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Facebook Jumps on the Metafilter Bandwagon with New Q&A Offering
July 28, 2010 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Facebook jumps on the Metafilter Bandwagon with New Q&A Offering. Other recent entrants in our market include Ask.com, which is relying on experts to answer questions, Aardvark which asks your friends to do the work, and our favorite love-to-hate-em, Yahoo answers which is teaming with both terrible (hilarious) questions and answers. The Facebook offering will be totally public and searchable by google, with questions answerable by anyone with a Facebook account. It looks like the questions you ask will be tied to your real profile. Anyone in the Beta have a screen shot?
posted by paddingtonb (68 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hear they've rolled it out to about 1% of their users so far which should be a shitton of people but I don't know anyone who has seen it yet. Fun fact: I got an email from someone at facebook asking if I'd be interested in talking to them about opportunities re: this new Q&A thing and I told them I sort of loved my job but let me know if they wanted me to recommend anyone else. Never hears back. I bet it will be interesting. There is no WAY they can moderate that much traffic. I often wonder how facebook handles moderation generally.
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 PM on July 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Facebook handles moderation with an opaque heavy hand, as always. Good luck with Yahoo Answers II: Electric Bogaloo.
posted by GuyZero at 9:28 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And Gigaom has some more discussion about the product itself, notably mentioning "there’s no such thing as a private question on Questions". They also talk a lot about Quora which is worth checking out in my opinion, smaller techier community, using some really interesting user-interface stuff to support a sort of social question site. I use it from time to time. It's very different from AskMe, but in both good and bad ways.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the biggest reasons that the quality of AskMe is so much higher than Yahoo Answers is the hard work of the mods and the general sense (I think) that you signed up and paid your $5 to be part of a set of rules and norms that are up to the mods. For these reasons, I can't see Facebook living up to the standard AskMe sets.
posted by emilyd22222 at 9:33 PM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm in it right now. It seems to need a little bit of work, as it doesn't actually display any questions if I try to pick a topic. I do occasionally get random questions in the little suggestion area to the right.
posted by leviathan3k at 9:40 PM on July 28, 2010


It's in my profile but I'm not likely to use it. Given Facebook's shoddy history when it comes to privacy issues, the fact that "your question will be visible to everyone" gives me the willies. Also, I don't know why I'd go elsewhere when AskMe is so consistently excellent.
posted by dhammond at 9:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason, I'm part of the 1%. I haven't spent much time with it, but upon first impression, it's somewhat difficult to navigate. The single question you're looking at takes up most of the screen's real estate, with related questions, related topics, and recent activity in a sidebar.

The topics are either totally general or specific to things I've got in my profile. So Sports, Politics, Computers, David Bowie. Which results in an odd potpourri effect. "What is the plural of 'minion'?" next to "How would you rank Bowie's Berlin albums from best to worst?"

As an asker, it's a free-for-all. Go ahead, throw it out there. Or JFGI.

As someone who might answer, it's all over the place.

I'm not quite sure how useful it will turn out to be, even as a form of time-killing. It sort of feels tacked-on and not well thought out. Versus something like the marketplace app, which feels like a natural extension of FB's reach into our lives.
posted by dontoine at 9:43 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yahoo Answers is the most useless piece of shit site on the internet, and Facebook wants to copy that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:46 PM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Any Facebook question about relationships is a straight ticket to passive-aggressive drama hell. Good luck with that, 'bookies.
posted by adipocere at 9:51 PM on July 28, 2010


I deleted my Facebook profile just in time, I guess.
posted by crunchland at 9:52 PM on July 28, 2010


Yes, but I won't be participating. So where's the value?

Seriously, though, the value of a questions site isn't the ability to ask questions but the ability to receive useful answers from people who care and know what they're talking about. Sites like Ask Yahoo are only useful--and marginally at that--for "can I eat this x day old meat?"-type questions.
posted by resiny at 9:52 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The facebook thing is - so far - poorly organized and not very populated.

What dantoine said, really.
posted by rtha at 9:53 PM on July 28, 2010


Yahoo Answers is the most useless piece of shit site on the internet, and Facebook wants to copy that?

Of course -- people use it!

The degree to which Facebook has "become" the internet for some is staggering. I know a lot of people who use Facebook's IM thing instead of AIM or GTalk, and a few who even use Facebook's messaging system instead of email. They're on the fast track to becoming early-90s AOL.
posted by danb at 9:55 PM on July 28, 2010 [24 favorites]


dontoine. Sorry.
posted by rtha at 9:58 PM on July 28, 2010


Come on! That is going to be shitstorm in antique shop.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:07 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay! More bloat!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 PM on July 28, 2010


I'll stick with AskMeFi thank you very much.
posted by Fizz at 10:14 PM on July 28, 2010


No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lane.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:14 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, dinking around in there there now. It's hard to get around. I can't see more than one question at a time no matter how much I fiddle around, and the layout seems to be not at all well designed if they're really trying to get questions in front of the eyes of people who might answer them well. Some specific questions seem to be answered well (most notably in the cooking section), and others are attracting Yahoo Answers-type garbage. There are also lots of unanswerable/joke questions. I can't see how they could possibly moderate things and keep it useful to the asker if anything more than a teeny tiny sliver of a very small fraction of Facebook people start using it.

tl;dr: All Hail AskMe!
posted by charmedimsure at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2010


So let me get this straight. I now have the opportunity to create content for Facebook, a company that I barely even like, and as an added bonus, it's linked to my real name?

No, thank you.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:23 PM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I often wonder how facebook handles moderation generally.

They (probably) outsource it. There are companies that do nothing but moderation for other companies. Typically scanning for adult pics and stuff but they can do anything you want for a fee.
posted by stbalbach at 10:32 PM on July 28, 2010


I deleted my Facebook profile just in time, I guess.

Amen. Me too.
posted by phaedon at 10:37 PM on July 28, 2010


HOW IS BABBY FARMED?
posted by benzenedream at 10:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [42 favorites]


They're on the fast track to becoming early-90s AOL.

I've not seen that comparison made before. I think it's very insightful.
posted by stammer at 10:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


So no anonymity on a site whose sharing defaults border on wet dreams for stalkers, harrassers and ID thieves? What could possibly go wrong? *facepalm*
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:42 PM on July 28, 2010


This will be interesting for sure. Useful? Not more so than Yahoo! Answers, I'd imagine. Though I guess it'll go to all of your friends like a status update, so maybe it'll give me an excuse for some funny jokepranks.

AskMe (and Metafilter in general) works so well, at the top, because of the mods who are intelligent, fair, totally awesome, and most importantly are able to moderate the whole site with very few people. The flipside of this is that Metafilter is small enough that this is possible due to the ultra high level of self selection that goes first into becoming a member and next into whether one posts a question or not. And then whether your answer is worth posting.
posted by cmoj at 11:06 PM on July 28, 2010


"Other recent entrants in our market include Ask.com, which is relying on experts to answer questions"

Who? Like Jeeves? Are the questions on how to butle?
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The degree to which Facebook has "become" the internet for some is staggering.

Shhhh - don't let them hear you. In a couple of months they'll all be in there, and then we flip the giant switch and move them over to Internet B.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:10 PM on July 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


Ask.com is a company that I am only aware of when some piece of shareware attempts to trick me into installing its toolbar. This tells me that Ask.com is a worthless company that adds no value to the world.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:12 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I pretend to myself I'm immune to any kind of team spirit, so it's embarrassing how much this makes me want to do a better job answering those questions!

And be easier to get along with so I don't add any push to the pull of fat job offers.
posted by jamjam at 11:17 PM on July 28, 2010


From the Facebook blog entry's comments:
Atlanta Georgia why would i ask a bunch of facebook "friends" something I can get on the phone and ask? just saying
Exactly, Atlanta.
posted by birdherder at 11:22 PM on July 28, 2010


Each pooled knowledge sight has a strength. AskMe beats them all generally, but the answer may be a wait. Example: If I need automotive answers quickly, I'm going to 4chan/o/. I'm not endorsing 4chan in general, just pointing out the availability of congregated gear heads.
posted by Mblue at 11:30 PM on July 28, 2010


I love askme so hard, visiting any other site would feel like cheating.
posted by quadog at 11:37 PM on July 28, 2010


I'm getting it on my PC at work, but not my home machine, for some reason.

I was predisposed to hate it, but it actually seems OK. The questions I saw had reasonably good answers, I didn't see anything obviously stupid, or trolling, or flaming. From my limited impression, it's better than Yahoo! Answers (not a very high bar, admittedly). I can't see it being better than AskMeFi, for reasons above (moderation; generally high quality of intelligence here).

However, the interface had problems: it told me there were x questions on music, but when I clicked the link it said there were zero; the same for a couple of other categories.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:38 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Endless comedy will ensue when the 4channelers come out to play with FB Q&A. Reddit will be littered with screen captures.
posted by IslandTrust at 11:47 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love askme so hard, visiting any other site would feel like cheating.

DTMFA.
posted by joe lisboa at 11:57 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bar the screen caps of puerile fantasies, a 4channer saved my engine from the junk pile for less than $50. Reddit < 4chan/o/
posted by Mblue at 12:00 AM on July 29, 2010


Regarding this, anything other than "facebook should get a lawyer" is wrong and should be ignored.
posted by maxwelton at 12:07 AM on July 29, 2010


Facebook needs to see a therapist.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:14 AM on July 29, 2010


I wonder how they're going to deal with the medical and legal questions?
posted by Charmian at 12:17 AM on July 29, 2010


Screenshots: 1 2 3

Agree, usability is really sucky for browsing around. One question at a time. Stupid polls.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:29 AM on July 29, 2010


danb's aol analogy above is elegant and prescient. Did you make that up, danb? If so, well done. If not--where'd ya get it?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:46 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Facebook Questions will probably have winners mixed in with the losers, even Yahoo Answers occasionally produces a response that is as good as a quality AskMe answer. A rare event, but it happens. Ghits have successfully answered a nontrivial question or two of mine via Yahoo post. Despite a lot of Facebook hate out there, the overall mix of users who reguarly post there are no more stupid than the average semi- to fully literate online user. That alone elevates it above the large numbers of functionally illiterate users. Presumably Facebook will filter out the LOL, Iwuzhere, ZOMG throwaway responses. Presumably.

It's hard to predict whether this new venture of Facebook's will be sufficiently useful, or more accurately, sufficiently profitable, to FB to survive. In the context of Facebook, ultimately it's all about the money. That's not necessarily a bad thing by itself. MetaFilter, too, must make its server fees and admin wages to survive in its current form. However, Facebook has a very publicly poor track record in how it manages and extracts money from its ventures, and there are several easily foreseeable scenarios where this turns to fiasco. But it's not a guaranteed fail.

Anyway, the idea proffered in the original post that MetaFilter started the bandwagon of online Q&A is inaccurate. Even limited to online circumstance, public Q&A forums predate the rise of the web, and predate MetaFilter when the web begin to get traction. Some of those forums were, or are, of good quality, depending on the topic and the forum match. Topic-targeted forums could achieve excellence due to their narrow focus and the expert users attracted there. General topic forums also pre-MetaFilter's AskMe, although they could be rather hit or miss.
posted by mdevore at 12:51 AM on July 29, 2010


After I posted my FPP on the 15th anniversary of Active Worlds, I discovered that its founder, Ron Britvich, had gone on to create a service strikingly similar to AskMe. Called AskEarth, it allowed members to ask and answer questions in a wide variety of categories, and shared Mefi's laid-back, friendly feel and informal moderation (as well as its general lack of bad grammar and vapid questions).

Strangely, although it was founded in 1999 (making it as old as Metafilter), there were virtually no references to the site on the internet. No articles, no reviews, no mentions of it in blog comments or forum posts or round-ups of Q&A sites. It was simply absent from the consciousness of the web. And yet the site was still humming along, adding a handful of posts per day to its archive of nearly 100,000 questions. And each question getting a handful of answers.

The weird thing is that after I mentioned my discovery in the post, AskEarth, well, dropped off the face of the earth. Its URL doesn't work anymore, and hasn't in the several times I've tried it since then. Oddly, when I poked around the site after first finding it, there was no notice of any impending shutdown or anything. It just vanished without a peep.

It's really disquieting for some reason, like the whole project was a delicate artifact of some forgotten proto-internet that somehow survived in its own isolated bubble, separated from the rest of the web and sustaining itself for years on its own small community. And as soon as I brought it to light, the fragile thing crumbled and disintegrated like an ancient document disturbed for the first time in centuries. It's kind of like Britvich's Active Worlds project, in a way... a bustling virtual world created by tens of thousands of people, but now abandoned, frozen in time.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:53 AM on July 29, 2010 [17 favorites]


Have they figured out hardcore taters yet?
posted by Tube at 1:41 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


They asked me to submit an answer to qualify as an answerer or something. Not interested, for all the reasons listed by others. I passed on it. As soon as one of the federated alternatives is viable, I'm leaving Facebook anyway.

In other Facebook news, somebody crawled Facebook & indexed 171 million users, made the results available via BitTorrent.
posted by scalefree at 1:52 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not wishing to be negative, but the potential for abuse of this sort of thing is huge.

I imagine there would have been all sorts of problems a couple of weeks ago re Raoul Moat, and with John Venables, etc, and with all the Wikileaks stuff.

As someone said Facebook cannot moderate this, and it's an absolute shitstorm waiting to happen, IMHO.
posted by DanCall at 2:19 AM on July 29, 2010


So let me get this straight. I now have the opportunity to create content for Facebook, a company that I barely even like, and as an added bonus, it's linked to my real name?

Don't forget - you also get to do this without pay. What's not to like?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 AM on July 29, 2010


Huh. I saw something like this on Facebook a month or so ago (with a different logo and a different layout) but it disappeared within a couple of weeks. I assumed they'd just abandoned the idea for some reason.
posted by eykal at 4:19 AM on July 29, 2010


It'll be interesting to see the inevitable stories about Facebook questions/answers that get people fired from their jobs.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:32 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is that a large percentage of Facebook users are morons.

Q: How do I get my dog to stop begging at the table?
A: Obarmar is a communiss.
posted by electroboy at 4:54 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


It'll be great, for those who use Facebook a lot. Yes, there there mistakes and stupid questions and questions that really should be private going public. But it'll work for the Facebook crown, further binding them to the service.

I can't see it on my profile yet, but once it pops up I'll try it out, particularly for those chatfilter like and what was the name of that movie/book/show/actor type questions, while saving questions about bondage with furries for AskMe.

This site is awesome, but I'd caution members here not to look down on those who use other sites for Q&A. There's plenty of room for the various populations and there's no need to cut them down to make ourselves feel superior.
posted by nomadicink at 5:17 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A Facebook Q/A section stands a far better chance of becoming a ginormous eHow, than it does becoming an AskMe. Unfortunately, given Facebook's size, it also stands a good chance of achieving legitimacy through sheer mass, rather than through, y'know, accuracy.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:46 AM on July 29, 2010


I think it is very clever to use the things a person "likes" to focus questions at them.
posted by smackfu at 5:47 AM on July 29, 2010


Yahoo Answers is the most useless piece of shit site on the internet

I'll stand up for YahooAnswers- yes, there's a lot of junk on there, but there's a decent amount of good stuff, too. I've searched the archives on some topics and managed to find answers to things.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:14 AM on July 29, 2010


The benefit of Yahoo Answers is volume. I was having a dental procedure done and there wasn't a single mention of it on AskMe but there were 5 questions on the topic on Yahoo.
posted by smackfu at 6:17 AM on July 29, 2010


I suspect lamebook is going to get a lot more awesome.
posted by chunking express at 6:40 AM on July 29, 2010


The questions are terrible, or so I thought...

"I LOVE Blink! I also read another book Mr. Gladwell mentions in Blink, called The Gift of Fear. Amazing and fascinating as well?"


But then I clicked through and they aren't THAT bad!

"Where's a good sushi class in LA?"
"What sports could I start my 4 year old in?"
posted by k8t at 6:52 AM on July 29, 2010


Have yet to see this on FB, but am glad to hear that the questions are decent (so far). I have to admit I was anticipating lots of text-speak and teen/tween vernacular.

I still plan to come to AskMe first, though.
posted by sundrop at 7:00 AM on July 29, 2010


Did you make that up, danb? If so, well done. If not--where'd ya get it?

Thanks! I did make it up, but it looks like I'm not the only one with that idea.
posted by danb at 7:03 AM on July 29, 2010


The answers aren't very good.

There was a question about "best way to lose weight" and there was lots of shouting "South Beach" "Cookie"!
posted by k8t at 7:17 AM on July 29, 2010


Dr Dracator: Shhhh - don't let them hear you. In a couple of months they'll all be in there, and then we flip the giant switch and move them over to Internet B.

Oh my gosh, Dr D--will The Eternal September be over at last?!

(My bet is no. But it's not a bad start.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:26 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, ReadWriteWeb starts pondering how an API might fit into the picture.
posted by gimonca at 8:31 AM on July 29, 2010


So, this morning, if I click on the little lightbulb in the sidebar of my fb page, it takes me to a page and tells me to choose a topic. San Francisco appears to have 20 questions (SAIT), and that's where I live, so I click the San Francisco topic icon.....and am told there are no questions on this topic. Same for politics. The Labour party. Computers. Facebook itself.

Way to go, fb.
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on July 29, 2010


anonymous questions and answers can be posted using fake accounts. Should prove to be an interesting social phenomenon.
posted by indigo4963 at 9:54 AM on July 29, 2010


Someone should make a facebook profile for Ask.Metafilter's Anonymous and periodically post actual questions from the anonymous human relations' backlog. That would be one fucked up person.
posted by Think_Long at 11:42 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


rtha, I had the same issue earlier, but they're showing up for me now. I just took a look at some of the questions and it seems like basically 70% chatfilter and 30% "previously" links. Lots of "predict the future for me" questions and "what is the best band in the world" questions with a generous topping of "let me google that for you, here are 7 good AskMes."

Plus I kinda feel like either you're my actual friend in real life and you'd ask me these questions in a less impersonal way, or you're essentially a stranger admitting some kind of weird knowledge deficiency that your boss and friends and family can all read, and I don't want to be publicly schooling your ignant ass. I don't see a middle ground here. Everyone is on facebook. I don't want to be Hermione-ing up your FB page with my vast stores of facts because it makes everyone involved in the transaction look eccentric. You just said "I fail at self-sufficiency" to which I respond "I am a know-it-all" and anyone can find this, under my real name, for all time?

I'm sure this will be a success to some degree because Facebook is a juggernaut, so probably in 2 years I'll be like employed as a fulltime question-answerer for Facebook and I'll look back at this post and shake my head ruefully, but give me AskMe or give me...actual friends I can ask things, I guess?

Maybe what this really is, is the watershed moment where Facebook becomes completely overrun with sockpuppets. My first thought reading some of these questions was "I am SO registering a couple fake names so I can snark all over this little query without anyone I know getting wind."
posted by little light-giver at 10:26 PM on July 29, 2010


Plus I kinda feel like either you're my actual friend in real life

Well, there's actual friends and there are Facebook friends and they aren't the same for a lot of people. I have friends with 500+ Facebook friends.
posted by smackfu at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2010


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