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October 21, 2015

New Twitter polling feature could be a) awesome or b) horrible

The social media giant announced a new offering this week

Twitter, already the international social media world’s reactionary thunderdome, announced Wednesday that all of its users will soon be able to include polls in their posts.

The cyberballots will feature just two choices and remain active for a mere 24 hours when availability reaches iOS, Android and the Web in short order.

“If you want the public’s opinion on anything — what to name your dog, who will win tonight’s game, which election issue people care most about — there’s no better place to get answers than on Twitter,” read the evolving company’s Wednesday announcement about a feature that’s been tested in recent weeks.

Like photo galleries, polls have long provided a means through which websites can create buzzy attention via audience engagement, so the Favstar folks of the world will clearly love this move, Y/N?

The timing itself falls on “Back to the Future Day” – poll question: Are you the type of person whose attention gets diverted from the day’s issues because a calendar date coincides with one from a movie you’ve seen? – so let’s take a look at some of the initial reactions to Twitter’s announcement.

The lovers:

The haters:

The want other features-erers:

Looking toward a future of annoyance

Here’s the thing: Let's wait to see it in action before deciding whether it’s better than the old-fashioned “RT for this or Fav for that” mechanism through which Twitterers of old (pre-10/21/15) gauged audience reactions to two options.

It's easy for the initial inclination to be to call it an unnecessary move. But then, consider how the ability to vote – even in a city with pitifully low turnout numbers for a real polling option in a voting booth – might stave off some of the horrific responses for which Twitter has become known. 

Sure, that’ll take away from the traditional “retweeting people with horrible opinions,” but it will – ostensibly – give “pollsters” a mechanism by which they can avoid the landline woes plaguing traditional polling, albeit in a hive-mind bubble of people apt to see the tweets in the first place.

All of which is to say that Twitter's new polling feature will be good, bad, annoying and insightful. You know, kinda like Twitter in and of itself!

Oh, almost forgot: Had those questions in Twitter's announcement been presented as a poll, my answers would be:

a) We'll name our dog whatever our son wants to name it (which is how our beta fish came to be called Spidey)

b) Wanna say the Cubs will win Wednesday night's game, but the Mets seem like a team of destiny (so, the two-answer feature won't come much in handy), and

c) Is it really possible to whittle an electorate's focal issues to a choice between two? And, even if it was, wouldn't the results be a 50/50 split anyhow?

These are important questions that I'll take to my Twitter followers once the polling feature gets sent my way until, like Wired pointed out, everybody's feed gets overrun by two-answer queries.