After improving how conversations look on the home timeline in 2013, Twitter is bumping up the organization of conversations on individual tweet pages. Starting today on Twitter.com, users will see a broad line on the left-hand side of tweets connecting conversations. A single tweet may feature one conversation or multiple discussions with each grouped separately, such as on this tweet kicking off a Tony Hawk Q & A in 2014.
Grouped conversations on tweet pages is a key improvement, making it easier to follow an extended talk between two or more parties.
Twitter says the conversation filtering will be smart enough to “highlight some of the most interesting exchanges” based on a particular tweet. To decide what should be highlighted Twitter takes into account a variety of factors, including whether the owner of the original tweet replies.
Similar to what you see on the home timeline, the conversation feature initially shows you two or three responses. To dive further into the conversation you have to click Show more. To see the whole mess of responses, click view more replies.
The new conversations feature is web-only for now, with plans to roll it out to Twitter’s mobile apps in the future.
The story behind the story: For years, Twitter users have been experimenting with tweet-based discussions, including one-on-one talks and public Q&As. But these conversations often had mixed results, because there’s simply too much noise on Twitter. If it does a good job of filtering out superfluous responses, the new conversations feature on individual tweet pages should make Twitter more viable as a discussion platform. That’s especially important as Reddit’s AMA (ask me anything) format grows in popularity and Tumblr introduces its Answer Time platform. Unlike Reddit and Tumblr, however, Twitter is built for real-time talks. The new conversations platform should make it easier to follow those live conversations, as well as offer a better format for archival reading.