Why YouTube Removed the Dislike Counter from Videos
There has been a fairly big change to one of the most popular and original user created content sites out there: YouTube has removed dislikes. Technically viewers can still dislike videos, but the count has been recently removed which ultimately eliminates the point of disliking a video. It seems like everyone is against this, but let’s dive in to see why YouTube made this change and who it affects.
It appears this change was pretty polarizing between some users growing up watching YouTube videos and some that say it was fundamentally a very unique feature on a content site to dislike videos. Either way, a lot of people disagreed with this, including one of the co-founders of YouTube who is predicting this change will be the downfall of the site itself. If so many users disagree with the change, then why was the dislike counter removed?
Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer at YouTube, went into some detail on the Lew Later Podcast (highly recommend for all tech junkies out there) of why this change was made. It came down to cultivating a more inclusive environment as dislikes inherently are a negative action for a user to take. Further, YouTube wanted to eliminate the “mob mentality” when it came to swarming dislikes on particular videos on its site. I have seen this firsthand as a user and could not agree more that this is a problem that ultimately leaves the video, and subsequently the creator, demolished.
While there is some logic behind Neal’s argument behind why this feature was removed, it stills does not address the disagreement from the YouTube community. This is a problem because clearly the users are feeling as though they are going to be receiving a worse user experience. Their justification is that dislike counts were any easy way to determine if a video was of quality or had useful content. This is completely valid and I agree as a user, but it does not take into consideration the content creator themself.
The creator side of the decision was something that was heavily considered when making this change to the UI of the site. Neal went into detail on how new and established creators are affected differently by dislikes on YouTube. For large creators that have millions of subscribers and functionally operate as businesses, dislike counts are not an issue. For example, Mark Rober has 21M subs on YouTube and is obviously very successful. If he produces a bad or just not as good video, he might receive more dislikes than normal but it will not mean much in the grand scheme of things as his channel will still be thriving.
On the flip side, if a brand-new creator who is trying to make a name for themself posts a poor video and receives a drastic amount of dislikes, that could be the end of the channel. The creator either will be ostracized from viewers recommended pages or they will just outright not want to make any more videos due to the possibility of this happening again. YouTube is trying to stop this from happening.
Although most of us consume content created by some of the largest creators on YouTube, there is still an ecosystem of new and upcoming creators. Therefore, the product team at YouTube wanted to make a change that would make their platform more inclusive for all its creators.
The internet can be a scary place, especially on YouTube where the comments and dislikes often come from the worst of the internet community. So, while I think viewers might take a small hit from a user experience perspective, removing dislike counts is a material change that might help bring new creators to the site.