Facebook, which has been testing a new feature that lets users pose questions to the entire Facebook community and answer others, is finally launching the product, which it is calling Facebook Questions. The company says it will be including “ask question” as an option in the status box at the top of all users’ home pages, as well as in the search box. Questions are visible to all of the social network’s members — and can be answered by anybody.
The move thrusts Facebook in the midst of the online question and answer market, which has been very lucrative for established players and recently has attracted interest from a string of startups.
At first, Facebook will be at a disadvantage to the more established players in the market, like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Answers and Answers.com’s Wiki Answers, which have accumulated huge archives of answered questions, but that should quickly change, considering Facebook’s size (it now has 500 million members worldwide) and the fact that the social network seems intent on putting the feature front-and-center, unlike some other expansion efforts it has launched, such as its Facebook Marketplace classifieds service.
The company is also adding whistles that other online Q&A services don’t have. For instance, people will be able to affix photos and polls to their questions. Users will also be able tag questions with a general topic like “photography.” Facebook says that “people who have expressed interest” in that area will then be shown the question and be able to answer it, which should help with the quality of answers.
In a blog post, Facebook’s Blake Ross says that for now Questions will be available only to a “limited number of people” but the company is “aiming to bring this product to all of you as quickly as we can.”