Jelly: The Instagram for Asking Questions

Jelly, a new app backed by a clump of sparkly celebrities) including Jack Dorsey, Al Gore and even Bono) is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. Jelly, launched on January 7th of this year is a crowd-sourced service that has been bombarded with Twitter Followers, broken (mundane) news and earned the participation of the Facebook man himself, Mark Zuckerberg, who used it to determine if the spider found in his shower was deadly or not.

Image Image Courtesy: The Daily Mail

Jelly may not be a new concept but it is a pretty one backed my famous people. The app is meant to act as a mobile social network in which you a snap a photo of something and ask a related question. Then people from, or somewhat connected to, your social networks will provide you with an answer.

There is also some second functionality where users can recommend other answers, or forward questions via e-mail or social media, and askers can send people who answer their questions thank-you notes. But at its core, Jelly is basically just a platform for asking questions of the vast, Internet hive-mind.

Unlike Quora, the online question and answer service was supposed to be the next great way to get an answer about something, Jelly was created to be mobile-first, and much more interested in the wisdom of crowds. Users are restricted to leaving short answers and there isn’t any preamble about who a user is, or why they might be qualified to answer a question.

Put Simply, Jelly is the Instagram of Asking Questions

Given its photo-plus-question composition, Jelly is clearly positioned as a good place to identify mystery objects (a plant or graffiti mural you pass on the street, for example.) After a while, though, you will have started to see that much of Jelly’s potential lies in its ability to quickly gather a chorus of opinions on tons of topics-from the more stimulating like music and shopping to the more mundane like pet and plant care.  As users figure this out, expect the ratio of silly to earnest questions to improve, and Jelly’s ability to climb.

The app is decently designed and there are some thoughtful touches. If you think a non-Jelly-using friend would be a good person to answer a question, you can forward them a link to the question so they can see and answer it on the web. And if you are simply curious about the responses people will post to others’ questions, you can “star” a question and then flick it away; then you’ll be notified when others answer it.

Few of the prominent features lacking from Jelly include, no categorization system for questions, no way to search and no “back” button within the app. There also doesn’t seem to be an organized way to see only the questions you’ve asked or provided answers for; all your activity is shown in a long, chronological list that can be a pain to scroll through.

Image Image Courtesy: Mashable

Perhaps most importantly, Jelly needs to improve its ability to determine which questions you should see, so It can make it more likely that you’ll offer helpful answers and contribute your own questions. The app already uses an algorithm for this, but it could take some time before there’s a significant volume of data for it to learn from. In the meantime, don’t expect to stop seeing questions about football teams, iPhone app organizing, and almond butter anytime soon.

Despite its relative simplicity, Jelly has become a great took for receiving quick advice or answers from your social network whether you are shopping, wandering through a museum or planted on your couch. With some tweaks, Jelly could really stick.

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