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github reactionAn emoji might not be worth a thousand words, but it can do a better job than words at getting some messages across. GitHub, the popular code repository hosting service, is harnessing the power of emoji with a new reactions feature, the company announced today.

The new reactions let users cut back on commenting and use simple emoji to respond to pull requests, issues and comments.

“While people have been able to include emoji in responses for a long time, using them as reactions resulted in a lot of noise,” GitHub engineer Jake Boxer wrote in a blog post announcing reactions. “In many cases, especially on popular projects, the result is a long thread full of emoji and not much content, which makes it difficult to have a discussion. With reactions, you can now reduce the noise in these threads.”

The move comes less than a month after Facebook added a host of animated reactions to the standard Like button. GitHub’s reactions, however, are a little more direct. It has a thumbs down, the quizzical thinking face and the celebratory party popper in addition to thumbs up, a heart and a laughing face.

However, a GitHub pull request is very different from a status update; whereas Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted to avoid the possibility of bullying that a dislike button might bring, the thumbs down in GitHub could help users vote on a comment that has a yes or no question, while the thinking face could be a call for more explanation in an issue, all without adding a new comment.

Reactions are available today on all pull requests and issues on GitHub. And don’t worry, you can still leave a comment if your response can’t be expressed by emoji alone.

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