Facebook is beta testing a product in the same space that so many giants have attacked and fallen short. The curated question-answer service has stumped the biggest of bigs. Has it been about social scale all along?
I just clicked on an innocent looking Facebook ad asking for beta testers. What followed was a page explaining how Facebook was launching a new product that involves getting users to ask and answer questions that will be published to Facebook as a whole.
Drake’s Note: I’ve copied and pasted the beta user offer from Facebook at the bottom of this post. Decide for yourself if I’m reading this right.
For those with only a moderate level of tech obsession, the service Im talking about is one in which users interact with each other, posing and answering questions, that can then be searched by all. Sort of what user forums are for software.
Google has tried it, Yahoo has tried it, and Quora, a tech-darling of the moment, is trying it. I’m a beta tester for Quora, and have used several ask-answer type services online. A missing link for many has always been scale of the user community.
We’ve all heard the, “if Facebook were a country statistics”… or, if you haven’t, heres a handy info-graphic (thats already 2 months old).
I include the graph only to say that Facebook has scale if it has anything, and even including the recent privacy hullabaloo, the 80% of users who could care less still add up to a ferociously huge user population for an ask-answer service.
Ok, ok. Yes. Google has scale. Yahoo, well, they once had scale. But both boast core services that are based on moving freely in and out of their pages. Nothing keeps users in like walled garden.
Additionally, there is something inherently social about asking questions that the early ask-answer crowd seems to have missed.
Yes, I want an expert to answer my question about how a catalytic converter works (or wikipedia), but if I want to know how to throw the best dinner party, I am just as likely to take notes on an answer from a friend of mine who throws great parties as I am from Paula Dean. Maybe more so.
Quora realizes this. They have built out a whole social networking component to their service, and encourage you to connect the other networks you are already a part of.
But what’s harder? Getting people to know one another, or getting wannabe pundits to pontificate about something they are interested in… on the internet? I know I’m an easy sell on the latter. Just ask me
Below is the copy and pasted text from Facebook’s, “so you wanna be a beta tester” questionnaire. Decide for yourself what they are up to.
Help us build the future of Facebook.
We at Facebook are preparing to launch a brand new product to the world. We think it will be as exciting as Facebook Photos and Facebook Events, but we need your help to make it great.
As a beta tester, your job will be to ask great questions and provide great answers about your favorite topics. Economics? Skydiving? Relationships? Mexican Restaurants? It’s up to you. You’ll be the first person outside of Facebook to use this product. Your expert writing will be seen by tens of millions of people — including job recruiters. And we’ll bring our best beta testers out to California to tour Facebook headquarters and meet the team.
Ready to get started?
Before we can give you exclusive beta access, we’d like you to submit three great sample questions and answers. We’re looking for evidence that you can write clearly and authoritatively on familiar subject matter.
Here are some guidelines to follow when submitting your questions and answers:
Choose provocative questions. Write about things you know. Some examples:
How can I get over my fear of flying?
What are some fun family activities to do with two small children on the weekend?
What caused the U.S. stock market to crash in 2009?
What’s the secret to throwing a great housewarming party?
What are the main differences between Google Chrome and Internet Explorer?
What are women looking for in a relationship?
What methods has BP tried to clean up the oil spill?
What should I do to prepare for the Bar exam?
How did The Beatles find success?
Write detailed, articulate answers.
Where relevant, cite and link to third-party sources such as Wikipedia.
Your answer must be original. Plagiarism is unacceptable.