earn money on it for 1 year."[57]

This program has been criticized by some member users who feel that the financial incentive has led to a mass posting of questions of an inferior quality that have corrupted the original concept of the site. Founder Adam D'Angelo has attempted to address some of this criticism.[58]

Spaces[edit]

In November 2018, Quora ended support of user blogs and introduced a new feature called "Spaces".[59] Spaces are communities of like-minded people where users can discuss and share content related to the space topic or subject.

A space is a Quora page that has its own administrators, moderators, contributors, and followers. Administrators control the space. Moderators can add or delete content, and approve or decline submissions to the space. Contributors can add content such as posts, external website links, or Quora questions and answers. Once a space has acquired a certain number of followers, Quora allows the space's administrator to add a custom URL, beginning with "q/".

In June 2020 Quora announced that space owners in several eligible countries will be able to receive a share of income from ads shown in their spaces.[60]

Reception[edit]

Demographics[edit]

As of September, 2019, according to Alexa Internet, India makes up the largest user base at 38%, followed by the United States at 26%, with an overall global site ranking of 233.[61]

Critical reception[edit]

Quora was reviewed extensively by the media in 2010.[62][63][64] According to Robert Scoble, Quora succeeded in combining attributes of Twitter and Facebook.[65] 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 alternatives.[66]

Since 2014, Quora has attracted continued controversy for using robots.txt to instruct crawlers such as the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine to not index or archive the site.[67][68] Quora's stated reason is that the Wayback Machine's APIs do not give users a way to censor answers that they may regret previously posting.[67][68] Critics have raised concerns about the fate of Quora content if the site ever goes offline and recommended Stack Overflow as an easily archived alternative.[67][68]

Quora was highly criticized for removing question details in August 2017. According to some users, the removal of question details limited the ability to submit personal questions and questions requiring code excerpts, multimedia, or complexity of any sort that could not fit into the length limit for a URL.[69][70] According to an official product update announcement, the removal of question details was made to emphasize canonical questions.[71]

Lawsuit[edit]

On January 1, 2020, a retired Palestinian American professor, Rima Najjar Merriman, filed a lawsuit against Quora at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Her lawsuit alleged that she had been wrongfully banned from the question and answers website and accused of posting hate speech for her pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist views.[72][73] On March 23, 2020, Merriman filed for a voluntary dismissal of her lawsuit against Quora without admitting guilt.[74]

Timeline[edit]

Date Event type Details
June 2009 Product Quora founded
March 2010 Funding Quora raises $11 million in a series A, with Benchmark Capital as an investor[75]
June 2010 Product Quora announces that it will open up to the public[76]
January 2011 Team Marc Bodnick leaves Elevation Partners to join Quora[77]
February 2011 Technology Quora chooses C++ over C for its high-performance services[78]
July 2011 Product Quora introduces video to its Q&A pages[79]
July 2011 Product Quora introduces Credits for asking-to-answer questions[80]
September 2011 Product Quora introduces threaded comments and comment voting[81]
May 2012 Funding Quora raises $50 million in a series B, with Peter Thiel and Adam D'Angelo as investors[75]
September 2012 Team Co-founder Charlie Cheever leaves[82]
November 2012 Product Quora introduces Top Writers program[83]
January 2013 Product Quora introduces blogs[13]
March 2013 Product Quora introduces a policy eliminating image-only answers.[84]
April 2014 Funding Quora raises $80 million in a series C at a $900 million valuation, with Tiger Global Management and Y Combinator as investors[75][85]
January 2016 Product Quora announces bounty system, offering financial bounties for the best answer (selected by the question asker) on select questions.[86]
March 2016 Product Quora acquires Parlio, an online Q&A site started by Wael Ghonim.[87]
April 2016 Product Quora announces that it will start testing advertisements on a small number of question pages.[88]
May 2016 Team Marc Bodnick, Quora's business and moderation team leader and spokesman announces that he is leaving the company.
August 2016 Product Quora announces support for the Spanish language.[89]
November 2016 Team Wikimedia Foundation trustee Kelly Battles announced as new chief financial officer (CFO).[2][90]
February 2017 Product Quora integrates Wikidata into its topic management.[91]
April 2017 Funding Quora raises $85 million in a series D funding round at a $1.8 billion valuation, with Collaborative Fund and Y Combinator as investors[92]
July 2017 Product Quora announces support for the German and Italian languages.[93]
September 2017 Product Quora announces support for the Japanese language.[94]
April 2018 Product Quora launches Video Answers.[95]
April 2018 Product Quora introduces the Quora Partner Program.[56]
June 2018 Product Quora announces support for the Hindi, Indonesian, and Portuguese languages.[96]
February 2018 Product Quora announces the launch of the Links feature, which shows links to articles on other websites in the users' feed.[97] Initially, the links were automatically sorted to topics and posted by the software to the users' feeds according to the topics they follow, and also appeared in a "Links" tab on topics pages. The Links tab was later removed from topics pages without announcement.
May 2018 Product Quora announces the launch of Sharing,[98] a kind of reblogging.
August 2018 Product Quora launches the ability for users to share links.[99]
September 2018 User Base Quora hits 300 million monthly users[100]
November 2018 Product Quora launces the "Spaces" feature,[59] and subsequently converts existing blogs on the platform to spaces.[101]
December 2018 Security Quora reported a data breach that affected 100 million of its users' data.[102]
January 2019 Product Quora announces support for the Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, and Tamil languages.[103]
December 2019 Team Quora announces that it will open its first international engineering office in Vancouver.[40]
December 2019 Product Quora announces support for the Arabic, Gujarati, Hebrew, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu languages.[41]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  74. ^ Rima Najjar Merriman v Quora, Inc., 8472 (United States District Court for the Northern District of California March 23, 2020).
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