Can you imagine being able to ask a question—any question within any topic—to a community of over 500 million active users? Facebook aims to soon make this large scale question and answer session a reality to all of its registered users in the form of “Facebook Questions.” Introduced last month as a beta project and launched to a limited group of users (with plans to expand) in late July, Facebook Questions could potentially cause a drastic change the search engine industry.
Facebook Questions’ selling point is a twist on its own normal operations: your question will be posted to the ENTIRE Facebook community rather than just your own social circle. The fairly simple idea is accompanied by a simple interface allowing you to upload pictures to enhance your question or add a poll to help opinion-based questions.
The concept of question and answer is not new: websites such as “Quora” and “Aardvark” are established and I often find myself on a very similar service, Yahoo Answers. But there is one (big) thing differentiating those sites and Facebook Questions: Facebook’s 500-million person community. The Facebook community is vocal and opinionated, and often express interest in specific topics by linking to them from their profile. Facebook Questions will be able to tap directly into the knowledge of those most relevant people by tagging the question to a specific topic.
Answers will also be published to the entire community as well—all directly tied to the askers’ and answerers’ names. Each answer features a check and X button to the right of the content that viewers to push to mark as Helpful or Not Helpful. A tally to the right of the buttons show other people’s opinions of the answer, and as the tally grows, the answers move up and down the page with the highest-ranked answers appearing at the top of the page and the lowest at the bottom.
The knowledge and opinon sharing is confined only to the walls of Facebook, as Facebook Questions is currently blocking search engines from the discussions according to Search Engine Land. Only logged-in users are able to view the Questions—a feature that may be changed in the future, Facebook officials say.
Facebook’s foundation of building personal relationships helps alleviate the concern of the potential plague of useless content and spam on Facebook Questions. With the amount of experience, knowledge, and insight Facebook’s community offers, Facebook Questions is, without a doubt, going to change the search engine world.