Tag Archives: tools

New Tricks for Facebook

29 Apr

Facebook can’t exactly be called an old dog (at 7 years and counting its younger than many of man’s best friends) but more and more talk has been conspiring about new uses for the social networking site. The flexibility of communication available on the software platform allow facebook to do many more things then its core functions. Applications are a given part of facebook, many a high school student or grandmother spend hours playing mafia wars or developing a virtual world on farmville. The key to a new trick is when you take the existing elements available and find totally new uses for it. In recent months a few interested proposals for new tricks for facebook have arisen.

Agile Management

There are many different styles of project management but my personal favorite is the agile way. Finding the perfect piece of software to handle agile project management is an ongoing mission of mine (right now I’m pretty happy with Assembla). I was excited to see someone suggest that facebook groups be used as a way of managing an agile project. Sure there are issues like code repositories (if you’re developing software) but for many projects facebook could be just as viable as basecamp.

News Reporting

Journalism is no longer a fringe use of facebook. The rise of fan pages like that of NPR’s have married the two nicely. The use of facebook as a news source is still a little less set in stone. Facebook, much like twitter, is crowd sourcing at its finest. Everyone publishes information about an event/story and then others connect to that item comment on it and share their perspectives. With some search skills and third party tools facebook has a lot of potential for journalists.

Politics

The 2008 Obama campaign reached out to young voters like never before. The use of facebook and social media at large was a significant change from prior campaigns and has now come to be accepted as a necessity for all politicians. Facebook allows politicians to connect with individuals in ways that are time sensitive, subject relevant and accountable. A great example of merging social media and politics is the fan page of Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan. Her facebook presence promoted fans to share relevant information about the issues prior to election and now that she’s mayor it serves as a sounding board for the community. Kind of like a 24/7 town hall meeting.

It’s Complicated…

28 Apr

Rarely do I feel like its a good idea for anyone with any hope of ever maintaining a relationship to broadcast their status as “It’s Complicated” but when it comes to myself and facebook that expression sums it up pretty well.

Facebook has gone from yet one more online account that I maintained simply for the sake of owning my favorite handle everywhere; to a slightly addictive tool I used to share baby pics with my Grandmother; then to another software platform in which to code  web apps; later it became a time leach to be conquered. Finally, with the help of some third parties, Facebook and I have come to an understanding.

With the help of yoono I publish quick thoughts and status updates to my friends and family on Facebook a couple times a day; I also use the small browser app to view a steady stream of updates from my newsfeed. I benefit from the access to my friends and family without Facebook consuming multiple hours of each day.

As ideal as our new arrangement may sound there are still rough spots in our relationship. Access to features like pages are all but non-existent in apps like yoono and I still get sucked into viewing all 400 photos of a wedding for a friend I haven’t had any meaningful interactions with for a decade more frequently then I’d like to admit.

It’s no where near perfect but the outlook for our relationship is stable, if complicated.

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.

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.