The Dislike dilemma

Recently YouTube made a controversial decision, that will disable the public view of dislike count which may look like this:
- How it may look like after initial rollout -

At which you think it may be not that bad as their initial focus is to stop harassment and promote more inclusive space to work and create on (based on this blog post). The most interesting part is that we can not judge this decision fully as it is based purely on anecdotal evidence that they [YouTube Team] provide like in this excerpt:

As part of this experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior1. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior — and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.

1 Analysis conducted July 2021

Great, an internal analysis in which the data is not available to the public, but we promise guys we've "talked" to the creators all around the world to come to this conclusion!

I'm myself a small creator, and I think it's actually a bad idea (but respect goes out to my fellow creators who are actually getting harassed based on unjustified, or otherwise dubious basis). When I was younger (around 14 or 13) I've created a misleading type of content (I wanted to talk about it in detail but is not as important as the subject of the talk) that was actually perceived very negatively. In that video, let's just say that comments made a bigger impression on me than dislikes did.

To be honest the mass disliking is the least that viewers can do to hurt or "break" the creators spirit since it's only a visual representation of the feedback, on the contrary I think it's more "helpful" other than the comments that may or may not actually include proper constructive criticism. Maybe change back to the five star rating system? It's still being used for reviews on most of their services I don't think it could be that different if it was implemented for YouTube videos. Content creators may actually get more useful information on how their content is perceived since it presents easily readable scale that they can work off.

Mass disliking may look on paper as something that is very damaging and destructive, but I think it's on the contrary, it's something that people just scoff at and move on to produce lower quality content.

Another point I would like to bring is for the comment from this video:

Update to YouTube's dislike count

Now, a few common questions we saw from the initial experiment. First, without a public dislike count how can viewers tell if a video is worth watching? Again, I kind of had this question too but it turns out that while viewers might use the dislike count to give them a sense of a video's worth when the teams looked at the data across millions of viewer sand videos in the experiment they didn't see a noticeable difference in viewership regardless of whether they could see the dislike count or not. In other words, it didn't really matter if a video had a lot of dislikes or not they still watched.

It's not like people can dislike the content in the heat of the moment based on multiple factors but still objectively judge the content by itself and just later watching it until the end, dislikes actually do not show anything more than a warning that people who view the video should be weary of the content of the video, and, after watching the whole video to seek out the comment section or other sources for more informative decision and more critical perspective instead of blindly just watching and taking the content as it is.
There's a huge potential for people to just disable the comment section outright and just leave out the like count for the public to see how "well" perceived it is.

I dislike (pun intended) the way YouTube does not communicate with it's own users, as the dislike button is a tool not just for the content creators, but for everyone who consumes content on YouTube.
- A YouTube short -

Now let's talk about the new feature they've added a while back called "Shorts".

As you can see in the image I've provided, the main thing you'll see first is the amount of likes. Second we see is the amount of comments, but since the comment section in shorts are hidden away (unlike on desktop), there's just no initiative to press it to see if the video is legit or not (comments actually focus on how "helpful" this advice is).

A few notable examples:
  • How to make your PC run 10 times faster - This one is actually fine, change the title to "How to get rid of annoying popups when you start Windows" would be actually appropriate since it just disables the messages on "Setup your Microsoft account" or new features when you update Windows 10, still a good tutorial but in no way it makes "Your PC run 10 times faster"!
  • Protect Your PC With This - This video is a actually pretty misleading, since using "Restore Point" integrated into Windows is actually a bit useless when it comes to protection against Malware (since every service locally can be easily bypassed if you give admin privileges to the malware) and it's always best to have a proper backup solution (on another computer, cloud drives or just an USB drive that you know you won't use on compromised computers) with a good antimalware software in terms of actually "protecting" your Windows machine, otherwise it's mostly useful if you unintentionally delete files on your computer.
Sadly as much I would like for this change NOT to be implemented (remember when Google+ was heavily integrated into YouTube), it's still up to the Google and the YouTube team since they own the platform and, to be honest, they have the right to do it since they are the owners of the platform.

One word: corporate" - My Friend"

At least Linus Sebastian will talk about it with YouTube's product manager who was working on this change, in which the perspective of a "viewer" will be more explored. But only the time will tell if they will continue with rolling out this change or if they will go back on their idea with this change.

November 25. 2021 - Looks like they've changed the thumbnail, make of it what you will, but please refrain from harassing Matt. He's not behind this change and is just a public speaking figure for YouTube as a corporation.

Old Thumbnail

New Thumbnail

December 15. 2021 - The update is out for every platform (Mobile and Browser) and now may be impossible to return manually (except for maybe this browser addon), looks like they've changed the API so it won't include the dislike field (explains why I was able to still see the dislike bar until the start of December in my main browser where I use YouTube). 

December 19. 2021 - Looks like Jawed Karim send us a little massage trough description of his original video that he uploaded to YouTube called "Me at the zoo", which now says this:

Watching Matt Koval's announcement about the removal of dislikes, I thought something was off.
The spoken words did not match the eyes. The video reminded me of an interview Admiral Jeremiah Denton gave in 1966. I have never seen a less enthusiastic, more reluctant announcement of something that is supposed to be great.

Calling the removal of dislikes a good thing for creators cannot be done without conflict by someone holding the title of "YouTube's Creator Liaison". We know this because there exists not a single YouTube Creator who thinks removing dislikes is a good idea -- for YouTube or for Creators.

Why would YouTube make this universally disliked change? There is a reason, but it's not a good one, and not one that will be publicly disclosed. Instead, there will be references to various studies. Studies that apparently contradict the common sense of every YouTuber.

The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential feature of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It can't be. In fact, most of it is not good. And that's OK. The idea was never that all content is good. The idea WAS, however, that among the flood of content, there are great creations waiting to be exposed. And for that to happen, the stuff that's not great has to fall by the side as quickly as possible.

The process works, and there's a name for it: the wisdom of the crowds. The process breaks when the platform interferes with it. Then, the platform invariably declines. Does YouTube want to become a place where everything is mediocre? Because nothing can be great if nothing is bad. In business, there's only one thing more important than "Make it better". And that's "Don't fuck it up".
Jawed Karim, December 2021 -

Watching his video description history trough web archive, looks like he has a very interesting way of talking to the people trough the description.


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