Ask announced today that it is rolling out the ability to personalize the Q&A experience, which has become the core focus of the site.
Ask users can use the "Browse by Interests" tab to view questions/answers (content) that are relevant to them, which should make the experience a great deal more useful.
"This personalized experience is part of our larger vision for what Ask.com Q&A is about" says Director of Product Management Jason Rupp. "First, if the answer already exists on the Web and you can get it in milliseconds without bugging a single person, we should give it to you. Second, if you do need a person to answer, we should optimize the chances of you getting a high quality answer – quickly – as well as make it easy and fun to ask subsequent questions."
"From a feature standpoint, that means things like intelligent routing so your question is delivered to the people most qualified to answer it first," adds Rupp. "The ability to follow people who consistently provide highly relevant questions and answers on the site also helps you customize your experience. And now, the ability to filter your experience to reflect the questions and answers most pertinent to your life takes that one step further."
Another Q&A site called Quora has been getting a great deal of attention lately, and one of its features is the ability to follow topics as well as people. This new feature would appear to be following this concept, but Ask's feature lets users grab profile info from other social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn to personalize the Interests they're following.
The biggest draw to Quora thus far has been the quality of the content - the caliber of people answering the questions. CEOs and other company executives, for example, have been answering questions, providing authoritative information.
As with any site, the quality of Ask's new features will only be as good as the content that is available. Part of that is up to the user and what they choose to follow. Given that Ask is looking to the web (not just people) for answers, it should be pretty useful.