YouTube's dislike button can be a source of anxiety for many creators, and now YouTube is considering a number of options to prevent viewers from abusing that tool. Tom Leung, director of project management at YouTube, posted an update to the Creator Insider channel recently in which he detailed some "lightly discussed" options for combatting "dislike mobs," or large groups of users who slam the dislike button on a video before watching the whole thing, or even watching the video at all.
While none of the options Leung details may ever become permanent, YouTube is thinking about experimentation. Currently, like and dislike ratings are shown by default—that's why anyone can see the number of likes and dislikes a video has by checking out the numbers next to the thumbs-up and thumbs-down icons beneath the video player. However, users can change their settings to make ratings invisible.
One of the new options YouTube has talked about is making those ratings invisible by default, so you wouldn't be able to see the number of likes or dislikes a video has. Other options include asking users to provide more information about why they disliked a video (possibly in the form of a checklist), removing the dislike count across the board, and removing the dislike button entirely.
Leung acknowledges that all of these options have pros and cons, and YouTube may not implement any of them after testing. Particularly, he notes that removing the dislike button from YouTube isn't the most democratic option, and it's quite extreme. Leung invites users to leave their own suggestions as to what YouTube should do in the comments of the update video.
While plenty of creators have fallen victim to dislike mobs, YouTube itself experienced a massive mob recently when its 2018 Rewind video became the most disliked video on the platform last year (as of today, it has 15 million dislikes). Millions of those dislikes may have been genuine, but it's possible that millions of other dislikes came from users hopping on the negativity bandwagon.
Numerous dislikes can prevent the video from showing up in recommended lists and limit viewership overall. Creators big and small on YouTube can be affected by dislike mobs, particularly if a video includes divisive content or if the creators themselves is a controversial figure. But like most issues that YouTube tries to tackle and perfect, it will be difficult for the company to find a solution that actually fixes the problem and also doesn't frustrate some creators and users.