Today in "keeping social media a shiny happy place" news, YouTube is reportedly considering disabling the "dislike" button to address what the company is calling "dislike mobs". A Verge article says that "dislike mobs" are groups of people who become upset with a certain creator or a certain video and decide to execute an organized effort to downvote or negatively review it. It’s an issue that YouTube has seen before and one that content creators have spoken out about.
Videos with a high number of dislikes are less likely to be recommended for people to watch and could eventually hurt the creator's channel. Lest we forget, the whole point of having a dislike button to begin with is to be able to voice your displeasure with content that creators are putting out.
But in the day and age of participation trophies and millennial safe zones, even the little thumbs down button on YouTube is apparently becoming too offensive. While the company says these ideas are still just "lightly being discussed" they are offering creators the preference to indicate that they don’t want ratings on their videos, similar to the way comments can be disabled.
The director of project management at YouTube stated in a recent video to creators: “Another [option] is requiring more granularity when someone downvotes. If you’re going to give a downvote, maybe you have to click a checkbox as to why you don’t like this video. That could give the creator more information, and it would also give viewers pause instead of just doing it impulsively. On the other hand, that’s complicated to build, complicated to collect, and then to relay the results to the creator in analytics or Creator Studio.”
Even the company admits that removing the button "isn't democratic" because not all dislikes are from organized groups of people. Tom Leung, director of project management at YouTube, feels like it is a difficult line to walk and is considering what platflorms like Valve's Steam have recently done: implemented a histogram underneath its review scores to try and show potential buyers when reviews could be artificial.
The UI designer for Steam recently wrote a blog post about why histograms makes sense.
"As a potential purchaser, it’s easy to spot temporary distortions in the reviews, to investigate why that distortion occurred, and decide for yourself whether it’s something you care about,” he says.
“This approach has the advantage of never preventing anyone from submitting a review, but does require slightly more effort on the part of potential purchasers. It also has the benefit of allowing you to see how a game’s reviews have evolved over time, which is great for games that are operating as services.”
Other creators insisted that YouTube implement a feature that makes you have to watch a significant portion of a video before a dislike option becomes available.
Leung addressed the issue further in this video to content creators: