For years, people have been turning to the web to ask perfect strangers for advice. But while largely anoymized services like Yahoo Answers have proven to be hugely popular, there’s something to be said for getting advice from people you actually know. Last month we wrote about Aardvark, a social search engine in private beta built by The Mechanical Zoo that distributes your searches across your social graph for quick, highly accurate results that are likely more credible than what you’d get from Yahoo Answers or a normal search engine. Today sees the public launch of another social advice site called Mobspin that is also leveraging the social graph, though in a slightly different manner.
Mobspin CEO Roy Goldman says that while Aardvark is a good service for questions that need near-immediate answers, many questions aren’t that urgent, which is why Mobspin is taking a more passive approach.
To use the site, you first submit a question that you’d like your friends’ help with. But rather than sending out an immediate alert to your friends letting them know that you’d like some help, the site instead sends them sporadic Email digests at intervals they’ve set. Goldman says that friends are generally eager to help anyway, and don’t need to be hit over the head with obnoxious and frequent requests. To help build up your friends list, the site has deep support for Facebook, allowing you to import your friends list as well as syndicate your questions to Facebook News Feeds.
You can also get an overview of the questions you’ve been asked at the Mobspin homepage, which allows users to filter questions by the people who have asked them (you can choose to view questions only from your friends, friends of friends, and so on). The site is also looking to serve as a repository for questions and answers – all submissions will be searchable by keyword, but will be stripped of any identifiable personal data. You can also leave reviews on the site, which are also included in the index.
Mobspin’s biggest obstacle will lie in obtaining critical mass – there isn’t much point in searching the database or submitting a question if you can never find a relevant answer. But it’s a quick way to ask your friends questions, and, unlike Aardvark, it’s publicly available. The site will be going up against a few other similar services, including Ruba, GigPark, and Yotify, which we covered here.