Tag Archives: apps

Facebook Questions: Here to Stay?

7 Apr

Facebook recently published for general public consumption the new questions feature. They tout this feature as assisting users by enabling them to, “learn from their friends, see what you know, and see where people stand.[facebook]” While questions seems to have taken off in its general use by the facebook community (my own page has been littered with polls over the past week) does the app really have both staying power and the potential to overcome other popular question/answer sites?

Mashable published a wonderful rundown of the facebook questions features earlier this week:

  • Photo questions: For example, if you take a picture of a bird, but don’t know what species it is, you can post the picture on Facebook Questions and get your answer.
  • Polling: If you’re simply looking for the answer to Which city is better: Chicago or Dallas?, you can get your answer by creating a poll.
  • Tagging: The company seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on tagging questions based on category or topic. The goal seems to be to make Q&A discovery an easier and faster process by making it simple to look up questions on cooking, photography, San Francisco or a variety of other topics.
  • Topic exploration: Facebook described this as a roulette-type feature that allows users to browse Facebook’s eventual mountain of Q&A. Under the “Questions about” drop-down menu, there’s a feature called “Everything” that allows users to browse the company’s catalog of questions.
  • Following: You can follow specific questions for updates and new answers.
  • Updated homepage: Facebook Questions does actually change the homepage, adding a new bar at the top of the page where you can choose to update your status, ask a question, add photos, or post a link. [mashable]

Last year facebook released a similar feature by the same name in a limited beta form. The app did not enjoy a welcome reception and was eventually removed largely because of overwhelmingly poor reviews. The original Facebook Questions was a direct competitor with other Q&A sites on the market, most notably the (at the time) new start-up Quora. This new feature shares some commonalities with its past counterpart but is no longer a direct competitor with other Q&A services which means facebooks answers may have a better long term survival chance.

Similar in concept to Yahoo! AnswersQuora and Mahalo, Facebook Questions gives users the opportunity to ask questions just by clicking the “Ask Question” button on the homepage. Questions is also available on friends’ profiles just as you would post on someone’s wall. [mashable]

Unlike the Q&A site Quora,Facebook Questions allows brands to ask and answer questions. On Quora you have to be a person, but Facebook Questions uses your nonprofit’s Page and avatar as your Facebook Questions identity. [NonProfit Tech 2.0]

One of the big questions is if Facebook Questions can avoid (or survive) some of the things that plague Yahoo Answers and some other Q&A sites: spam, uninteresting chit-chat posed as a question, and so forth. If it does, it will probably be due to the size of Facebook’s user base and the depth of the personal connections that many users have made. Facebook is building a Q&A service around an existing and popular social graph; the competition, to a large degree, is trying to add social features on top of a Q&A service. [search engine land]

Facebook has also captured a new market that is otherwise overlooked by other Q&A sites, Businesses and Organizations. Over the past couple of years Facebook has improved its business offerings and has made a nice place for itself as one of the top tools for online business promotion.

…Questions has a lot to offer small businesses. For example, are you straddling the fence over two ways to change a product or service but can’t make up your mind? Use Questions to ask your business’ friends list or followers whose opinions, of course, you care about. Their friends’ opinions are worth a lot as well since they very likely share similar wants and tastes with your businesses’ network. The polling results that Questions offers can also help you quantify and analyze responses. [pcworld]

The virality of questions and the prominence Facebook is placing within newsfeeds and notifications should capture the attention of brands with fan pages.  Questions are a utility specifically built not just to facilitate a fan page to ask a question to a base of their fans, but for that question to go a network beyond, and further if possible. This is an exciting engagement opportunity for branded pages to utilize. [Ignite Social Media]

Only time can tell for sure if Facebook Questions will be a success story but the very accessible app seems to have a lot of promise.

Curation

6 Apr

Curation has become a hot buzzword in the internet circles of bloggers and journalists as of late. The reception of the new term (well new to this context) has been mostly positive; however, a few people have kindly pointed out that the term might be more buzz than substance when it comes to journalism. There is discussion of whether a curator is really just an editor in the news process – I see it as a little more abstract than that.

My personal feeling is that curation will hold a very significant role in the future of content on the internet but I don’t see it as journalistic role. I think the that the concept of time and timeliness which is a major aspect of journalism does not exist in the same context in curation. Instead, I see the content curators as a separate group which may be used by many journalists but aren’t really journalists themselves.

At its core the role of a curator is to aggregate and organize a collection. In the context of content this could be called a librarian, which would make libraries and media databases the home for content collections. Historically paper newspapers have been collected by libraries and stored on microfiche for later reference by anyone who is interested. The act of managing that data sounds much like the role of a content curator.

The other thing I find interesting is the idea of curators adding analysis and editorial to their collections – in some ways this seems counter to the role. If curators are drawing conclusions then where do people go for facts? Obviously to be able to organize and catalog content and other data its is very helpful to have an extensive understanding of the subject but if curator both controls the content and produces analysis about the content then we’ve missed the role of academics and could easily risk losing out on the importance of primary resources for individuals.

If curators don’t do analysis the question becomes whether their role is really needed in this ever more tech savvy world. A new app called MemoLane curates and archives the online life of an individual. This same approach could easily be taken with regards to a subject or set of subjects. Access to information is the key to the success of the “information age” the only questions left is how we will get there and who will control it?

Compare Your Answers

24 Mar

As time moves on and the basis for our society and economy continue to make the shift away from the industrial revolution towards information technologies the need for questions and answers is inevitably going to increase. Thankfully there is one thing the internet does really well… contain answers. Furthermore there are a number of sites dedicated to helping people ask and answer questions.

The following is a comparison of 5 top answer site. The same question was searched for and then asked from each site – both the process and results were compared.

My Question: How should a journalist evaluate a possible story and sources?

Yahoo Answers

http://answers.yahoo.com/

Yahoo answers has been a major player in the answers field for many years now. The idea is simple you ask questions and you answer questions, this getting a little more complicated by the use of a points system that rewards you for answering questions and having the “best” answer to a question and reduces points when you ask new questions.

The Pros:

  • Asking questions is easy
  • Searching is easy
  • Recommends categories

The Cons:

  • Recommends similar questions but only after you’ve posted – which is less helpful.
  • You have to have a yahoo account to post questions.

My question?

Wasn’t there originally but I did get a response and it was very well thought out and useful.

Quora

http://www.quora.com/

A relatively new kid on the answer block, quora takes the concept of questions and answers and mixes them together in a social media platform. The site is simple to use and easy to get started.

The Pros:

  • Allows you to “follow” topics/people of interest
  • Searching for a question and adding a question is the same action – makes things easy.

The Cons:

  • Requires you have a Quora account
  • User Interface could be slightly more intuitive

My Question:

Similar questions had been asked which had very nice answers. My question is is being followed by others but no answers still.

LinkedIn Answers

http://www.linkedin.com/answers

My previous experiences with LinkedIn Answers have been largely positive and I think there is a great deal to be said for having a captive audience of users that are actually in the field related to your question.

The Pros:

  • Greater probability of answers from professionals in the field
  • Incentives to answer questions and do so well

The Cons:

  • The Search function is not as open (doesn’t find only keywords or make suggestions)
  • Categories are less intuitive and not suggested (couldnt’ find a news or journalism category)

My Question?

Wasn’t available when searching. Now, what surprised me a bit was the only answer I received for my question was really snippy and kind of demeaning. Previous experience with LinkedIn Answers would suggest this isn’t the case normally but it was enough to make me consider other outlets for my next question.

Ask.Com

http://www.ask.com/

Ask has been around for a while and is a hybrid between answer site and search engine. This dynamic combinations makes finding information very easy – if not a little overwhelming at times.

The Pros:

  • Finds answers from across the web – not just the immediate community
  • Interfaces with linkedin for login makes it easy to join
  • Asking the community is very easy, no categories to worry about and the question is transfered from your search to the question form.

The Cons:

  • Having answers to your queries come from across the web can be a little bit of information overload and is really no more useful that a good google search.

My Question?

The exact question wasn’t in the search results but lots and lots and lots of pages with helpful information were. After asking my question… its just sat there unanswered.

Wiki Answers

http://wiki.answers.com/

Occaisionally when researching a topic wiki.answers.com will show up in the search results – unfortunately the questions were rarely answered and most often irrelevant to the search if they were. Having now used Wiki Answers to ask a question I’m fairly certain that the entire site exists solely increase search rankings and gain advertising dollars.

The Pros:

  • A search provided multiple questions that were very close to mine.
  • Easy to ask question, prefilled form, suggests categories.
  • No login necessary forasking but is for getting responses sent to you.

The Cons:

  • Answers to similar questions really really sucked (bad grammer, incomplete answers, etc..).

My Question?

Has yet to be answered and all related questions were answered but had one sentence answers that were little more than the question phrased as a statement.

Boasting Vs. Branding

18 Mar

The idea and importance of the self-brand is such an accepted thing today that almost every online persona is ready to promote the personal self at any opportunity. The idea of self-promotion has always been a  thorn in my side. Whether its the way I was raised or just an element of my personality, in any given situation there are a million other things I’d prefer to talk about than myself and how great I am. This week I decided to overcome this hatred of self branding and finally define for myself the line between branding and bragging. This task called for some external assistance a little more powerful than a simple google search; in steps LinkedIn Answers to the rescue.

What suggestions are there have for overcoming the dislike of writing about oneself? Whether it be cover letters, resumes or bios, it always feels arrogant to write about my accomplishments, skills and assets.

I posted the above question fully expecting to get the same canned answers that I’ve read a million times before, be data driven, record your voice saying it and then transcribe that. These are great suggestions… for someone who doesn’t have any trouble talking about themselves – but in my case the two kinda go hand-in-hand. I was thrilled that with in a couple of days I had received 15 very thoughtful answers about the topic from others on LinkedIn who were just trying to help for the sake of altruism. while some of the answers did conform to the standard advice you would find anywhere – others provided a totally new and very interesting perspective on the task.

Some hi-lights:

The important thing to remember is that you are helping someone who is in desparate need of your skills and accomplishments. – Sharon Bailly

Get more, not less personal. And tell success stories about how you’ve helped your clients – Sally Strackbein

What could I say about you that would really p___ you off? Your designs are utterly unoriginal! You can’t make deadlines! You can’t spell! You can’t take criticism! – William Bell

As a developer, maybe you could think about it more like writing a specification as you would for a computer program. – Taylor Winship

When writing a cover letter or a bio, I find it best to simply sit down and tell a story…your story. People tend to get caught up on how to brag about who they are, describe their accomplished, and highlight their unique skills. – Jon Fernandez

Some of the above items may seem simple enough once you read them but none of theme have every been on my radar when writing up a bio. Some are slightly contradictory to one another, such as being less personal vs being more personal, but I like both for different occasions. Last year I did an experiment with sending out overly arrogant cover letters, the idea was in response to the number of incredibly overconfident but under-qualified I had recently encounted in working relationships. The results of this were infact surprising. There could be very large holes in the skills defined by my resume but with enough boasting in the cover letter I would still get considerably more return calls than when using my usual writing style in cover letters. Small tests like this have given me insight into a couple of key things; people actually do read cover letter, and people care more about your personality then your background and list of skills.

And so with many new ideas I go forth to do many a bio revision. Tip: check back soon for a proper author bio on this blog too.