Like To Dislike

By Richard Hughes on October 11, 2010

imageAfter last month’s Facebook dislike button scam, I enjoyed reading this article from The Next Web explaining why Facebook will never have real dislike button. They say “people simply can’t be trusted to use a dislike button sensibly”. It’s a slightly depressing observation to make, but for a consumer social network, it’s probably true.

However, I would suggest that a dislike button is an essential part of a business social network. In any intelligent debate, there needs to be a way to express polite disagreement. How else can you assess how well your work was received if no one is allowed to criticise it constructively? Without this you end up with endless comment streams of “that’s awesome!” and “you rock!” to a point where you only realise you’ve done something wrong when not enough people are telling you how awesome you are.

This is a subject we’ve discussed within BroadVision many times, and there’s a school of thought which says that whenever you click “dislike” on something, you have to explain why in a comment. I understand this argument, but personally, I don’t agree with it – if you don’t have to justify why you like something, why do you have to justify why you don’t like it? There are many occasions when I’ve read something that I don’t agree with or don’t like, but haven’t felt strongly enough to get into a debate about it. This “casual dislike” is possible because Clearvale’s like/dislike buttons are anonymous – I think this is a good thing because it leads to greater honesty and more accurate assessment of the worth of the content in question.

Although coming to terms with a culture that allows this sort of disagreement is not easy for everyone. I once clicked “dislike” on a blog post and within minutes, the author had added a comment asking “who did that?” This is one of the implications of the social web – anyone can publish, but they have to be a little more thick-skinned when they receive criticism. Clicking “dislike” doesn’t mean I dislike you, it means I don’t agree with one particular item you have written.

Many people talk about how the journey towards being a “social enterprise” is not just a question of installing the right technology, but a cultural shift. I believe that an essential part of this is to embrace the benefits of disagreement.

Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. But unfortunately you can’t click “dislike” on this blog post. We chose to remove the dislike button from the Clearvale blog…. we just can’t trust you to use it sensibly!