The architecture of information:
Mitchell Clark, reporting for The Verge:
YouTube has announced that it’ll be hiding public dislike counts on videos across its site, starting today. The company says the change is to keep smaller creators from being targeted by dislike attacks or harassment, and to promote “respectful interactions between viewers and creators.” The dislike button will still be there, but it’ll be for private feedback, rather than public shaming.
YouTube says that when it tested hiding dislike numbers, people were less likely to use the button to attack the creator — commenting “I just came here to dislike” was seemingly less satisfying when you don’t actually get to see the number go up. That behavior may still continue to some extent, though, as creators will be able to see the dislike numbers for their own video in YouTube Studio. The company says this still lets well-meaning viewers leave private feedback to content creators or use dislikes to tune the algorithm’s video recommendations.
I like this approach. It removes an important incentive for trolling while preserving the ability to provide feedback to creators and hone the system’s recommendations. It’s worth noting that YouTube videos will continue showing “like” counts. The asymmetry may be a bit unsettling, but I think this is the right decision. “Like” counts are an important measure of popularity and don’t encourage negative behaviors.
This could be a good exercise for the feedback module in my CCA systems course: redesign feedback affordances on this information object to reduce harassment without sacrificing the positive effects of publicly visible feedback — or something along those lines. It doesn’t need to be a significant change: minor tweaks can make a big difference. As Mies van der Rohe said, “God is in the details.”