Open Startup: Introducing Askablogr

Earlier this week I promised to introduce the prototype of a new product I’ve been working on. This is the first in an ongoing series of posts on the startup process, with a goal of opening up the experience for you to read, comment on and even participate in (more on that part later).

But first, let me introduce the product itself: Askablogr, a free service that helps bloggers engage their readers in conversation. If you have a blog of your own (limited to Blogger and TypePad for now, sorry) , the best way to see how it works is to sign up and install the widget on your blog, but for the rest of you, here’s a quick rundown:

Elevator Pitch: MyBlogLog meets Yahoo Answers

Problem: Conversations between bloggers and their readers are some of the best content on the Web, but they’re typically buried in comment threads, making them hard to find and harder to follow.

Solution: Askablogr invites blog readers into conversation within the blog posts themselves, facilitating Q&A exchanges between readers and bloggers and automagically turning them into inline posts.

Blogger Benefits:

  • Inline Reader Q&A – Draw your loyal readers into conversation, pull all the great conversations you have with them out of the comment field and turn them into posts in their own right
  • Broader Exposure – Your Q&A exchanges are also posted to Askablogr with links back to you. The more Q&A you publish, the more prominently your blog and content will be featured on Askablogr, and the more visible it (and you) will be on the Web.
  • Spam-resistant – Q&A exchanges are handled via Askablogr’s site. You never need to disclose your email address, and can block any questioner from contacting you again.

Reader Benefits:

  • Engage Your Favorite Bloggers in Conversation – Use Askablogr to ask your question and get your ideas into the mix up in the posts, not buried in comments.
  • Build Your Own Online Identity – All your Askablogr Q&A exchanges are collected on your Askablogr profile page, and each question that receives an answer includes a link from that post back to your Askablogr profile so readers can find you and your ideas.
  • See Who Else Reads Your Favorite Blogs – The Askablogr blog widget features the most recent questioners on each blog, making it easy to discover who your fellow readers are and see what’s on their minds.

Public Benefits

  • Tune In to the Conversation – Use Askablogr to discover what’s happening in the blogosphere. Who’s asking questions, who’s answering them and what are they talking about right now?

Now, back to the Open Startup process. Keeping in mind that the current version of the site is just a prototype, what’s your reaction to the product and the problem it aims to solve? Is this a product you would use on your own blog? If not, why not? Would you use Askablogr to ask a question of your favorite bloggers. If not, why not? (If you have thoughts on any of the questions above, find something broken or have other ideas on how we can improve the product, just fire away).