How Was Quora Developed?

The Internet is a fundamental part of our lives, and in recent years, the presence of people on social networks has rapidly increased. However, not all social platforms are just for passing the time. Some platforms actually help educate ourselves while scrolling through our feed. An example of an educational social network is Quora


If you surf the web daily, you have probably heard of Quora. The social network of questions and answers that can trigger the Yahoo Answers service in more than one way. And, if you have not heard about Quora, now is your chance. Read on, and you will find everything you need to know about how was Quora developed, in this article.


What is Quora?

Quora is a social network more like a forum rather than Facebook or Twitter. So, instead of simply connecting people, Quora is based on sharing knowledge in the form of questions-and-answers. Simply put, users ask questions about things that either interest them or they need knowledge about. Then, these questions are answered by other users, usually experts in various fields. Quora is also quite democratic. The relevancy of the answers is determined via a voting system, and every registered user has voting rights. The Upvote button moves the best answers higher and higher, thus filtering out the most beneficial answers over time.


After a new registration, which is necessary, you immediately have the opportunity to choose the circuits that interest you. This spectrum starts with a smaller number, gradually subcategories unfold within each topic you are interested in, which you might like as well.


According to the founders, its mission is to share and grow human knowledge. Most of the information and experience is currently locked in people’s minds, or accessible only to a limited group of those selected.


How was Quora Developed

The story of how was Quora developed is closely connected with Facebook. How? The founders of Quora, Adam D’Angelo, and Charlie Cheever were part of Facebook at its beginnings and even during the later-rocket growth. Charlie Cheever studied Computer Science at Harvard and then started working for Amazon. In 2005 – during the expansion of Facebook within all universities in the USA and Canada – he received an invitation for a job interview at Facebook. But initially, he did not respond. In his own words, he did not want to work with people who were younger than himself. Also, at the same time, he was not sure whether Facebook had the capability of a reasonable expansion abroad and future earnings.


Later, however, Cheever met two former friends, who both quit their jobs at Microsoft and joined Facebook. Convinced, Charlie decided to take the interview with Facebook and accepted the job offer. It was then when he also met the future co-founder of Quora, Adam D’Angelo. 


Founders of Quora
Source: pinterest.cl


Adam, at the time, was Chief Technical Officer – CTO – at Facebook and has earned this position through his involvement in Facebook’s early development. While taking his degree from CalTech, Adam had an active and important role in helping CEO and Founder – Mark Zuckerberg – build Facebook.


The idea of Quora is born

Like WhatsApp or WordPress before it, Quora was also born from a need that went unsatisfied by existing solutions. Simply put, during their lunch breaks, Adam and Charlie began discussing more and more about information and learning. More precisely, what life would be like if they had access to any kind of information they wanted whenever they wanted it. Of course, Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers, Reddit, and Aardvark already existed. But, according to Adam and Charlie, neither of them did well enough. So the duo decided to build a platform of their own and as a result, the first Quora version was launched in June 2009.


Until December, it ran in closed beta and the official launch for the public came a year later, in June 2010. By January 2011, the site already had over 500,000 registered users. Soon after, Quora went through a complete redesign and the team also launched an application for iOS and Android.


Quora over the years

In September 2012, Charlie Cheever resigned from his daily activities in Quora and continued as an adviser. Two years later, in April 2014, Quora received $80 million in investments from Tiger Global, which pushed their valuation to $900 million. Also, in summer 2014, Quora successfully became one of the selected startups for Y Combinator.


In March 2016, Quora announced the acquisition of Parlio from former Google employee Wael Ghonim. In October the same year, Quora was launched in Spanish. In 2017, they released beta versions of French, German, Italian and Japanese followed by addons in Hindi, Portuguese, Indonesian by 2018. Quora planned to launch Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch in late 2018, followed by launching the version in the following year. 


In 2019, the company opened an international engineering office in Vancouver, Canada, and launched Arabic, Gujarati, Hebrew, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu language options. 


Moreover, Quora has become one of the top leading discussing pages during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. In fact, many established websites, like Forbes used Quora as a source of information during Covid-19.  


How does Quora work?

As expected, Quora’s main function is the Questions & Answers – Q&A – feature. Direct Google searches will give anonymous users access to that one specific answer. However, Quora uses personal data like user information and user activity for tailoring personalized feeds and emails via Quora Digest. 


Also, like many other social platforms, Quora requires proof that their users are 13 or older. Therefore, users are asked to register with their email, Facebook, or Google account and verify their identity. That said, voting, adding questions, or joining a conversation is reserved for registered users.


Questions and Answers on Quora 

Back in 2010, the top bar was one of the most criticized parts of the website, since people were able to just Add Questions via the top bar, not to search through it. Thankfully, this issue has been taken care of later on as Quora switched on to a full-text search in March 2013.


The Layout of Quora 2010
Source: quora.en.softonic.com


When creating a new question, the user can type in the question by clicking on the “Add Question” button which is placed on the top right corner next to the search bar. Once the question is made, the system gives the option of rephrasing your question or keeping it the way you typed it in. Additionally, a list of existing questions appears from other users underneath your question with the number of answers. Furthermore, additional details for questions such as public, anonymous or limited leaves you with the choice of who will be able to reach out to your question. 


The layout of Quora 2020
Source: quora.com


Once selecting the categories, the user will also see a list of people who have the largest number of relevant answers in the given section and will leave an opportunity to ask them directly whether they know the possible answer. The selected user will then receive a notification with a so-called Asked to answer (A2A) label. After users start responding, they can mark their answers as useful or not with the upvote and downvote button. The more votes, the more relevant the answer, the higher the reply will appear.


If the answer violates Quora’s rules, users can report it. When replying, we can use a partial WYSIWYG editor, extended by automatic loading of images and YouTube videos from the URL.


Quora’s social aspect

Much like on Twitter, users follow other users on Quora without being “friends” or connected in any way. Simply put, users follow those they find interesting or find their answers helpful. Users also have the option of following a topic or just an individual question.


Personal profile layout on Quora 2020
Source: quora.com

Just like on Facebook, users have a wall at their disposal, where they can keep updated on what is happening and where. Users see new questions in the “watched” topics and also see questions that are watched by people they follow, seeing who is asking, answering, voting, all contextually connected.


Technology behind Quora

Creating the Q&A platform was truly challenging. And when thinking about how was quora developed, it’s not surprising. We have so many programming languages available today, but Charlie Cheever picked Python for building Quora. 

His reasoning was simple – languages like PHP haven’t worked in the past for a system as complicated as this. They did not want to be stuck with C# or Microsoft’s stack in general. Instead, he wanted a dynamically typed language. 


This kind of language, in his view, is faster, as both static and dynamic typed languages need tests anyway. But dynamically typed languages see variables on runtime, not just when compiling code. Changes in the codebase are also faster, and easier to implement. So, after all of this contemplation, he decided on Python.


Today, however, the backend systems have been mostly replaced their internal frameworks Webnode2 and LiveNode. Webnode2 is a system created by Quora, which generates CSS, HTML, and JavaScript for building web pages by reusing existing FE elements. Webnode2 is connected with LiveNode which is a system that uses Python, C++, and JavaScript.     


However, Quora also uses JavaScript for frontend, which is built on top of jQuery. As for communication between backend systems was supported by Thrift, a framework containing a language for defining service interfaces and software tools for generating client and server services.


For their database choice, Quora opted for the relational database, MySQL. As for cloud solutions, Quora uses Amazon EC2with Amazon EBS – and Amazon S3



Quora has been an important and enriching part of our lives for over a decade, as it moved from a small forum to today’s leading Q&A websites. Moreover, Quora is available everywhere we are, on desktop or mobile, for both iOS and Android users. And it’s completely free. Anyone can become a part of the community and contribute to their knowledge. 



So, are you a knowledge seeker or a contributor? You decide. And if we missed a fact about how was Quora developed that you want to share or if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.


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