Twitter will test the use of Reddit-like voice and voice buttons as a way to better highlight the more interesting and relevant answers in a longer conversation thread. The company announced this afternoon that they would begin what they call a “small research experiment” that will add vote-up and down-vote buttons for answers, or even replace the “Like” button completely. In some cases the up and down buttons can be up arrow and down arrow, while in other cases they can be thumbs up and thumbs down.
And in a group of testers, users can continue to see the “Like” button (the red heart), but will now find a vote button next to it. In this group, the vote will count as a “like”
Twitter clarified to TechCrunch that only a small number of testers will see these options appear in their Twitter iOS app, and users’ votes will not be public.
The company also said it does not currently use this voice information to rank the answers at this time. (However, if such a system ever becomes a public function, it can certainly be changed.)
The goal of the test is to help Twitter learn what kind of answers users find most relevant during their conversations, something that Twitter has been studying for some time. According to Twitter user researcher Cody Elam, previous studies determined that users thought answers that were informative, supportive, positive and funny were the “best” types of answers. However, some of the best answers will not appear quickly enough – an issue that Twitter hopes to address with a vote-by-vote feature.
Elam says that the feature will allow users to have their say on the quality of the answers without having to shame other users publicly. Over time, this data can help Twitter improve call ranking systems.
If Twitter responds to this information to actually rank the responses, it can make it easier and more fun to read longer Twitter threads – such as those that follow viral tweets. But it can also help to better present the answers that provide something informative or interesting or even just fun to a conversation, while pushing any trolling comments down the thread.
Today, Twitter allows users to manually hide the answers that detract from a conversation by placing them behind an extra click. Maybe, over time, it could do something similar for responses that got too many votes, as Reddit does. But none of these types of features are being tested right now, to be clear.
This is not the first time Twitter has shown interest in other types of engagement buttons beyond Like and Retweet. Earlier this year, for example, Twitter was discovered by users about their interest in a broader set of emoji-style reactions, similar to what you would find on Facebook. This feature has since been put into development, it seems.
The same survey had also asked users how they felt about upvote and downvote buttons, as well as emoji reactions.
Twitter says the test only rolls out to a small group on iOS only.