Reddit hopes new social features will keep the trolls in line

This looks familiar.


Reddit knows its old-school message board style can be a little intimidating for new users, and its individual user pages have never really expanded beyond a list of submitted comments and some badges -- which can make it intimidating for casual redditors to keep up with real people on the service. After all, how many times has some celebrity dropped in for an AMA, only to never been seen again on the site? That will change starting today, when Reddit starts testing a new format that makes profile pages their own destination and brings the site more in line with social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

According to a post on r/modnews yesterday, "a very small number of redditors" will now be able to post directly to their own profile, rather than the old system where users could only post to communities. The new profile pages will also be redesigned to "better showcase the redditor's avatar, a short description and their posts." Fans will also be able to follow those testers' profiles as if they were a subreddit, so the beta tester's updates will show up in that follower's front page when they sign in to Reddit. (In the past, users with big a fanbase had to resort to creating their own subreddits that others could follow.) Followers will be able to comment on profile posts, but they can't start a new post on someone else's profile.

The whole experience looks strikingly like a Twitter profile page -- complete with banner photo at the top -- and users like u/LeagueOfLegends, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and u/Shitty_Watercolour are all part of the Beta test and hosting AMAs today if you want to get a sense of the look and feel. Reddit says the profile pages are still a work in progress but anyone can nominate themselves or a buddy's profile for inclusion in the beta test. Reddit's own FAQs on the beta program note that users with a history of abuse may not get the new features at all, in order to prevent it from becoming "a vehicle for harassment or hate." That said, "if all goes well," writes moderator u/hidehidehidden, the features are expected to roll out to everyone "over the course of the next few months."