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Facebook questions – revolution, or doomed to fail?

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
30 July 2010

Facebook have recently rolled out a new feature to a small set of lucky (?) beta testers – namely, Facebook questions. If you think this sounds like a familiar idea (or if you have used the feature already) you’ll probably be making connections to Yahoo! Answers, the once-innovative question-and-answer “Crowd Source” service. And you’d be right to – aside from the differentiator of relying on Facebook’s massive community (and your connections) to answer the questions, the service is essentially the same as Answers – which is my main issue with it right now.

facebook-answers

Ignoring the fact that it doesn’t always work properly – it is only in Beta after all – it doesn’t do anything really different to Answers, so the only conclusion I can come to is that Facebook now believe they are powerful enough to reinvent wheels. Plus, haven’t these people asking questions ever heard of Google?!

My frustration with Facebook’s new branching-out goes all the way back to their launch of community pages – the auto-generated pages for virtually everything under the sun, which come from users’ likes and dislikes on their profile. Whilst I can see good intentions were behind that initiative, the system is now riddled with spam and nonsense (see my post “The trouble with Facebook community pages…” for more on that). The same thing is already, even in the Beta stage, happening with questions. Here’s a few examples of questions I had ‘suggested’ to me when I browsed around the section just now…

  • 6a0120a85dcdae970b0120a86df78c970bCan we pretend that Airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?
  • Vicki Chang, do you have something fun planned for the weekend?
  • Ordered macho fries and double cheeseburger, but now I feel like tacos. Tacos?
  • Is it just me or does Nicolas Cage sound like he’s FREEKING tired of makeing movies? He uses the same monotone voice in every movie DX!
  • I am professional to ask and discuss about complicated questions, such as this one : What is a miracle?

I didn’t even have to scroll through dozens of sensible questions to get those – there were literally 4 that I deleted in between to get to those! Not exactly added-value content is it?

I know I’m probably being a bit of a moan-a-lot here, but can’t Facebook concentrate their efforts on trying to make existing elements of the site better, before branching out and trying to reinvent every wheel they can find? I’m not so stupid as to imply that people will leave the site because of this service, because let’s be honest, they’re not. But I’m pretty sure there is going to be a lot of head-scratching going on when it rolls-out in full.

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