Why it matters: YouTube doesn’t want people to abuse its dislike button, and the streaming site is looking at ways to deal with the problem. Project management director Tom Leung said in a video that several options are being discussed, including the removal of the ‘thumbs down’ button.
In the world of YouTube, “dislike mobs” are akin to review bombing a game on Steam. It involves many people downvoting a video, often for reasons not related to its content. YouTube itself became a target when its Rewind 2018, an annual video montage featuring trends and memes from the past year, became the most disliked video ever in December. Some believe the lack of YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Shawn Dawson and Logan Paul contributed to the negative response.
One of the worst effects dislike mobs can have is reducing the number of recommendations a video receives, thereby limiting its views and damaging the creator’s channel.
To address the issue, YouTube has been “lightly” discussing several options. These include turning off rating counts by default, though this would mean viewers won’t know if a video has plenty of positive responses. Users could also be asked to click checkboxes stating why they disliked a video, something Leung says would be complicated to build.
A better-sounding plan, which comes from YouTube creators, is only to allow someone to vote on a video once they’ve watched a portion of it, either 25 or 50 percent.
Completely removing the thumbs down button is the most extreme option, but Leung said doing so wouldn't be “democratic” as “not all dislikes are from dislike mobs.” It would undoubtedly be the least-welcome choice among viewers, too.
While none of these solutions might end up being used, it appears that Google is serious about taking on the dislike mobs, and it sounds like it’ll implement a solution more effective than Steam’s histograms.