Put your thumbs down: YouTube may disable downvotes to curb mob spamming

YouTube’s development team is considering methods for disabling the downvote button to help eliminate mob spamming on the platform, according to a report from The Verge. The practice, which often targets specific content creators and leaves their videos with the likelihood of not being recommended, was recently addressed by Tom Leung, YouTube’s director of content management.

Though Leung mentions that most methods of disabling downvotes are being “lightly discussed,” there are currently three options which are being considered. The most extreme is to disable downvotes entirely, which Leung believes is not the most democratic option. “That one seems like a very extreme option … because not all dislikes are dislike mobs, they’re just people expressing their opinion on a video,” said Leung.

A second method is improving on the current option already available on YouTube, which allows content creators to go into video preferences and disable visibility for ratings. This method often omits the ability to see how positively a video has been received, which Leung says his team is aware of and would like to address. “One option is to have that off by default, so viewers can still like or dislike, but we won’t show the count,”he said.

The final option would be to require users to give a reason for downvoting the video entirely. “We would say, ‘hey maybe if you’re going to give a downvote, maybe you fill out or click a checkbox as to why you don’t like this video.’ That would actually give the creator more information. On the other hand, that is complicated to build and collect,” said Leung.

Suppressing the dislike count, but showing the like count is also being considered, but that “tilt’s the scales” according to Leung. None of these options are final, and Leung recommends for content creators to comment on his video and provide their own suggestions.

Other topics covered in Leung’s video include non-skippable ads and new features in YouTube’s Studio Beta. Any improvements would be appreciated, as in recent times there has been a big uptick in mob spamming on YouTube. As an example, YouTube’s most recent Rewind video from 2018 set a record for the most disliked video ever, with some opting to cast downvotes on the video to earn it that title.

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