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Quora Website text
Type Question/Answer
Launch Date June 2009
Status Active
Product Line Quora
Platform Information Sharing
Website www.quora.com

Quora [1] is a question-answer website launched in 2010 based on the collaboration of its user community to create, answer, organize, and edit the site's questions. The site features highly-curated questions, complex answers, as well as a varied user demographic. While the site may be likened to other popular question-answer sites (such as Answers.com, Yahoo Answers, and Ask.com), While the site may be likened to other popular question-answer sites (such as Answers.com, Yahoo Answers, and Ask.com), it contains fundamental differences. [2] Quora has yet to reach the usage levels of sites such as Answers.com, but it is well known in Silicon Valley, India[3] and particularly among individuals who are interested in engaging in decorous online conversation. A distinguishing feature of Quora has been the authenticity of user profiles and its community of individuals interested in the exchange of information and conversation. Further, the site has attracted an eclectic and famous user base ranging from CEOs like Elon Musk, Mark Cuba, and Mark Zuckerburg, to actors Ashton Kutcher and Jason Bateman, to politicians like Senator Cory Booker and President Barack Obama[4]. Given that it is a question-answer site featuring primarily user-generated content, there are potential ethical implications regarding the information that is presented. Additionally, Quora's emphasis on user authenticity poses challenges related to information ethics. [1]


Quora was founded in Mountain View, California by former Facebook engineers Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever. Sensing the need for a knowledge sharing website that offered an alternative to typical question-answer websites, D’Angelo resigned from his position at Facebook in 2008 to start Quora. [5] Cheever and D’Angelo first launched the site in June of 2009 and opened it to private beta testers in December of the same year. On June 21st, 2010, the company opened to the public. About six months after the website went public, it underwent a spike in usage in late 2010. [6]

While this can be attributed to the typical growth life cycle of a company, technology media outlet TechCrunch greatly contributed to Quora’s growth. TechCrunch provides a lot of information regarding the Silicon Valley hub and the technology industry in general. Through publicity on this platform, Quora quickly built its presence. [7] Given the outlets in which it was publicized and the background of it founders, the majority of the initial content on Quora was primarily related to the tech scene, start-ups, and entrepreneurship. Although it remains popular among technology communities and questions related to these topics are heavily represented, Quora has also seen a large diversification in the content that is posted.

In 2012, Cheever stepped down from day-to-day operations at the company and D’Angelo remains the sole CEO.

Quora improved its search capabilities in 2013 by introducing full-text search in March and expanding to mobile search as well in May.[8]

Quora began to introduce ads as part of their monetization agenda in April of 2016.[9]

Spanish became available on Quora in October 2016.[10] Furthermore, French, Italian, and German launched in mid-2017 with Japanese being available in September.[11][12]


Quora was initially funded with over $160 million in venture capital. Surprisingly, it has no other current revenue model, although the executive team says that they are planning to change this business plan so that investors can gain more liquidity. [13] In 2014, Quora joined the Y Combinator start-up batch, which has been called the “world’s most powerful start-up incubator”[13] A startup incubator is a program where the sole purpose is to help a company succeed. These resources and tools needed to help often come at the price of equity (or a stake in the company). Y-combinator is the most coveted one of these incubators, as they have the worlds best resources and tools. Through this, Quora was able to receive another $114 million in funding from investors including Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois. Essentially, for the past 7 years, Quora has been running on venture capital funding. Recently, Quora has seen good growth, with over 80 million unique visitors a month. As result, a new revenue-generating business model is in the works and it will most likely involve advertisements. [14]


All content on Quora is completely user-generated (UGC). Questions are asked by users, answered by users, and there is also a user moderation and editing base. Additionally, users are able to request answers from experts within a particular field. As a result, the content that is on the website curated by the interests and expertise of its userbase. Quora has been incredibly popular in Silicon Valley and among tech/startup communities and a lot of the content on the site is pertinent to this. However, there is a variety of other as well, ranging from discussions about films, sports, literature, travel, popular culture and a plethora of other categories. Quora is different from other question-answer sites in that many of the questions and answers are well thought out and meaningful, often crafted by individuals who have an interest in sharing this information. [15]

There are a variety of topics with different questions, and users have to be intentional about actively selecting which content they would like to view. Quora provides opportunities for users to customize their feed and accounts. For example, users are able to indicate their knowledge of different topics and this determines what answers are requested of them. This way, users are not flooded with questions they do not know about.[16] Additionally, users can also indicate their interest in different topics, and this determines which questions make up their feed. If a person is really interested in world history and tennis, many of the questions and answers in their feed will pertain to these topics. This helps narrow the focus and prevents users from seeing information about topics that they may not be interested in.

The fact that content is community generated inherently means that some topics will have more content associated with them, depending on user interest. As a result, it may be challenging for users to find answers to extremely specific, mundane questions. Quora seems to cater more to discourse and questions related to gaining and disseminating advice and information. [16]


The user base is an important part of any online community, particularly one with social interaction features such as Quora. The site features comprehensive, lengthy and well-researched questions and answers, perhaps “because it has tapped into an interesting behavioral tendency of individuals to want to share their in-depth knowledge especially with those looking for it”. [17] Quora has a real names policy, which means that users are required to use their real, full name for their account. However, people do have an option to go anonymous for their responses if they are uncomfortable associating it with their identity. This enforcement of real names encourages people to remain civil and post content that can be traced back to them. Users must create a profile in order to interact with the site, which helps limit internet trolls who may just upvote/downvote or edit random posts. Users are able to “follow” other users and those people also have the opportunity to follow back. All Quora users also have a profile that will allow them to write an autobiography for themselves, indicate their interests, and it also shows prior questions and answers that they have been a part of. Unlike other question-answer websites like Yahoo Answers or Stack Overflow, where people are not really able to carve an identity for themselves due to the anonymity of usernames, Quora allows people to build a profile for themselves. If someone is interested in Shakespeare, they can follow other people that are also interested in this topic, thereby joining a smaller community of people with similar interests.

Users have to be at least thirteen years of age to make an account on Quora. Apart from that, there are no real restrictions on who can make an account, as long as they register with their real name. Many famous and prolific individuals such as Ashton Kutcher, Justin Trudeau, Sheryl Sandberg, Barack Obama, Mark Cuban, Hans Zimmer and Mark Zuckerberg [18] have all been active on Quora and responded to user questions. Interestingly, Quora seems to very popular outside of the United States, especially in India.

Top Writers Program

Around November of 2012, Quora had introduced something called the "Top Writers Program." This program was made as a way to honor and recognize those people who had contributed a lot to answering questions on the platform. This program was mostly created to stir motivation among people and there are about 150 writers chosen every year. Those who make this list are chosen to receive branded items such as clothes, gift bags, books, trinkets, etc. [19]

Similar Sites

While Quora is a unique site with a user interface that has kept people wanting to read more, they are not the first people to come up with an idea like this. Some similar sites are News360, Hubski, Yahoo Answers, Reddit, and Stack Exchange.

Ethical Implications

2018 Breach

In December of 2018, around 100 million users were told that they had been hacked. "The hacked data included names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, even a user’s questions, answers, and direct messages." [20] Luckily, there was no credit card information that was able to be retrieved, however peoples direct messages did get out. Hashing is something that Quora does. Instead of storing your password in readable plain text, businesses often store hashed passwords because it’s more secure in the event of a data breach. If stored incorrectly, much of this data can be used as identity theft. It was a smart move from the company to shift some privacy policies around. [21]

Real Names Policy

Quora requires that its users register with their full legal names before interacting on the site. Consequently, any interactive activity, such as a user's answers and questions, is able to be traced back to their account. If a user feels uncomfortable associating any content with their identity, Quora has allowed them the option to be publicly anonymous.[22] The site also has a policy requiring that only individual users are able to register for accounts; groups such as corporations cannot. Quora's real name policy has received a lot of public attention, particularly due to the controversy surrounding the question of "real" names and their representation (or lack of) of an individual's true identity [23]. The requirement of "real names" has been known to impact particular groups of people such as drag queens, transgender folk, Native Americans, and others. Individuals in these groups frequently refer to each other as well as their own selves by names that may not be "real" or legal, but most true to their perceived identity. Quora's name requirement also raises questions of constitutional free speech, as certain accounts may be at risk of being taken down due to the nature of the names associated with them.

While this is a cause for concern to some, it is good to know that they have measures in place so that a data breach is extremely unlikely. According to the Consumer Press,"Quora uses a hash algorithm and encryption key to turn plain text passwords into encrypted text, then stores that encrypted text on their servers." [24]


Quora's policy holds that hate speech and slurs cannot be used on the site unless such words are being used as part a definition. Should this rule be violated in a post, the poster's account may be deactivated. Quora follows a general “Be Nice, Be Respectful” (BNBR) policy. [25] Additionally, questions on Quora may be deleted if moderators deem them as not sufficiently interesting or capable of eliciting responses. This silencing based on the opinions and discretion of Quora's moderating team has likewise raised questions of free speech.

"Views" Update

In 2012, two years after Quora's launch, it came out with a new feature called "Views". It's function allowed people to see what others have been reading. [26]In the update, Quora made the decision without notifying the users about it. The company left it up to the users to opt-out rather than asking them to opt-in for the feature. While on the surface, it may not seem like a big deal allow people to see what questions others are reading, here are examples of what people could've read: "What are some ways to alleviate bad breath?", "Is it possible to truly recover from child sexual abuse?", "What things are illegal to do or with a dead body?". Quora's product manager, Sandra Liu Huang, justified the move to enable the "Views" feature by default as, "It will help writers get feedback to improve the content they write. If it were an opt-in product it wouldn't be as useful to writers because not enough people may go turn it on..." [27]. The fact that companies such as Quora can such control over what their users see or do is alarming, especially if they do not notify the users ahead of time. Users of such websites are left in the dark about what has been updated and how it could affect their online presence. Whether or not the move was correct by Quora, there are options for users to change their settings to prevent others from knowing what questions they have been reading.

Future Laws

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. [7]
  8. https://techcrunch.com/2013/05/29/quora-mobile-search/
  9. https://venturebeat.com/2016/04/19/quora-begins-testing-ads-on-small-number-of-question-pages/
  10. https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/19/quora-en-espanol-launches-out-of-beta/
  11. https://blog.quora.com/Launching-betas-for-Quora-in-Italiano-Quora-auf-Deutsch
  12. https://blog.quora.com/Launching-Quora-in-Japanese
  13. 13.0 13.1 [8]
  14. [9]
  15. [10]
  16. 16.0 16.1 [11]
  17. [12]
  18. [13]
  19. The Next Web Quora Recognizes its 492 Most Valuable Users TNW.
  20. Widner, David What Happened What Data Was Stolen Forbes. December 18, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  21. Widner, David What Happened What Data Was Stolen Forbes. December 18, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  22. [14]
  23. [15]
  24. "What Quora Users Need To Know, And Do, About The Hack" Consumer Press., 05 Dec. 2018.
  25. [16]
  26. "Creepy Quora Erodes Users’ Privacy, Reveals What You Have Read." Naked Security. N.p., 09 Aug. 2012.
  27. Elinor Mills August 1, 2012 2:23 PM PDT. "Quora Reveals Your Reading Habits by Default with 'Views'." CNET. N.p., 01 Aug. 2012.