Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, has finally lifted the cloche off his latest project, Jelly. The new product, which had some of its details leaked last year, has a stylised jellyfish as a mascot on its icon, mashes together various bits of the web to offer a single outlet to let users ask one another questions.
Wondering if a book is worth reading? Need help identifying a flower you found in the garden? Struggling with a choice of outfit for an event? Simply post it on Jelly, with a photo of the item in question, and get an answer from the social web. This is not too dissimilar to existing services such as Quora, Ask.fm, Yahoo Answer, or even Twitter.
Stone hopes that, unlike most of those services, Jelly will help you get answers by people passing on and sharing your questions. Indeed, questions can be forwarded from within the app. If somebody has a medical question and it shows up in your feed, you can forward it to a doctor and get quick advice to help that person get an answer.
Questions show up in the app’s main view, and they’re collected from your social contacts as well as Jelly’s feed for popular questions. The app lets users flip through questions with ease. Swipe down and a question gets dismissed. Star it to view answers as they get added. Reply to add your own advice, or simply view the answers submitted by others.
Given the relative newness of the application, the current crop of popular questions are all mundane queries from first-time users. People posting photos of empty offices asking where their coworkers have gone. An image of a Pringles tin asking whether it’s possible to eat just one (A: No. Once you, pop you can’t stop.) The Jelly equivalent of “I’m just checking out this Twitter thing,” while trying to fit in with the premise of the app.
The answer dialogue is also geared towards being useful and using the power of the social web to moderate itself. Good answers can be tagged as such, and shared with others. They can also be reported or disliked. When composing an answer there’s the option to have a mini browser window brought up to attach a citation link. Jelly also lets people highlight parts of the attached photo using a finger drawing tool.
It might seem superfluous and too advanced or nuanced, but in practice Jelly is a riot. It actually turns the art of posing and answering questions into a little game. Flip through the ones you don’t like or can’t help with, and share useful information when you come across something you can. Plus, you’re far likelier to get an answer on Jelly than you are on a very crowded Twitter feed.