My title is ridiculous, but my point is sincere. There is a reason why Facebook doesn’t have a dislike button, nor do video sites like Vimeo which promote a collaborative, respectful environment. The Dislike button is a flawed, terrible idea as far as rating creative content in public venues is concerned. Note that I’m not one of those popular YouTube stars with equal numbers of fans and haters, so my insight is limited to what I see every day. I’m just a guy that has observed the terrible quality of public discourse on social media sites and found that certain things, like the Dislike button, do more to hurt the situation than help it. Here’s why:
1. It promotes negativity in an already unstable environment
For all the awesome ways the internet brings people together and uplifts the human condition, it also has a tendency to bring out the very worst in people. If you have thick skin, this probably doesn’t bother you. Really, its just the way people work – give them a screen of anonymity and they’ll tell you any negative thought that pops into their head. Much of the time, these things wouldn’t be said in a real social situation.
Things like the dislike button give people an additional outlet to lash out with. Granted, a “thumbs down” is not as potentially hurtful as a string of curses or ethnic slurs, but why would you purposefully increase the possibility of negative interaction on a site like YouTube, where people post creative things that are sometimes very intimate and close to them.
2. Its incredibly ambiguous
When you dislike a video, what are you disliking? If you’re watching a video blog of someone explaining that their grandfather was just diagnosed with cancer, you might be tempted to dislike the video…but wait…should you perhaps “like” it to support the person? But if you press “Dislike” for that video, that doesn’t mean the same thing as if you see a music video of a band you don’t like and press the “Dislike” button. And yet, both are probably considered negative feedback. What are you supposed to be communicating when you publicly dislike something? If someone posts a video of them playing Flight of the Bumblebee on 10 different instruments with exceptional technique, but they’re wearing a Nazi military uniform in a basement full of swastika posters (I might actually be entertained with something that ridiculous), you can’t dislike some of it and not the other, so maybe you press “Dislike”. All anyone knows is that you apparently don’t like the content.
All in all, its just a contrived, oversimplified way to convey your opinion that doesn’t really have a definite meaning.
3. It undermines the spirit of discussion and constructive criticism
The internet is becoming increasingly about saying what you need to say in the shortest amount of words possible. Facebook and Twitter both have character limits for new posts, almost every system has an up or down rating, texting has replaced what would otherwise be phone calls or voicemails. These are all very convenient, and can be handy in many situations. However, they have become so utterly intrinsic in social media that you can’t really avoid them. Everything wants your knee-jerk reaction. Don’t think about it, just type it – GO – LIKE – DISLIKE – YES OR NO – WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW TELL ME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GO GO GO. I think that the “like” and “dislike” systems are the pinnacle of this idea. Just press one button and you’ve made your intellectual contribution. Sure you can post a comment if you want to, but that takes too much time and grammar is hard. So you can just dislike something and move along on your merry way, knowing that at some point that content’s creator will see your little red mark against him/her without having any clue what your thoughts might have been.
But…it helps me determine if a video or piece of content is genuine
Sure, it might. There are some videos on YouTube that have names like “Amazing HUMAN-DOG hybrid caught on tape!!!” And then the video is a cartoon of Luigi from the Mario Brothers repeating “Ima Leweeeeegee” 147 times. But that’s not what rating systems are for – that’s what flagging systems are for. If a video title is lying or the video has offensive content, users can flag the content as “offensive” or whatever other term they choose. YouTube can then take action against this video. Alternatively, take a quick glance at the comments and if all you see is “wow what a waste of time” then maybe you could think about avoiding it if it seems suspicious after a few seconds.
Damnit Jim, I’m a composer, not a person with any kind of influence on the decision making process at Google or YouTube
I know this post will go unheard, and that other people have said similar things in the past. But, that’s what the internet is good for, right? People blowing hot air at their monitors so one random person might accidentally stumble across their blog 2 years later.