Formspring – Social Q&A Website
Found In: Social Networks
A great deal of social networking sites have been built are the social and casual nature of people interacted, perhaps dating and usually with the sharing of profile information and photographs. Formspring which was originally known by its domain name formspring.me is different because it is a social questions and answers web site. Launched two and a half years ago in November 2009, the site is specifically designed to allow its users after they have set up their profile page to then follow other users and to ask them direct questions. The answers to these questions are then published with the question on the user’s profile page.
The question asker can be identified or their details hidden depending on their own profile setting. Additionally, the person asked a question can have blocked any question from anonymous account holders.
Launched in Indianapolis by the founder of online form builder Formstack, Ade Olonoh at first considered Formspring to be a side-project. That is, he noticed that most of their users of Formstack were using that service create online forms that encouraged ask anything type questions and so he decided on launching the separate Formspring site to make this easier to manage. Within 45 days of the launch, Formspring rapidly gained more than one million registered users.
This rapid growth then caused Formspring to be spun off as a separately registered company in its own right, and Formspring was relocated from Indianapolis to San Francisco, California. Because of its sudden success, other web sites including Tumblr, Ask.fm, and MyYearbook’s all launched their own question and answer type functionality.
And because of its rapid growth, angel investors quickly got excited and started pumping money into Formspring, first round being for two and a half million dollars, and soon after another eleven and a half million dollars were raised. With significant cash resources in its arsenal, it took less than two years for Formspring to exceed having twenty five million registered users.
At the same time, Formspring then bolted on additional features to enable celebrities specifically designed to enable celebrities to manage the communications with fans more efficiently. This included creating verified accounts for the added safety of screening out stalkers, or at least being able to identify them more easily. The Celebrity profiles can be found under the favorites menu, and is broken up into music, comedy and a variety of other entertainment groups.
More recently, Formspring has entered a number of partnerships with the likes of MTV, Hearst, Funny or Die and The Huffington Post all of which have assisted Formspring to become more popular. And some of the numbers are staggering. For example, three and a half unique people log in to their accounts every day. More than four billion questions have been answered since the site started only two and a half years ago. Such has been its rapid growth and ascendancy, Fast Company named it to be one of the ten most innovative social media web sites on the Internet.
Formspring serves people’s needs as a global social network in many ways. When members ask each other questions, the responses can be funny or information. And the connection of celebrities and their fans has been a huge success. Users are either learning something they didn’t know about someone, or they are growing a deeper friendship and respect; even if they are on opposite sides of the world.
Formspring has Oodles of Features
Each person is able t6o configure their profile in many ways, including being able follow others privately and when logged in as a registered user, questions can be asked in either direction. That is, each user can ask anyone anything of any fan they have, or they can ask the person they are a fan of. To keep things moving and fresh, each day the Formspring site asks a generic question. Called the “Formspring Question of the Day”, it flashes in people’s inbox to prompt a response, and people’s responses often create further questions from even more people; thus having a viral affect.
All of the site is fully accessible by smart phones and iPhones and so it is now a very popular activity for people on their daily commute to work.
Users are able to manage responses to the questions they have asked or answered by sorting them in order of the amount of smiles they got. This way, the most popular answers or questions can be brought to the most prominent position and sorted in ways that enable readers to quickly get to the best information.
Sadly Formspring has Been Blamed for Some Suicides
Sadly, there have been several suicides blamed on Formspring for the ease of which the site has been used by bullies picking on teenagers. The act of bullying does seem to be part of the human condition, and is rife in most schools in the western world. And several inquests into the deaths of teenagers have had questions and answers read out in court as being the reason why these teens did kill themselves. Far from being what the Formspring site was designed for, it is a sad indictment on the youth of today that such bullying can and often does occur. To assist to mitigate the damage, Formspring along with MTV and other large organizations worked in committee with the United States Federal Government to find ways to limit the potential for misuse and for anti bullying educational efforts to be made.
At one stage, v was falsely reported in the newspaper press that Formspring was going to publish the details of an anonymous user’s responses after such a suicide, but this newspaper account was later found to be a hoax. All confidential information accumulated by Formspring remains confidential, unless the company is directed by a court order to release the information just like all other web sites would be similarly bound.
Formspring is so widely used now, that it has registered users in every country in the world.