Getting Back That YouTube Dislike Button

Ah, Google. Very few companies have mastered the art of creating amazing technology and products, and then so effectively abandoning and mishandling them. Case in point, YouTube. Citing “dislike attacks”, which are coordinated down-voting of particular videos, YouTube opted to hide the dislike counter on all videos. It could be pointed out that dislikes still impact the recommendation algorithm the same way they always have, and that creators still see their dislike counts on their own dashboard.

There might be something to the idea that YouTube doesn’t like the notoriety of their Rewind videos leading the dislike count, with 2018 at nearly 20 million. There may even be validity in the theory that corporate partners don’t like visible dislike numbers on their videos. Regardless, YouTube made the change, and people hate it. Their platform, so nothing you can do about it, right?

“Life, uh, uh, finds a way,” to quote my favorite fictional mathematician. Yes, a hacker, one of us, has figured out a workaround. [Dmitrii Selivanov] has put together the “Return YouTube Dislike” browser extension, which does a couple of things. First, it is pulling archived data about videos, taking advantage of the gap in time between the official announcement, and the removal of the dislike API.

But for new videos? That’s where things are harder. If you install the extension, your video likes and dislikes are tracked, and the combined user data is used to extrapolate an estimated dislike count on any given video. [Dimitrii] is also working on a way to allow individual channels to share their stats with the project, to give more official numbers for their videos.

The extension is open source, and the Chrome web store shows over a million users. Linus Tech Tips, along with a bunch of other channels, have covered this, so check out their videos for more.

Impressed by this bit of browser hacking? You can make an entire office suite in the browser as well!

40 thoughts on “Getting Back That YouTube Dislike Button

  1. That’s kinda like how Youtube should be structured anyways. The platform can’t also be the critic of the quality of its own content – that’s like a restaurant choosing which reviews appear in the media. In other contexts, Youtube picking and choosing would be called corruption.

    1. It is nothing like that. At all. Prior to Google’s evil/stupid move users were able to vote on content and see how others felt about the content.

      The content has nothing to do with Google either, it is user supplied.

      Your restaurant analogy makes no sense at all.

      1. It’s all about content creators. The major content creators that bring lots and lots of money, to be exact. Starting with media conglomerates, like Sony or Disney, who don’t like their movie trailers to be bombed with dislikes. This also includes major youtubers who are brands on their own. If you see that a video has lots of dislikes, you don’t watch it. If you see a restaurant with negative reviews, you don’t go there. If you see a product with lots of negative reviews, you don’t buy it. So Google in order to please those major content creators removed dislike counter. It’s exactly like restaurant owners banning negative reviews, especially if their restaurants are from Kitchen Nightmares.

        1. This.

          Also: YouTube and every platform slightly similar has grown to the point that they have so many algorithmic manipulators running across it’s content that nobody can be precisely sure of how exactly it runs or what particular ‘process’ is responsible for any given action. …it’s like Twitter explaining how their content eventually gets filtered and ultimately moderated…

      1. It’s like record sales in the 90’s: the big labels cheated (bought) the billboards to lift their preferred artists up and gain sales through visibility (making better artists invisible to the public), while using the very same boards to figure out what sort of music the people like to buy. They offered you a palette of stuff that was cheap to produce, and then used the “feedback” to see whether you’d prefer to buy the proverbial turd sandwich or a diarrhea smoothie.

        They’re manipulating the numbers for money and/or political gain and there’s nothing anyone can do about it; whether that targets individual users or everyone doesn’t make a difference.

        1. One of relatively popular youtubers in Poland had a curious problem with YouTube. He didn’t turn on monetization, because he knew his materials will be demonetized anyway or outright blocked for not being PG-13, Disney-friendly and politically correct. YouTube nagged him many times to turn monetization on. Finally at one point YT turned it on for him, and then blocked his videos. Fortunately for him finally they left him alone.

          YouTube sells ad space. They don’t care for content creators unless those creators are getting lots of views and lots of ads displayed. But advertisers prefer PG-13, politically correct and kid-friendly content. One of the reasons YT turned off dislike counters for everyone was because content from creators that sell, like movie studios and sell-outs, and their own YouTube Rewind trailer tanked harder than Titanic. So instead of disabling dislike counters for some videos they disabled it for all videos. To sell more c**p. So for that reason I say to everyone: install ad blocker for your browser and show giant middle finger to greedy corporations who think of content creators as a way to sell their junk. And support them directly.

        2. If they were just manipulating the numbers for money I’d be less concerned. I think it’s probably more about political control. We are moving towards something like China’s “social credit” system but tarted up for a western market. Doubleplusgood.

    1. Wonder what the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s GDPR would have to say to an addon having access to the view history of all users using this extension. Do they have a privacy statement on their site? I fail to see it.

  2. When they removed the dislike counter they also should have removed the like button too. A video with zero likes doesn’t have to be a bad video and a video with 10.000 likes doesn’t have to be good either. That’s why the dislike button was so valuable, as it provided context. Meaning you need them both or you don’t need them at all. The viewcounter only indicates how many times a 20+ minute video is started but doesn’t show the number of people who stopped watching after a few seconds. Lot’s of videos are being stretched out these days, a 20+ min review video about a silly subject isn’t exceptional any more. As ranking is now based on viewtime which can be boosted simply by making longer videos (and hope that the majority keeps watching). If your channel has enough viewtime already you can choose to ignore and thankfully many channels do. I hope YT changes the absolute viewtime to viewtime percentage instead of an absolute number. And maybe they will or even are already doing that. Life may find a way to beat the system only means that the system needs to constantly change to give everybody a fair chance and allow for diversion to keep things interesting.

    1. I find that without the Dislike counter being displayed, I’m less inclined to bother clicking the Like button.

      As for stretching videos, Den Of Tools has this down to an art. Except for some specific channels, any content over about 10 minutes long gets watched at 2x or skipped. It’s not an attention span issue, it’s fitting it into the time slots when I watch videos, like on long compiles or while tests are running.

    2. The “like” button isn’t even supposed to be informative to you or other users. It’s there just so Google can profile you better and target ads towards you. Having your “opinion” seen by others is just the psychological incentive to make you click the button.

    3. Jan, I think you’re right. Couple this with autoplay (which is turned on by default) and the “view time” numbers are useless. I’d go further and say that ALL the stats provided to “content creators” are useless. All that demographic stuff? Age, gender etc? What, nobody watches videos without being logged in to google? Nobody watches videos using a friend’s device? Nobody uses a work/library computer? Not to mention the obvious benefits to youtube of intentionally gaming the stats, to encourage the upload of certain kinds of content.

      If the service provider supplies the metrics about their own service, those metrics can’t be relied upon.

  3. Why user ratings isn’t an independent service from content?
    perhaps this is something that should be integrated into the browser, not the website.

    like the michelin guide to restaraunts. but run as a blockchain, with proof of work for reviews.

  4. There’s no such thing as “coordinated dislike attacks”.

    Brands, dinosaur media, politicians, “influencers”, shills, and all the other big money makers for Youtube simply are not self aware enough to grasp the concept that sometimes it just really is true that everyone disliked that. People disagreeing with your content is not a “brigade”. It’s just numerous uncoordinated and unassociated individuals disliking content they dislike.

    Youtube is just joining numerous other sites in eliminating negative feedback, and doing everything in their power to only allow positive feedback, or even prevent any feedback at all to come from users. It’s all to shill for the big pockets that pay the server bills.

    1. They know. That’s exactly why they’re calling it that.

      YT gets to choose who gets seen on YT and having a bunch of dislikes would reveal that they’re pushing unpopular videos. They know it’s people disagreeing with the content – they just don’t want to push it down the rankings accordingly because it doesn’t serve their interest, so they shoot down the opposition by an excuse.

    2. Exactly. If you type in a political subject on YouTube search they hide the video you are looking for and put MSM channels at the top. Even if you type the title verbatim. MSM who all present the same narrative.. Dislikes hidden and comments often disabled. They took the “You” out of YouTube.

  5. I remember when Disqus stopped showing the dislikes many few years ago. Discussions stopped being as interesting to me as I had no idea how my comments were perceived. Comments from others with low, high or 50/50 like/dislike ratios can be very interesting, but I had no way to see this anymore. When Disqus started to censor comments and boycott entire websites I stopped using it. I just noticed they brought the dislike count back in 2019. So they did realize their mistake. But It’s too late as many small websites have since developed their own comment systems.

    Facebook never had a dislike button, but people found creative ways around it. Some react with laughing or angry likes as dislikes, although that can be very confusing (are you laughing with someone or at someone, angry with them or angry at them?). What’s interesting is that Facebook does allow negative reviews of companies. So they are not purely anti negativity.

    As for YouTube the removal of the dislike button was the final straw for me. One of my accounts had already been banned for no reason at that point. Without the dislike button click-bait videos are now king. YouTube is now the worlds largest producer of spam. I’ve exported all my playlists and list of channels I’ve been subscribed too and deleted those from my account. I used to recover censored videos from my playlists. I’m logged out most of the time. I use the plugin DF-YouTube, which I use to block recommended videos and comments to limit my time on the platform. And I of course use ad block as I don’t want google to make a penny from me.

  6. Like/Dislike buttons are comment sections distilled to their pure essence, absent even context. If one can assume neither good faith feedback nor point to a common standard for it, can it serve anyone beyond those who gave it?

  7. Really, does removing this “anonymously dislike” button matter that much?

    Liking a video is a sociable thing. Disliking a video, especially anonymously, is an antisocial thing.

    I would prefer to encourage sociable activity and discourage anti-social activity on social media.

    If you have a criticism of a youtube video then you can take the time to make your views known in a comment, which can be moderated incidentally. The author can also see who you are, and go compare the quality of your own work to find out about you.

    We should do what we can to try to make the internet a pleasant place. Removing opportunities for anonymous trolls to be unkind is a good thing.

    1. “Liking a video is a sociable thing. Disliking a video, especially anonymously, is an antisocial thing. ”

      What if the video has anti-social content? In that case liking it would be antisocial and disliking it would be social.
      You cannot have the sweet without the bitter. You cannot have praise without criticism.

      “you can take the time to make your views known in a comment, which can be moderated incidentally. ”

      Deleted. It can be deleted. Dislikes cannot be deleted by the video maker (although YouTube itself has manipulated dislike counts many times).

      “We should do what we can to try to make the internet a pleasant place. Removing opportunities for anonymous trolls to be unkind is a good thing.”

      Sure. Let’s ban anonymity and negativity. Everyone will post with their full name and all “negative” comments, which don’t pass ambiguous rules, will be banned. It will be paradise online. NOT.

  8. The stated reason for the change is rather silly if the dislike button still exists and still works into the algorithm .. dislike attacks can still occur, the perpetrators just won’t get instant feedback on them.
    Meanwhile, the rest of are now left without valuable information.

  9. Except likes / dislikes aren’t a representation of content quality.

    At best they’re a reflection of viewer taste but If you go to a Sushi Restaurant & give them 1 star because their pizza is terrible is that a relevant reflection of their main content (sushi) ? Or your main interest (pizza) ?

    Like / dislike is not useful for Google or content creators. Alphabet is simply interested in ad views and time-on-site. Like / dislike is a vestige of up / down voting content to the front page. Something The Algorithm(tm) abandoned years ago and trolls abused.
    Content creators are interested in views and occasionally fostering a community. So having more comment engagement / moderating ability are the things they care about. If 100 crocheting grandmas dislike your custom minecraft server configuration content is that helpful to a you as a creator? Like / Dislike tells you nothing about the viewer. Having viewing stats is way more useful. Eg, how many viewers are subbed, how long people watched, which parts got skipped, which parts got looped, etc.

    1. “Except likes / dislikes aren’t a representation of content quality. ”

      Except they are. They are a metric for content quality. If you combine likes/dislikes with view count and comments you can get a pretty decent view of the general perception of the video by the audience. The audience of course differs per video since people generally watch videos they think they might like or which are fed to them by the algorithm.

      “At best they’re a reflection of viewer taste but If you go to a Sushi Restaurant & give them 1 star because their pizza is terrible is that a relevant reflection of their main content (sushi) ? Or your main interest (pizza) ?”

      The Sushi restaurant will use those ratings to decide not to serve pizza anymore, which will benefit everyone. Over time the few negative reviews about their pizza will be drowned out by their positive reviews about their sushi. No need to censor the negative pizza reviews since you think you should not be allowed to give a negative review about items on the menu that are not in the name of the restaurant.

      “Like / dislike is not useful for Google or content creators”
      Google may not be interested in it (I do think they use it in their algorithm), but content creators definitely use it. You don’t speak for content creators. And YouTube hasn’t blocked content creators from seeing it anyway.

      “Like / dislike is a vestige of up / down voting content to the front page”
      You typing a comment is a vestige of typing on a typewriter. Not an argument.

      “If 100 crocheting grandmas dislike your custom minecraft server configuration content is that helpful to a you as a creator?”

      Crocheting grandmas would not go to watch those types of videos and would x them out if they are accidentally fed to them by the YouTube algorithm. Very few, if any, would end up watching it and probably none would hit the dislike button.

  10. “Very few companies have mastered the art of creating amazing technology and products, and then so effectively abandoning and mishandling them. ”

    Xerox PARC is the eternal forerunner in this one.

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