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Facebook Questions: a Quora killer?

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This morning, Facebook finally rolled out its much-anticipated Questions feature, enabling individuals and pages to post publicly searchable and answerable questions among the Facebook community.

The service has been in beta since last summer, but as of now is available to anyone who asks for it. Want in? Here's what you do: Go to the Facebook Questions intro page at facebook.com/questions and click on the big green "Get Questions Now" button.

Then, have a look at questions your friends have already asked on the next screen - you can get back to this overview page later by clicking on the "Questions" icon that now appears in the left rail on the main screen of Facebook (a.k.a. your News Feed). Thing is, you'll probably only see a few questions unless you're friends with a bunch of early adopters - this was on the top of my own list when I first accessed Questions this morning:

And this brings up a few important questions about Facebook Questions - particularly since everyone's wondering if Facebook's newest feature is the end of the game for social questions service Quora, once the darling of social media trendspotters but now collapsing a bit under its own weight after opening its doors to more than just Internet glitterati. First, how long will it be before the service gains enough traction among our individual micro-networks that it's useful for more than just meeting new people? (In the few hours since posting a couple of questions this morning, I haven't received any useful answers from folks I know, but have been sufficiently piqued by friends' friends' answers to click through to profiles and think about making some new friend requests.) If Facebook Questions is really going to be an up-close-and-personal alternative to Quora's weighty but distant sense of authority, those close personal friends will need to opt in to the service - fast. (Which they undoubtedly will, but it's worth mentioning.)

The second question is perhaps more important in light of whether Questions will be a serious challenger to Quora: Is every query on this thing going to be answered with "your mom"? Democratizing this sort of question-and-answer service, particularly without including the sort of "vote up-vote down" functionality Quora uses for self-policing, may lead to the sort of Wild West scenario that seems to happen frequently with new additions to Facebook: Turn the feature loose, see where it breaks in terms of usefulness, privacy or user experience, then rein it in accordingly.

In the meantime, it's certainly fun to play with. A few more notes before you embark on your own Facebook Questions adventure:

  • Your personal questions, as well as your answers to others' questions, default to appearing on your Wall.
  • Once you've asked a question, you can't edit it.
  • You can ask an open-ended question, in which anyone can add an answer, or a poll, where you specify a fixed number of choices. Or you can create a poll with a few choices as a starting point, and let others add their own options too.
  • All questions and answers are public access, even if your own profile and Wall are set to private.
  • Want to see how a question evolves over time? You can follow it and receive a notification each time someone adds a new answer.
  • You can comment on a question, as long as whoever posted it has their privacy set up accordingly: If they don't let you write on their Wall, you probably can't comment on that question.

Have you used Facebook Questions yet? What do you think so far? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

susan_katz 7 years ago

Facebook's Questions v. Quora? Entirely different entities. I recently joined Quora to get the facts out about Facebook's Questions, viz. the feature 'Question' button on the Status bar. You are 100% correct when you state, "All questions and answers are public access, even if your own profile and Wall are set to private."


Facebook does not provide any privacy options for 'Question.'

This was my 'question' on Facebook's Questions, and the 'poll': A. True, B. False
I answered A. True.

If you want complete privacy, then do not engage in the latest development by Facebook called: Question. There are no options available in Privacy Settings or elsewhere for you to decide with whom you would like to share this information. It is comparable to a virus--worse, it is an invasion of your privacy.

If you have asked a question then decide you do not want it visible, the only option is to click on 'Delete' (located below "Asked By," to the right of your thumbnail). You will also have the option to 'Unvote.' Delete any Posts you have Shared. After completing these steps, 'Question' will no longer appear on your PROFILE to be viewed by anyone who is simply a member of Facebook.

The following should be noted:

  1. Once you ask a Question, anyone at all on Facebook can Vote on a Poll if you use a Poll (advice: don't allow anyone to add on choices).
  2. Anyone on Facebook can Ask Friends or Follow or 'Write something...'
  3. Anyone means Every Single Person who is a Member of Facebook has access. Malicious users will be in the mix.

The Answer to all of these Questions? Money. I'm sure the revenue will be significant for Facebook--but the legal issues may become even more significant.

In my opinion, this will emerge as a gigantic telemarketing database for Advertisers, major Corporations and the Government. Ultimately, Facebook's Questions will have nothing to do with getting Answers.

In addition, I answered this Question at Quora: What do people think of the new icon for Facebook Questions?

My answer: The icon for Questions is not geared for Q&A. It is an icon which represents a Poll Report. The subliminal representation of a Poll will produce polls not questions: the results being a data-driven daily tracking of market trends and opinions.

In the final analysis, the "symbolic poll" will produce nothing but inaccurate results and profiles with tmi.

My opinion: Not a Favicon. I say: Flag Questions.

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