Facebook Launches New Version of Its Q&A Tool

Facebook released a new version of its Questions feature yesterday, 8 months after its initial version was launched in July 2010.

The new version of Questions takes the focus off public inquiries (this type of service is already dominated by Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo! Answers) and instead focuses on soliciting recommendations from friends. If you ask a question, your question shows up as a structured poll in your friends’ News Feeds, and they can vote on the various answer choices.

You have an option to create a poll with restricted answers or one that allows anybody to add answers. The latter option is helpful if you want to ask your friends questions that only require short answers, but it’s not as though there are a limited number of options. Your friends can add their answers to the answer list easily, and if they have something else to say can write it in an attached comment section. For questions that don’t work with a poll format (e.g. “Can you explain how magnets work?”), this comment section becomes the answer section.

Unlike the old version of Questions, you can no longer browse by Topic — the only questions you’ll see are the ones that pop up organically in your News Feed (you can also see questions that have been asked by friends, and only friends, in a Dashboard). This is a big change, and it means that Facebook Questions is no longer setting out to become a vast database of knowledge the way Quora is.