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Quora beta tests Hindi interface

Nine years after Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever started Quora, a question-and-answer site that initially focused almost entirely on Silicon Valley, the company is now making its first steps towards localizing for the Indian audience that accounts for over 33 million of its monthly page views. Shreyas Seshasai, who heads Internationalization at the company, announced in a blog post that Quora is testing a Hindi version of the platform, along with Portuguese and Indonesian. Before this, Quora was available in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, aside from English. The Hindi version of the site will be separate from the existing English version with its own set of questions and answers, rather than just being a translated version of existing English content.

India and Quora

As an ad-free platform (back then) with higher-quality answers than Q&A sites of old like Yahoo Answers, Quora quickly gained popularity with tech-related topics. That surge was also coupled with a huge influx of audiences from India. After the United States, India accounts for 17.5% of the platform’s monthly page views, according to Alexa. Of a hundred real-life meetups that are scheduled among Quora’s community this June, most are from India — from New Delhi to Coimbatore, there are fourteen meet-ups currently confirmed out of India, compared to just four in the United States.

The Indian community on Quora has not been welcomed by many of the website’s existing users. In an article ominously titled ‘Colonising Force‘, The Caravan magazine recorded some grim reactions to the growing popularity of Indian content on the website. “Particularly in the last 18 months, [Quora] has become more heavily frequented by Indians, [and answers today] can be culturally, financially, or otherwise focused on India and not useful generally to the rest of the Quora population,” Karl Muth, a lecturer, told the magazine. That was one of the kinder reactions to the rise of Indian users on Quora. There were users who asked questions on how to get rid of Indian content on the site, or wondered if Indians had ‘killed’ Quora. That was in 2015.

Indeed, the cross-section of topics from India that usually trend — Narendra Modi, IITs, and questions on Indian high school exams — can be tiresome for non-Indian readers. There is even a subreddit dedicated to absurd questions and answers posted by Indians, /r/IndianPeopleQuora.

With the launch of a Hindi version, Quora may be able to reach a much wider audience than it currently has from India. The website currently has a little contextual advertising, and largely relies on the VC money it has raised so far to pay for operations. While advertising revenue per user from Indian audiences is bound to be lower than what the company might earn from North America and Europe, the sheer size of Indians’ presence on the site may make localization efforts worthwhile to the company.

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