If you have ever used Ask MetaFilter or Yahoo Answers, you already understand the basic premise of ToAnswer. Some users ask questions, the questions are indexed, and other users respond to questions that may know the answer to. It’s a simple, efficient way to query the minds of others.
So what’s the point, if Ask Metafilter and Yahoo Answers provide the same service? ToAnswer is special in one way: it interfaces with Twitter. This provides advantages and disadvantages that gives ToAnswer a unique niche. It allows you to tap Twitter’s enormous user base. However, due to the nature of Twitter you are limited to 140-character questions and answers. This makes ToAnswer the perfect medium for making small polls or quick questions.
- 1) Sign up for a Twitter account
- You surely have a Twitter account already, don’t you? If not, you’re in the minority. Twitter is a micro-blogging site that limits users to 140-character posts. It’s more addicting than curry. Sign up here.
- 2) Follow ToAsk & ToAnswer
- After you’re logged in, visit the ToAsk & ToAnswer profiles. Underneath the user avatar (picture of the birdie in the top right), there is a grey button that says “Follow”. Click on that.
- 3) Ask your own questions
- To pose a question to the Twitterverse, post a Twitter update with the following format:
@ToAsk Are there any good pizza joints in downtown Los Angeles?
The ToAnswer birdie scours Twitter looking for new questions, and it will find your question, index it, and post it on the ToAnswer homepage in just a few minutes.
- 4) Answer others’ questions
- On the ToAnswer homepage there is a listing of the questions that users have asked. If you see any questions that you are able to answer, then choose the “Answer this question” link under the question. The link will bring you to Twitter, with the update box populated with the necessary prefix. For posterity, the answer format should look like this:
@ToAnswer [question id] No, there’s no such thing as good pizza outside of NYC.
It is important that you do not delete the seemingly arbitrary ID number. It associates your answer with the proper question.