We place a premium on making Quora a safe online platform: Gautam Shewakramani

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on December 07, 2019

In an interview with BusinessLine, Gautam Shewakramani, Advisor, International Growth, Quora, speaks about how the platform has ring-fenced itself from possible controversies as it is part of the social media eco-system

US-based Quora, a question-and-answer website, is considered similar to the Google search engine in some ways, but different in terms of showing curated answers. Here, questions are asked, answered and edited by users, either factually or in the form of opinions. The site is witnessing considerable traction from Indian users whose numbers have nearly doubled in two years with more languages being added regularly. In an interview with BusinessLine, Gautam Shewakramani, Advisor, International Growth, Quora, spoke about how the platform has ring-fenced itself from possible controversies as it is part of the social media eco-system. Excepts:

Do you agree with the view that Quora is somewhat similar to Google?

Let me challenge that assumption. Our mission is to share the world’s knowledge on the internet. Google’s goal revolves around organising and indexing information that already exists. We are very different than Google. Sometimes your journey starts on Google and ends at Quora. We want to be a place where all human knowledge can exist. You can’t have a platform that aims to grow the world’s knowledge without attaching a social layer that will add quality and authenticity to that knowledge. Quora is like a knowledge network with a social layer on top of it.

But a lot of social networking happens on Quora...

Of course. It is a platform that is designed for knowledge exchange and a large part of that is ultimately human-to-human. It is a social product. I was chatting with someone today who told me that she met her future husband on Quora. But the core of it is around knowledge and connecting knowledge with people. People-with-people is a by-product of that.

But has Quora turned out the way the founders wanted it?

Our mission has been sharing and growing the world’s knowledge. Along the way, our strategy has changed on how we achieve that mission. We want the platform to be a safe place for users. At the same time, we realise what a huge challenge it is to maintain safety in an online environment. Our founders have made decisions that might hurt the short-term matrix but are better for the long term.

But, in some ways, isn’t it still ‘views’ and less of knowledge? Let us say a reader may want to know why Jet Airways’ operations was suspended. There will be scores of views given...

We make all information available to you as a user of the platform. So, you will potentially find six perspectives or answers on why Jet Airways failed. We make sure that all those of points of views are credible so that you can make a considered decision.

How many employees does Quora have? What plans do you have for India?

Our current strength is over 250 people who are mostly in engineering and data science. We have added finance, accounting and sales. We now have an office in India. We will be adding more people for a variety of roles.

Do the founders fear that Quora might go the Facebook way and attract criticism from lawmakers?

We spend a lot of time on quality to create a safe environment for every user. I think some of the decisions that Adam (D’Angelo, co-founder and CEO of Quora) made early on habe prevented Quora from going down that path. Is it completely fool-proof? Probably not. But we are miles ahead than some of the other platforms.

India is one of the fastest growing markets for Quora.

We have a large number of Indian languages on board. In 2017, there were 40 million monthly unique visitors from India which grew to 70 million the next year. Year-on-year growth in terms of questions and answers are growing 100 per cent. Those who visit Quora through a mobile search from Google end up spending 15-20 minutes on our platform. Most Indians search for topics on improving their life, like education, career advice and personal finance.

Do users get paid for writing answers?

We do not facilitate that at all. We do have a partner programme where we incentivise certain people to ask questions on Quora. It continues to evolve and could lead to other forms of incentivisation. But not answers.

A lot of questions are answered anonymously. How do you ensure that they are not fake?

Anonymity seems to be the safest and the best way to give people the comfort to share the knowledge...for those who want to protect their identity. Is it perfect? No. But it is certainly better than creating a fake account.

Published on December 07, 2019

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