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China's Quora puts price on knowledge


Zhihu, China's equivalent of Quora, aims to enrich those who share their expertise with others through its platform, according toZhou Yuan, CEO of Zhihu, at a press conference heldfor entrepreneurs at the third World Internet Conference(WIC) held on Friday.

Zhihu has also entered the payment products market this year, and nowpays those who share their knowledge more than 10,000 yuan ($1453.3) per hour, according to Zhou.

Founded in 2010, Zhihu, an online community, has attracted some 60 million users who ask questions and provide answers over the Internet.


A press conference for entrepreneurs is held at the third World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province on Nov 18. [Photo/]

Payment for knowledge 

Several years ago, people would rather damage their phones than pay 2.99 yuan for an app, claimed Zhou.But it's been quite a different story over the last few years, with mobile paymentstaking off in China and many products becoming easily available online, even knowledge. 

Zhihu attempts to turn knowledge into personalized and customized products, enabling those who share their knowhow to make money.

The platform efficiently links customers with the answers they want, while a personal profile of the sharers is also available, with each answer given helping to make an income for them.

Zhihu creating new possibilities

Dedicated to providing a free communication platform for the users, Zhihu creates many possibilities for knowledgeable people to earnmoney but hasn't implemented full charging yet, according to Zhou.

For example, people have surfed the Internet for years, but today people tend to search the Internet with an explicit goal, Zhouclaims. If a user wantedto purchase a second-hand home, they would need to know how to avoid the various traps in the market, and the demand for information like this provides a foundation for charging users.

The Zhihu e-book store was launched this year, gettingexcellent feedback from users, according to the company's CEO. Since then, some publishing houses have sought opportunities for cooperation as they can filter from the community certain users who might be suitable forwriting books. 

How to convert knowledge into wealth? Zhihu has been exploring the answersto that question. Zhou believes that it doesn't happen quickly, but that over time knowledge provided through the platform will be of increasingly good quality, a change from quantity to quality.

The questions asked on Zhihu are becoming more and more specific, according to Zhou. Individuals answering questions are increasingly building their own brands through the platform, through specializing in certain fields.


Zhou Yuan (center) attends the press conference held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province on Nov 18. [Photo/]

Challenges lying in non-standard knowledge products

Unlike traditional products, the products offered through the platform are information services, highly-tailored to peoples' needs.

Zhou believes it's necessary to have a settled market mechanism, in orderto establish trust and improve users' experience.

A decade ago, people might read one or two articles in a newspaper each day, while today people see masses of information on a daily basis, Zhou argues.

In terms of the users, somehave urgent questions to ask. Making communication more efficient is now a top priority for the company.

Future knowledge

At the press conference, Zhou claimed that in contrast to the past, when knowledge was defined as information in a textbook or on a blackboard, knowledge today is available from a variety of sources and is accessible to more people than ever.

In the first couple of years followingits establishment, Zhihu selected personnel to join the community through an invitation code. Apart from usingreal identities to register, users needed acknowledgement from other users of the community to take part.

It is not that a small group of people answer all the questions on Zhihu, but that all who answer questions through the platform are given the chance to use their knowledge to help others.