Steam is changing all the time -- even if it feels like it's improving in Valve Time, not regular people time. That means key features can, occasionally, slip through the cracks. Here are a couple recent additions with big potential.
First up, the feature with the biggest long-term implications. There is now a "follow" button in every Steam user's profile, separate from friending them outright. Granted, a follow option already existed in Steam to an extent, but it was mainly focused on Steam Workshop (read: mods) creators, Steam Greenlight submissions, and things like that.
For the time being the functionality of following appears to be the same as it's always been, but the fact that it's now placed so prominently leads me to believe it won't stay that way for long. My guess? If nothing else, we'll probably be able to get alerts if someone we follow starts streaming. That's only speculation, though. I've reached out to Valve for clarification and comment on their future plans.
The other not so in-your-face new addition? A tab for "funny" reviews of every game, with a corresponding option to say a review made you giggle like an idiot (or a very learned hyena) instead of expressing positivity or negativity. Here it is on DOTA 2's store page:
This does not, however, really solve the issue of clutter in positive and negative Steam review sections, given that funny reviews continue to appear in those as well. Still, if you want a quick laugh (or a slowly constricting cringe, depending on how deep into the list you dig), now you know where to go.
It will be interesting to see this stuff evolve more in the future. For now, though, the sense I'm getting is that Valve has realised Steam users can provide more than just utility for other users. They can also be entertaining -- whether by broadcasting or by writing silly reviews. That element of the Steam community has always been there to an extent, but the big change here is that Valve's finally embracing it. These specific additions feel more like groundwork than they do a finished wing on the Steam mega-mansion, so I suppose we'll just have to wait and see where Valve takes them next.