No matter what anyone says, one of the most fundamentally appealing qualities of social sites like Twitter and Facebook is the notion that people actually care what you’re doing or sharing. When someone ‘Likes’ your photo album on Facebook, it makes you feel good. Formspring.me is a new service that takes this feeling to a new level. It lets you invite anyone on the web to ask you questions, and gives you a platform to answer them. It’s your own personal interview. And it looks like the site is quickly taking off: a quick search on Twitter for ‘formspring.me’ yields dozens of results in the last minute alone.
The site’s core functionality is incredibly simple. You invite people to ask you any question they want (they can opt either to leave the question anonymously or leave their user info). Then, the next time you log into the site, you’re shown a list of pending questions in your inbox. You select which questions you want to answer and delete the ones you don’t. Your answers can be a word long, or you can write a few paragraphs if you want to.
The result is a stream of questions and answers that let your friends and fans learn about you — think of it as an ongoing interview, where you get to act as both the interview’s subject and moderator. The site makes it easy to connect your Formspring.me account to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Blogger, allowing you to immediately publish your answers as you write them.
The site offers a handful of widgets that you can use to easily embed a question submission form in your blog or website (you can ask me a question using the widget below). You can also use Twitter and Facebook to invite your friends to ask you more questions. And if you don’t have a particularly strong social media following, the site can serve up some random questions for you to answer.
Of course, given the fact that you get to choose exactly which questions you want to answer, you can tailor this ongoing interview to be totally self-serving. Given that many of the questions are likely to be submitted anonymously, you could even ask yourself questions that you really want to answer (“Why yes, I do regularly contribute to charity and promote world peace”). That said, it will be pretty easy to spot people who do this, and the most interesting (and popular) users will likely be the ones who are most willing to leave their comfort zone.
Popular users are likely to draw a lot of spam and negative questions. You’ll have some control over this — you can require people to log in before they submit a question (though their question will still be anonymous if they wish). But most people with a significant following can probably expect some hateful or meaningless questions. Of course, people can @reply you on Twitter with whatever they want, so this isn’t a new problem, and you’re not obligated to answer any of these questions.
There have been similar applications available for both blogs and Facebook before, but what Formspring.me lacks in originality it makes up for in execution. The site is clean and easy to navigate, and makes it easy to connect with multiple social networks and blogs. It’s currently throwing some DB Errors, but I suspect that might be because the site is quickly gaining steam. And it’s not hard to see why people are calling the site extremely addictive.
Formspring.me was created by Formspring, a company that provides tools for building web forms.