The "Like" Button

I would appreciate your feedback on the "like" button. I have mixed feelings about it, and I think that it could use some improvement.

First, I want to know how you use it, and how you find it useful. I do think that it is a good way of showing that you have 'read' a post, and agree with it. In some ways, it helps build connections and interactions between community members.

On the other hand, I don't think it helps to identify/encourage the most useful/helpful posts on the forum. There is a lot of very valuable information on the forum, and one of my initial hopes when creating the 'like' button was that it would also help to identify and organize the best writing on the forum. While it does sometimes help with that, a lot of valuable posts are lost in the mix. As the forum grows, identifying the most useful posts becomes more and more valuable.

I've been thinking about how to do that. One thought would be to change the like button, perhaps calling it a "thank you" button. Another possibility would be to add another button that marks a post as 'valuable.' Maybe then, you could even see the list of posts you've saved. However, I hesitate to add another button, because I prefer simplicity, and do no want to clutter the forum. There are probably other solutions to this problem. Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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If it helps, I use the "like" button to say "I agree with this and I'm going to hit the 'like' button instead of typing another post saying what you just said".

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
LJ Wrote:
> If it helps, I use the "like" button to say "I
> agree with this and I'm going to hit the 'like'
> button instead of typing another post saying what
> you just said".

That is exactly how I use the "Like" button. I also have mixed feelings about it, and, although I do use it, it would not break my heart to see it gone.
I use it as "What he/she said." Also as a "Thank you for writing such a detailed response"

And sometimes I like simply because I like what they've wrote, even if I don't personally agree.

Plan the work. Work the plan.
Now that I think of it. I have used it to show my appreciation for a particularly witty or intelligent post that I only *wished* I'd thought of.

I also happen to like buttons, so if you have a hankerin' to add a "What he/she said" button or "thank you" button ... whatever... I'll click em' when I have a mind to.

One thing I have noticed on a lot of news media sites that allow comments is the anonymous "vote up" and "vote down" button with a simple count feature. People could easily find the most helpful votes by looking for the largest (positive) number. Numbers can go in the negative if more people vote a comment down.

Another option is the way Amazon handles their reviews. At the bottom of each review is "did you find this review helpful" and you click either yes or no. The count shows the ratio such as 56 out of 72 people "found this review helpful" or "found this comment adds to the discussion".

I kinda lean toward the anonymous buttons though.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
Anonymous thumbs up or down, likes or dislikes, no matter. In any social media, I do not use either. I find them overused to the point of irrelevant. Any such "vote" curtails conversation. Whether I like, or dislike, words carry more weight, and encourage conversation. Icons do not. I ignore them. It's not a popularity contest, by virtue of votes.
I never really thought of it as a popularity contest. I wonder if others feel that way too. I just thought it was nicer than seeing the same comment over and over again and aids in finding most helpful comments faster.

I'll have to ponder that a little myself, Mert.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
I'm not beholden to any one thought on this topic. If 'value of post' is the desired measurement, then the Amazone example is great. IMHO.

As a poster, when someone likes my post, I get the feeling that I've contributed and that there was value in posting my response. I also know that at least one person has read it! It does encourage me to post more.

Mike T
Looking for shops in Western Canada

"Life is good because the alternative is forever "
I like the "like button" and use it to show agreement, thank someone for a helpful answer to my post, or to show appreciation for an informative post. I like the Amazon model as well, if you are looking for a measurement tool.

Thanks to all the forum members!
I like the like button because it lets me support a post or appreciate a post without making a post of my own saying "I agree".
It never occurred to me to consider it as a popularity vote. I consider it a vote to appreciate a post that is informative, useful, and/or entertaining.

Jacob, if you're looking for the most valuable posts to be permanently retained, you'll need to choose those posts yourself. It might work to have a committee to make recommendations to you, but the ultimate responsibility has to be yours. I'm under the impression you want a loosely controlled forum, but letting forum members decide what should be retained permanently may be going a little too far. If you let others make the decision on what should be retained and you discover the right selections aren't being made, how would you then handle that?

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
I also like the like button for most of the reasons already stated. I also think the Amazon example is a good way of measuring usefulness. If we had both, great. If we could only have one, I'd stick with the 'like' button. If we did have the Amazon button, I think being able to search by the results would be useful.
Normally, I would not comment, because I "liked" the first post I saw, that I agreed with. I also tend to "like" posts that make me laugh and ones that I see as very helpful. I like the like button.
I like the "like" button and occasionally wish we had a "love" button for those posts that are extremely useful or for the ones that are amazingly creative and make me laugh out loud.

As far as measuring the usefulness or "likeability" of a post, well, in my opinion, it differs from person to person and is entirely subjective. It's unlike Amazon, where Amazon's customers are solely measuring the amount of useful information provided about a particular product or manufacturer, and are seeking objective information.


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2014 10:00AM by stilllearning.
Canuck, I think you and I would agree that a "LMAO" button would make us both. It could actually replace my desire for a "love" button. smiling smiley


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
Yelp or Google, I forget which, has buttons under each review for you to click on if you found it to be "useful", "funny", or "cool". We could have "helpful thumbs up", "funny grinning smiley", "rude thumbs down", and "my sentiments exactly smileys with beer " buttons.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
Okay, I have to weigh in on this one. Sorry this will be a bit long, but I've been there, done that with this one.

I used to be a volunteer in the eBay Answer Center, which was a forum where people who needed help could get quick answers from other eBay users any time of the day or night. Many hard-core eBayers staffed the Answer Center. I used to spend about three hours a night there for a couple of years helping eBay users do things right, avoid getting scammed, and teaching them how to do what they needed to do there, much like we have here.

eBay also had a search feature where people could search old threads for answers to commonly-asked questions, much like we have here.

Then someone decided they wanted to find a way to have the best answers float to the top of the search results -- as has been proposed here.

So they implemented a "was this answer helpful? Yes No" to the bottom of each post.

Each thread was limited to 10 answers, then it locked. The point was to answer the question, not engage in endless debate. There was also a Discussion forum on eBay where topics could be discussed at length. Generally if three posters gave the same advice, there was little need to discuss it further. If OP didn't give enough information, the first poster would request the missing information, and later posters would discuss and reach a conclusion. Sometimes firestorms erupted, as also happens here at times. But after 10 posts, the fight would end because the thread ended.

The voting boxes caused a rebellion among the volunteers. I was among them. We argued with eBay. We wrote letters. We proved the boxes were causing the most popular answers to float to the top, not the most correct answers. Example: OP writes, "My item just sold for $10 but I was hoping to get $50. Do I have to sell it?" Well, according to the eBay rules (and common decency) yes, you do have to sell it for $10. Was this answer helpful? Well, what do you think OP would vote in this case? So he votes down the correct answer. The next poster writes, "I wouldn't sell it for $10. Tell the winner your dog chewed it up, wait a few weeks, and relist it." Hey, OP thought that was great advice! So that answer got the Yes vote. The other insidious thing was that anyone could vote. People voted No on responders they didn't like, voted Yes repeatedly on answers they liked or from people they liked. You could have multiple ID's on eBay; I have eight myself. Each ID could vote. So the voting could be manipulated.

Responders created taglines urging people not to vote, or saying, "Vote yes if you think eBay sucks, Vote No if you have fleas" just to prove how pointless the voting was.

But the thing that really ticked off the volunteers (and in case anyone missed the parallel, we in the forum are also volunteers trying to help people out of the goodness of our hearts) was the idea of inviting people who didn't know how eBay worked to tell these hard-working volunteers that they were *not helpful.*

eBay lost their best Answer Center responders over that. It was insulting and dismissive to encourage the people we were taking our time to help to tell us we were not helpful. Yes, we were helpful. We just didn't always tell them what they wanted to hear. After months of dialogue and protest, eBay still wouldn't budge. They flat refused to remove the voting boxes. About 300 of their best responders left the Answer Center, most never to return.

I can see the same thing happening here if a voting system were introduced so the best posts could be identified. "best" is a matter of perspective. A newbie who comes here to say, "I just took a shop for this weekend but my sister has tickets to a concert and I want to go. Should I tell the scheduler I have the flu so I can do it another day?" doesn't want to hear, "You committed to do the shop. Do the shop." They want to hear, "Go to the show, you only live once. There will be other shops." Every shopper who ever flaked a shop will be voting Yes on that one. Is that what we want on the top of the search results?

Most questions here are somewhat unique; the ones that aren't can be stickied in the new shopper area. Keyword searches are imprecise at best. Trying to sort the most helpful posts that contain the word "bank shop" is not going to produce anything useful to the person who wants to know if you have to be a customer of the bank to do a bank shop.

Having a way of applauding a good post is fine. A thumbs up button is good. The "like" button works pretty well. But a thumbs down or a yes/no vote will introduce negativity and a sour note to the forum and will not produce anything useful for sorting search results because most threads die a natural death after a few days and new topics come up. We have enough rancor here without memorializing it with a vote count that won't do anything to improve search results. A lot of keywords come up in posts that will be completely irrelevant to the topic.

Maybe a button for "archive-worthy" at the thread level, not the post level, could be added. If a thread gets 20 votes for the archive, the thread gets preserved and included in search results. If it flames and dies because it was a unique question not likely to be of enduring interest ("did everyone see that Maritz will be doing maintenance tonight?"winking smiley it does not get preserved.

But please don't put up a voting situation where anyone is going to tell these experienced and knowledgeable volunteers that their advice was not helpful.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
Dspeakes, I appreciate your post. I usually skim through lengthy commentary, but I read every word of yours. You brought up some points I hadn't thought of and convinced me that a yes/no vote would probably not be a good idea for us.

Thank you.

(Edited for to correct typo.)

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2014 04:08PM by LJ.

I share many of your concerns here.

BUT, you might be interested to know that I found your post using a new "algorithm." It is actually very simple, but I don't want to give it away, so that people won't know how to manipulate it. It is going to be used partly to identify posts to be included in the weekly forum newsletter. (Not the featured discussions, but the top posts.)

I don't think voting for the best answer is right for a forum. I want to encourage discussion, a diverse set of opinions, and well thought out posts.
Ok! I updated the algorithm for selecting the "Top Discussions" and the "Top Posts." Check it out on the front page. It is based on more than just the number of likes. The goal is to help you find the more interesting and useful discussions, while also NOT encouraging certain types of discussions. Your thoughts / feedback are greatly appreciated.
Jacob, this isn't the same algorithm that a certain MSC uses, where we will find ourselves suddenly deactivated, is it?

Just asking.....


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
Must not be because I'm still here. Or am I?

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
This may be a dumb question ... but what are you referring to when you say " Check it out on the front page. " What, exactly, is considered the "front page" here?

Time to build a bigger bridge.
The "front page" is the page you see when you hit "Mystery Shop Forum".


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
I never use that page; I use the links below to move around the forum.

I would see more benefit to "top discussions" than "top posts." If a person clicks through to a "top post," they are going to need to read the thread to put it in a context anyway.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
You need to keep it simple. The like button is perfect. It is always positive.

I had a similar option and then decided to update it to a fancy vote up or vote down and the post then had a number that could go positive or negative. All of the sudden you had people that didn't like other people using this in a negative way and there was much ego and drama stirred up by the fact that now each post had it's own "rating". My solution was to go back to the simple like button as is used here.

Sometimes more features create more problems. I did not begin to realise how much drama having a counter and a thumbs up and down could cause. I had to manually edit the SQL database to rip out the thums down and the counter and revert back to the old plugin with only the thumbs up but it was worth the three hours I spent changing it back in the long run.
I can so see this happening. Great post and I totally agree with you, even if this means I don't get my "love' button. smiling smiley


I intend to live forever. So far, so good.
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