Facebook Adds Topics Manager to Questions

Facebook has added a topics manager to its Q&A product Facebook Questions. A prompt for the manager explains, “Welcome to Questions. We’ll show you more interesting questions if you tell use what you’re interested in.” The manager lets users select from general topics or topics from specialized categories, and replaces the broken topics navigator which launched with Questions. The topics manager is an essential step on the path to Questions becoming a valuable and tightly integrated product worthy of rolling out from its small current tester base to all of Facebook’s users.

Until users save their topics settings they’ll be brought to the topics manager upon clicking the Questions link on the home page or a prompt at the top of answer pages. The topics manager asks users, “What are you interested in? We’ll show you questions about the topics you select below.” There they’ll be able to influence what kind of Questions they see in their feeds and Questions home page by selecting topics connected to community Pages. Users can pick general topics such as food or technology, or dig deeper into categories like arts to find topics such as poetry, animation, or interior design. There isn’t a strict hierarchy, as some topics including running appear under general as well as in subcategories such as athletics.

No official Pages, such as specific television shows, appear as topics in the Topics Manager by default. They can be searched for and selected using the search bar at the bottom of the manager. While the category interface is reminiscent of Facebook’s new Page Browser discovery tool, the topics displayed to each user don’t appear to be automatically personalized according to existing Likes, Likes of friends, or demographic information.

The topics manager replaces the Questions topics navigator which would frequently return errors stating a topic had no Questions in it when on the same screen it would list as having multiple questions. This made it very difficult to find a specific topic within which to browse Questions. It also appears that the Trending Topics and Related Topics sidebar panels has been removed, and the home page sidebar now displays Suggested Topics with “Follow” buttons next to them.

Adding a topics manager instead of a repaired navigator shows that Facebook is focusing on integrating Questions into the existing user experience, helping users receive relevant Questions in their feeds rather than promoting browsing within Questions itself. Support for both use cases will likely be necessary to make Questions a popular part of Facebook when it’s rolled out to everyone.