Twitter wants to fix its messy commenting system with ‘Conversation Trees’

Twitter are making good on their promises to introduce upgrades and new functions to the platform. One of the first changes is to redesign the awkward commenting interface – so what’s next?
New Twitter logo for their beta testing app Twttr
Twttr is a new beta testing version of Twitter. Image: Twitter

To Tweet or to Twtt?

Twitter has been around since 2006, and has about 321 million active monthly users. Now it time for a revamp!

The platform has put it to their users to help test and develop better functionality throughout the app. Users can apply to be part of the beta testing platform, Twttr. It sounds like they have been overwhelmed with applicants though, so don’t hold your breath.

I really like their style; all too often social media users are in uproar about sudden changes which they don’t like. New functions are launched without any live testing, and then are inevitably taken down when they don’t work properly.

Twitter reports that 85% of people using the hide reply button aren’t also using block or mute, so although this is a useful tool to reduce malicious replies it is being used more to avoid going off on a tangent.

One of the biggest problems with Twitter has been a lack of ability to edit a post. With high profile celebrities like Kevin Hart being heavily criticised for Twitter gaffs, this is about being able to have a conversation ‘to show the learning and transition since’.

Having your own users suggest and test new functions sounds like a winning idea to me! And there is always a get out clause; don’t like it? Well, you suggested it!

Not that I think that is really the idea here.

Twitter app on a mobile phone with pop up message that some comments have been hidden
Twitter are giving users more control over what comments can be viewed. Image: Twitter

Leading the conversation

One of the first changes being tested is a new ‘conversation tree’. Twitter comments are currently quite messy, disorganised and hard to follow. The idea is to create message threads similar to those on Reddit, which are better laid out and simpler to view.

Twitter says, ‘We want it to be easier to read, understand, and join conversations — and we’d love to know what you think.’

Check out the layout below:

Twitter – the next generation

This is not the only change Twitter are introducing. They announced last week a new function to hide tweets from their comments thread. They aren’t deleted, just removed from easy view.

Users will also be prompted to see if they wish to report a tweet, or a reply. The idea behind this is to ‘give you more control over the conversations you start’.

The tool has, so far, been used to ‘shut out noise’ and keep threads on the original subject. Twitter reports that 85% of people using the hide reply button aren’t also using block or mute, so although this is a useful tool to reduce malicious replies it is being used more to avoid going off on a tangent.

Twitter has also resolved to ban all political advertising from the platform. Ads which make their way through will be deleted. This contrasts with Facebook and Snapchat, who will not ban political advertising, but have promised to fact check information.

Another new function is ‘topics‘, where users can choose to follow specific subjects. This filters down what appears on your feed to those things you are most interested in.

I like the idea of Twttr – it feels positive to have real users testing out new functions and seeing how they work. It does not often seem like the customer is king when it comes to social media. But maybe, with Twitter, they are.

What do you think Will the new interface make Twitter easier and better to use? What other changes do you think the platform should make? Let us know in the comments!

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