A new search site is hoping it has the winning answer.
Launched to the public on Monday, Quora is a Q&A site where people can ask and answer questions among a community of fellow users. The site falls into the broad category of "social search," relying directly on other people for information rather than database-generated search results.
The goal of the site is to help users grab information they can't easily locate through a traditional search engine such as Google. Users will find not only direct answers to questions but also opinions, advice, and recommendations.
Started by former Facebook employees, including Adam D'Angelo, who left the social network two years ago after serving as chief technology officer, Quora has been going through a gradual rollout since last winter. The site had been available on a limited basis to users who requested access by filling out a membership form or to those invited by an existing user. But now Quora is freely available to anyone just by registering at the site.
Quora founder D'Angelo announced the full launch in Q&A style by answering the question, "Who can register for Quora?"
"We've gotten to the point where we are confident that we can integrate new users as they sign up and maintain the quality of the site, and so we are opening up registration today," he wrote. "However, we put quality ahead of growth as a priority, and so we will change plans and limit registration as necessary to achieve that goal."
You register at Quora through your existing Facebook or Twitter account, which connects you with friends and followers already using the site and verifies your identity as a real person.
From there, you can search for a topic or question, and then simply click on the result that best matches your query. If you don't find an answer waiting, you can type your specific question and wait for someone with the right expertise to answer it. As a registered user, you can also answer questions posed by other people.
Staffed by just nine employees, Quora is receiving backing in the amount of $14 million from a group of investors led by Benchmark Capital, according to people cited by The Wall Street Journal. It's still unclear how Quora intends to make a profit, but the Journal quotes D'Angelo as saying that "it would probably involve some kind of advertising at some point."
Quora joins several other companies attempting to launch their own Q&A sites to give search results more of a human touch. Facebook and Google are among those eyeing this territory, while Yahoo already offers its own brand of Q&A through its Yahoo Answers service.