If you're asking "What's Quora?" you're missing out on a lot on the web. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. To put it briefly, Quora is a question and answer site. No rocket science you'd say; there are many such sites already in existence but Quora has carved a niche for itself. Quora has become the go-to place for indepth information regarding everything under and above the sun with the intellectual twist.
Founded by Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever, both engineers with Facebook previously, Quora took birth in June 2009 and was made available to public a year later. There have been multiple spin offs from Facebook alumni and Quora is one amongst the star studded list comprising of others like Asana, Path, Jumo and Cloudera. The popularity has sky-rocketed ever since and his become a mecca for people looking for 'answers'. With a very high focus on quality of content, Quora has answers from people you're never likely to get in touch with. Like this question, how does it feel like to be stupid? or How does it feel to hug a penguin? There some answers which go beyond which any other platform could ever provide. Quora has also become a gold mine resource for journalists to look for story ideas and inspirations and meet people who'd be very hard to track.
Talking about the inception, Adam D'Angelo wrote in a Quora answer himself,
Charlie and I started most of the work in April 2009. I had some prototype code from before that, so we weren't starting from zero but it was pretty close.
Rebekah joined in June to do design and front-end work. Kevin joined as an engineer in September. We started rolling out the beta beyond friends in January 2010 so that ends up being nine months of work by Charlie and me, seven months by Rebekah, and four months by Kevin. If you really want to calculate man-hours, I'd estimate we put in an average of 60 hours of work a week, but I think that's not the best way to quantify the development cycle.
The product development process wasn't "here's a spec, let's spend nine months implementing it." We iterated continually, tried out lots of ideas, and changed plans a bunch of times. We also built a lot of infrastructure during this period that helped us build a good initial product. It made things easier for us going forward, and will pay off its investment over time.
Also, during the first nine months, we spent plenty of non-real-work time on recruiting, getting the company formally incorporated, finding office space, getting the domain name, setting up payroll and benefits, and lots of other small things.
How is Quora different from a Yahoo! answers? Well, simply because you wouldn't find answers like "Check Wikipedia" or "Ask your teacher" for any question. Yahoo! put weightage on number of questions a user answers while this is not the case with Quora. Talking about possibilities, Quora has been supported by people in the Silicon Valley and is being touted to be the next Twitter. Definitely a lot different from Twitter, Quora is much more of a consolidated data source. Twitter is for breaking news while Quora is for careful detailed archiving. The diversity is viewpoints and depth of answers is astounding and sometimes it pinches a journalist as people who'd never talk to anyone would pen down his/her thoughts at liberty on Quora. A beautiful catalogue of some of the most crucial questions affecting mankind, Quora is definitely a repository of some very important answers.
Find some time and titillate some Grey Matter at Quora.
Image Credit: Wired.com