By its own admission Twitter experiments with at least one new feature each and every day, and while most of these are simply that – experiments – some do move out of the beta process and become system-wide.
Twitter’s latest venture is a tweak that many users have wanted for a long, long time: retweets with comments.
First spotted by Mashable, the change has been showing up for the usual small subset of users on the official iPhone and Android apps – now, when they go to retweet, instead of seeing the standard “Quote tweet” secondary option they’re seeing “Retweet with comment”.
Once actioned, here’s how the retweet with comment looks, courtesy of Twitter’s own Carolyn Penner.
What’s important here is that while a quote tweet gives you a very small space to add your own thoughts (because you’re limited by how many characters you’re quoting), retweet with comment effectively gives you 140 extra characters, making the tweet bigger. You have your own 140 characters to comment, add another link etc, as per a normal tweet, and then the retweet part is added on to the tweet separately, somewhat like a Twitter card. This essentially makes retweet with comment two times the size of a standard 140 character tweet.
Back in the old days of Twitter, all retweets were manual – users had to hand-type their retweet, along the lines of “RT @username message”. Twitter added its own retweet function back in October 2009 which, while generally disliked at first, eventually became the norm as new users joined the service.
With this new tweak Twitter has somewhat rolled back the clock, allowing users to straight-up retweet or add their own comment, which is the best of both worlds. And while it’s been unpopular with some of the testing folks (few welcome change, after all), personally I’d be amazed if this feature doesn’t get implemented soon.