Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Like or To Dislike: Is That The Question?

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A little over two years ago, I blogged about YouTube's decision to abandon their 5-star rating system and instead go for a Thumbs Up/Down approach. Yesterday, I blogged about Tom Raftery's keynote where he highlights IBM's use of binary recommendations in our blog engine. Then I stumbled on yet another article about Facebook prohibiting Dislike on their system from Mashable.

Mashable's Op-Ed highlights that developers were trying to use Facebook's new OpenGraph protocol to convert dislike into one of the possible options for users. However, trying to do that, gives this error to developers:

It seems most social networks today (Google +, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, IBM Connections, Instagram, etc) use a binary system: either you like something or you don't. Of the ones that I use frequently, I think only YouTube has kept a system where you can pick one of three choices: do nothing, give a thumbs up, or give a thumbs down.

The Op-Ed makes a case as to why Facebook prevents dislikes in their system: it could hurt the advertising business and could lead to cyber-bullying. To me, this makes total sense, and makes me think it wouldn't be appropriate to have this sort of negativity in an organizations' social platform.

A common concern that I hear from various organizations in terms of privacy and controlling the content in a social platform. They are concerned about employees not using the right tone and perhaps falling into a trap where things might be misconstrued because they might have not been written in the right tone. When this comes up, I usually recommend instituting a set of Social Computing Guidelines and monitoring the conversations to avoid problems. Typically, I get a very positive reaction from a large number of customers who appreciate that there's no way to dislike content within Connections.

Recently, however, I've had a few people ask that we introduce a way to down vote ideas within IBM Connections. Currently, you can only "like" things within Connections (i.e. you can vote up on ideas, you can give blogs/files/wikis a star, etc). In other words, there's no way to express your discontent with something, unless you manually type it in as a comment.

So I'm hoping to hear from you. Is this a good thing? Should you be able to "dislike" a file that someone posts? Or a wiki that someone created? What implications would there be on adoption if negativity where to to become rampant (like it is in some parts of YouTube) within a business' social network? Should the ability to down votes, if introduced, be prohibited for certain users?

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