Last year after much speculation and leaked screenshots Facebook launched a product called Questions. The product was a Question and Answer service that allowed users to poll all of Facebook. The motivation behind it was fairly straightforward — users were already using their status updates as polls, so why not give them a more efficient way to do it.
Back then it was seen taking on Q and A sites such as Yahoo Answers and Quora with Facebook’s then 500-million users. Interestingly Quora was founded by former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo and engineer/manager Charlie Cheever.
Needless to say, Questions never really took off.
On Thursday the social network announced that it had decided to give it another try by relaunching the product with some significant changes. The new Questions, unlike the old one, is more about getting information and recommendations from friends rather than a public poll to all of Facebook.
“There are a lot of places you can go on the internet to ask questions of people who you don’t know, but there are very few places you can go to get responses from your friends,” said Adrian Graham, a project manager for Questions. “We thought that this is where we should focus.”
There are two options when asking a question, you can either create a poll with limited answers or one that allows your friends to add their own answers. These type of questions generally require short answers and work well for recommendations such as favourite sushi bars, Spa, book stores or holiday destinations. Things your friends can easily give you recommendations on. Friends can add their answers with attached comments if they wish to say more. All this can be done within newsfeeds and profile pages, unlike the earlier version of Questions you can no longer browse by topic.
Even though your questions are no longer posed to all of Facebook (Questions is no longer aiming to be a database of knowledge like Quora) it still has the potential to go viral. When your friends answer your questions, it shows up on their newsfeed which is visible to their friends who are also able to answer. This means you can potentially get answers from people you don’t know because.
Once your answers begin coming through each option’s box fills to reflect its popularity. Users can see the poll questions and results at the same time. Facebook also displays the profile photos of users next to the options they select. Facebook also prepopulates a drop-down menu with corresponding Facebook pages when users are adding options to their polls.
Unlike the old version which was rolled out to only a few select testers, Facebook is giving users who wish to opt-in immediate access to the service. You can start asking your friends questions here.