Q: Are there enough Q&A services on the Web?
Facebook announced Thursday that its Q&A service, simply called Facebook Questions, will start rolling out to all users.
Though going up against a slew of old-timers, including Yahoo! Answers, Ask.com and ChaCha, as well as fresh faces like Opinionaided, Quora and Hipster, Facebook will easily have the upper hand when it comes to personalized answers from friends. While new mobile and social startups have sought to create powerful Q&A services that integrate directly with the user’s social graph, Facebook Questions may have just squashed them all by hosting the ability to ask and answer questions in-house.
Interestingly and perhaps a bit predictably, Facebook says its new Questions feature grew organically from normal site usage.
“We noticed that people were frequently asking for opinions (‘what are your favorite restaurants in New York?’) or hoping to learn about their friends (‘what was your favorite movie as a kid, something you watched over and over?’),” says Adrian Graham, product manager for Questions. “For most of these questions, experts weren't going to be the best source for advice. The answers to these questions are meaningful or interesting because you know your friends and your friends know you.”
Besides being able to add unique answers, users will be able to concur with a previously submitted answer with a single click. The service displays little bar graphs underneath the answers, to demonstrate the most popular responses, and user avatars appear at right so you know at a glance who voted how.
Users can also reach a larger pool of responses by looking at votes from friends of friends and even total strangers, but Facebook says the focus is largely placed on friends’ responses.
Facebook Questions has been in development since at least last summer, when it was first tested with a small group of users. Though Facebook says all users will be seeing the service soon, launches usually take a few weeks to hit all accounts.
Finally, a new Facebook feature that doesn’t have the government, privacy groups, and everyone’s moms up in arms: