Friday, March 13, 2009

Twitter as a Q&A Service

Thanks to a Twitter message from Dana Longley (aka disobedientlib on Twitter) I learned today about an interesting attempt to turn a subset of Twitter messages into a Q&A service. AskOnTwitter searches for any tweet with the phrase "Does anyone know" and displays them on its home page. Typically, those messages are questions in which someone is using Twitter to query a broad audience. AskOnTwitter aggregates all those tweets and gives you a way to reply to them using your own Twitter account.

For example, on the home page of AskOnTwitter just now was this message:
Does anyone know how to update my Twitter and Facebook at the same time? Thanks! Jackie : )
Clicking that tweet opens a new page on AskOnTwitter for just that question that gives you a link to use to "Send an Answer." Clicking "Send an Answer" then opens the Twitter home page where you can enter your answer (the box where you type already has filled in the @ symbol and the Twitter account for the person who asked the question).

This seems like another opportunity for librarians to publicly offer their assistance in the tradition of the Slam the Boards project that was launched a year and a half ago.

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4 Comments:

At 3:38 PM , Blogger Dana said...

Wonder if it would be possible and or desirable to set up an institution-specific subset of this service, so that, for example, students/faculty/staff would only see/ask/answer questions from within their institution's network?

 
At 3:59 PM , Blogger Stephen Francoeur said...

I think it would be hard to get your users to follow some sort of tweeting convention that would surface those tweets in search results. You'd have to ask everyone to include your institution name (or a shortened code version) as part of the tweet.

Another possibility to could be setting up a microblogging service that is specific to your institution (Yammer or maybe Laconica), but then you'd have to come up with a plan to make sure that your community actually uses that specialized service.

 
At 4:04 PM , Blogger Stephen Francoeur said...

Memo Cordova just offered this comment in Twitter about a somewhat similar service that uses Twitter for Q&A: ToAnswer.

 
At 2:17 PM , Anonymous caleb t-r said...

in the more traditional "reference librarian as authority" vein, @travelportland answers questions from visitors to portland, and takes suggestions from locals as well.

i think this works because people think that naturally the local tourism board will answer questions from tourists. and because the locals follow @travelportland too, making it easy to look popular.

so it wouldn't be hard to have @baruchlibrary perform a similar role, but it might be tough to convince people that you are the place to go for q+a service.

 

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