What’s Not to Like About Twitter’s New Retweet Feature?

    December 3, 2009
    Chris Crum

Twitter is of course in the process of rolling out a new retweet feature. The feature adds a retweet button to each tweet on your timeline, much like the "reply" button that has always been there. However, one distinct difference between these two buttons is that where the reply button fills out your form with the proper information ("@username"), the retweet button sends the initial tweet to your followers’ timelines without giving you your own tweet.

Do you prefer the old way of retweeting or the new way? Share your thoughts here.

In other words, you don’t get to add anything to it, you’re just duplicating a tweet that came to you and sending it to your followers. You’re forwarding it.

New Retweet feature

Evan WilliamsThere are things to like about the feature.
For one it’s more convenient if you just want to pass on an interesting tweet. If you’re the one being retweeted, it puts you in the spotlight in other people’s streams rather than the person who retweeted you. It kind of feels like you’re getting more credit for your tweets, although if you are just tweeting a link to someone else’s blog post that might not necessarily come off as a positive. Twitter CEO Evan Williams put up an interesting blog post last week defending the feature before it even had much of a chance to get torn apart by users. He knew it would be controversial, and he even acknowledged that fact.

As happens when any heavily-used site makes changes, some people get upset about it. Lisa Barone at outSpoken Media made a list of "things that suck" about the new retweet feature, and she brings up a number of good points, but her biggest peeve seems to be that of the avatars of people she doesn’t know showing up in her stream.

Lisa Barone "Showing the unfamiliar avatar does not give me ‘more context’ for the tweet. It gives me less because I don’t know this individual," she says. "If I were to see Rae’s avatar, I’d know to trust the content. I’d know it already passed the snuff test. When I see someone else’s avatar, I’m thrown off and confused. Will I get used to it? No, I’ll simply learn to ignore things from people I don’t know."

She has a valid point in that seeing unfamiliar faces can be a bit off-putting, but aren’t the retweets still passing the "snuff test" since they are still being retweeted by people you follow? It’s not like these "strangers" are actually coming in and spamming us. It’s just a visually different way of presenting them. Whether or not we like that is one thing, but it’s a retweet from someone we’re following just as it was before in this regard. A great many Twitter users probably don’t even recognize half of the people they follow anyway.

That said, there are a number of other issues with the feature, as Barone points out. Some of the ones she touches on are:

– Can’t add own commentary (what if you don’t agree with what you’re retweeting?)

– Plays down user’s visibility in own network

– Changes the definition of retweeting (makes it more like a Facebook "like")

The feature is still in limited beta testing, so regardless of what you feel about the feature, there is a possibility it will change. Even still, if you don’t like the feature, you don’t have to use it. You can still use the classic "RT" method just as you have always done. You just have a new option now. Depending on how many of the people you follow use the new feature, your Twitter experience can be affected more or less by it.

Are you getting the new retweet feature yet? What is your opinion? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it. Tell WebProNews readers what you think about it.

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