Formspring, one of the original social question and answer sites, has announced that it will be shutting down on March 31st. Launched in November 2009, Formspring let users post questions either anonymously or tagged with their accounts and then receive answer from other Formspring users or anonymous visitors. Users could also follow each other and post questions targeted to their followers. The service eventually expanded to offer mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
Formspring gained some notoriety back in 2010, when it became the focus of teenage bullies that would post insults and threats to other adolescents. Critics of the service pointed to the fact that the users could post these threats anonymously, thereby enabling them to be much more severe than if their profiles were identifiable. The offensive messages were even linked to a Long Island teenager's suicide in March 2010.
"It’s been challenging to sustain the resources needed to keep the lights on."
In a blog post announcing the closure, Formspring founder and CEO Ade Olonoh said that while the service was able to reach a broad audience, the costs required to maintain the site became too much for it to stay afloat. During its time, Formspring accrued 30 million active users and hosted four billion posts. Existing users will be able to export their content from their accounts through April 15th, after which the site will go fully offline and everything will be deleted.
Despite Formspring's imminent shutdown, there are still plenty of websites where users can ask questions and get answers from friends or strangers. Popular sites like Quora or even Yahoo Answers are still very active and likely will be for some time. And of course, there's always Twitter and Facebook, though your reach will be limited by how many friends or followers you currently have on those services.