For the last 20 years I have created web-based games, produced video podcasts and tutorials, written computer books, and developed mobile apps. But I hope my next project overshadows all of that and becomes my legacy.
The Internet has allowed us to connect with each other in many ways. There’s the one-to-one of email and messaging and the one-to-many of web publishing and social networking.
Another way to connect is through question-and-answer sites. Some people use their own web sites to answer questions. Discussion forums and social networks provide a make-shift way to ask an individual questions. There are also sites that focus on one question at a time, allowing multiple people to chime in with answers.
My new site is AskAny.com. The idea is simple: you introduce yourself and some aspect of your life. Maybe it is your job (I am a firefighter), maybe it is your hobby (I collect comic books), perhaps something you have experienced (I was at the March on Washington), or some other aspect of yourself (I run marathons with a prosthetic leg).
Others visit the page you created and can ask you questions. You then answer the questions and spread knowledge and understanding. AskAny.com is a way for people to connect and learn about others.
I am making two assumptions in creating AskAny.com. But I think they are pretty safe assumptions.
The first is that people like to talk about themselves and things that interest them.
This could be for promotional purposes, such as plugging their new blog, website or startup. This could also be because a person feels it is important to spread information about a situation or cause, such as surviving cancer or wildlife conservation. Or it could simply be because someone is passionate about something, such as playing music or following a sports team.
The second assumption is that people are curious about others and the world around them. I hope that they see these pages and want to ask questions.
On a page titled “I am a firefighter” I want people to ask things like: “What was your most dangerous rescue?” or “How do I become a firefighter” or “Do you have a dalmation at your fire station?”
So here’s more about the site. First you create an account and then can create one or multiple pages if you wish. For instance, you can have one about your job and also one about your hobby.
If you have something to promote, then promote it! Bloggers are often told to promote their sites by guest blogging or posting to forums. But the first is difficult as popular blogs are innundated with requests for guest posts, and the second feels spammy. I encourage bloggers to use AskAny.com to promote themselves. If you have a parenting blog, then create a page “I am a parenting expert” at AskAny.com and include a link to your blog. I’ve even provided a space for a website link and Twitter handle at the top of every page.
Every page at AskAny.com has a unique URL. So http://askany.com/creator/ is one of my pages. No one else can have the page URL “creator.” So if a name is important to you, then you’ll want to create that page now. And use it, of course, as inactive pages will be recycled.
Another thing about your pages is that you have much more control than you do with discussion forum sites. If someone asks you an innapropriate question, you can simply delete it.
I want pages to live long lives, or even forever. So instead of answering questions for an hour or a day, the idea is you can answer a question here and there for days, weeks or even years.
There is also a voting system. So pages, questions, answers and comments can be “liked.” Pages with a lot of activity will appear on the front page of the site.
Feel free to give AskAny.com a try right now. The site is still in beta, but I’ve left it open to the public to allow my friends to use it during development. Use the contact link at the bottom of the site to let me know what you think.