Online Now is designed to be an improvement of Quora's Ask to Answer feature, which suggests certain users to you when you search for a particular topic or question, based on the fact that they've answered similar questions in the past. Ask to Answer requires Quora Credits, a kind of site-wide currency system in which you earn credits when people follow your questions or upvote your answers.
Since Quora didn't want a repeat of the privacy complaints that streamed in after it introduced its Views feature, which let you see certain answers other Quora members had viewed, you will only be able to see whether another user is online in the Ask to Answer section.
Quora's Marc Bodnick says Online Now will not only help those who want answers right now, but also future users who may have the same questions at a later date.
"The more time-sensitive a question is, the higher probability it’s specific to you," Quora's Marc Bodnick tells Fast Company. "Having said that, I think a lot of peoples’ choices are more general than people think. I might be making a choice today that I need to make within the next couple of hours, but someone might make the same decision a year from now."
Quora also recently introduced a Top Writers program to incentivize and reward the site's top contributors.
[Image: Flickr user brunkfordbraun]