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I sometimes like to share my answers to people who follow me on Twitter and more then once I got the question "hey how do you do that?" and I thought that's obvious right go to your answer and click on the "tweet this" button. But then I noticed that the share buttons aren't always available and I know I saw it before so where is it. So I asked this question When is the "tweet this" button visible? on meta.

It gave me the answer but wasn't really satisfied because I believe the current implementation confuses people and is the main reason why I got questions like earlier noted.

I know from other questions like Please ditch all of the share icons - they give me nightmares that there are people who hate this share buttons and I can empathize with them so why not leave it to the user.

So the discussion I would like to start is to leave it to the user and ditch the apparently confusing implementation.

UPDATE: With leave it to the user I mean that the user can enable or disable the share buttons in his account settings.

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What do you mean by "leave it to the user"? What specific changes are you proposing? –  Anna Lear Dec 14 '11 at 16:41
    
give them the option to show/hide these buttons when they view the site. –  bigblind Dec 14 '11 at 16:46
    
updated the question - You could implement it in a variety of ways (per session or always) –  Martijn B Dec 14 '11 at 16:49

2 Answers 2

I agree that the share buttons on answers are a bit confusing. I occassionally wondered about it myself.

However, I don't think anything needs to be done about it. I found out how they worked fairly quickly by searching here on meta. I think if someone gets curious enough, they will likely do the same.

The buttons to share questions are always visible. so you could use those if you'd like to bring traffic to a question you've answered =)

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For simple functionality like share buttons I don't want to search how they work and behave, I expect nothing but simple logic here. Finding out on meta how buttons behave is proof to me that its not intuitive. The proposal also solves the problem for people who don't want them at all. By making it simpler everybody wins! –  Martijn B Dec 14 '11 at 19:48

I agree. removing the rules will

  • be less confusing to new users, who havn't red every single meta question about how this works.
  • decrease the load time, it seams there are a lot of things on these sites the are shown/hidden based on several rules, which could be simplified, this seems to be one of them.
  • increase the chances of someone tweeting a question/answer and increase the number of views. This is not very important for SO, as it already gets a lot of traffic, but for sites that just launched, it can be a boost.

In response to people saying that you can just search on meta, I repete: the most important statement to think about in UI and UX design is "don't make me think". Requiring the user to scout through meta questions to find out exactly which rules a buttton's appearance depends on, is like google saying "just search the web for it, it must be around here somewhere" when users look at a question in their help center, it's just not helpful.

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+1 for “don't make me think”. –  Donal Fellows Feb 13 '12 at 1:34

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