YouTube and the Dislike Button

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I am quite new to YouTube. I prefer Vimeo as a platform as the video quality is better, and there are some features that Vimeo offers that I really like as a filmmaker. In order to get with the times though, I’ve tried to embrace YouTube. I know it’s where people go when they’re looking for videos online, and almost everyone has a Google account so it’s easy for viewers to interact with videos there too.

There’s one feature of YouTube that I really don’t like though, and it’s the dislike button. It’s a feature that I just don’t see the point in. I acknowledge that I am quite sensitive, but I try to have a thick skin about the work I share online. Not everything I share is going to be loved by everyone who sees it, and that’s fine. The dislike button though, lacks nuance. When someone clicks ‘dislike’ it’s not certain whether they dislike the subject matter of the video, the music, the editing, the colour grading, the length, or any other aspect of the production. It’s not constructive feedback, and I strongly believe that negativity should be specific, measured and constructive, because otherwise what’s the point? I also don’t like that the dislike button is anonymous, because it brings out the worst in people and allows those who get a kick out of it to troll away to their heart’s content.

By all means have a ‘show me fewer videos like this’ button for viewers to click so that they can curate their own stream of suggestions on YouTube, but I don’t think that feature needs to take the shape of a thumbs down, dislike button, or that the data needs to be conveyed to the video creator or the audience. There are other, more meaningful ways to let a creator know that their video hasn’t been well received – by leaving constructive criticism in a comment if it’s appropriate to do so, or by simply clicking away from the video and finding something else to watch so that their viewing figures remain low.

My guess is that the vast majority of people who click the dislike button are just trolling, but it’s still an unpleasant side of YouTube that I wish didn’t exist. The trouble is that Google has a monopoly on video, so it’s very hard to simply walk away.

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