When Facebook first launched its Questions feature last summer, we predicted that things were "about to change dramatically on the world's largest social network." The launch turned out to be a bit of a false start, however, and the feature never took off.
Today, Facebook announced that It has launched a revamped version its Questions product, making it even easier to quickly gather "the wisdom of friends," rather than the wisdom of the masses.
At first, Questions tried to do what sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora already do. It attempted to surface the best answer to a question by aggregating answers and letting users vote for the best one. It was topically organized and focused more on general knowledge than opinion.
The revamped version of Questions focuses less on categorical knowledge and more on making it quick and easy for users to ask for their friends' opinions.
"We noticed that people were frequently asking for opinions ('what are your favorite restaurants in New York?') or hoping to learn about their friends 'what was your favorite movie as a kid, something you watched over and over?')," writes Questions product manager Adrian Graham. "For most of these questions, experts weren't going to be the best source for advice. The answers to these questions are meaningful or interesting because you know your friends and your friends know you."
The new version offers the ability to quickly poll your friends with multiple choice questions, where friends can either quickly choose an answer or add one of their own. Questions are also shared with friends of friends who answer the question, helping you to "cast a wider net."
While we were initially excited about Questions as something "people will end up spending hours browsing through...learning things," there are already plenty of sources for knowledge on the Internet. From Wikipedia to Quora, the wisdom and knowledge of the crowd is already being harnessed. Facebook Questions, on the other hand, makes it quick and easy to ask the people you trust the most - your friends - simple things like where to eat, what movie to watch and how to go about your daily life. That's something Wikipedia and Quora could never really answer.
While everyone on Quora may agree on the best restaurant in my neighborhood, the service suffers from the same issue as something like Yelp - maybe I don't agree with the masses. Maybe I'm friends with my friends because we all like divey, dirty, cheap restaurants with "atmosphere" and other such things. Maybe five stars has no bearing on my taste. Facebook Questions will make it easy to gather this type of information - subjective and social graph specific information - not the agreed upon answer of the general masses.
Facebook says that the new feature will be "available to everyone soon."