Updated: January 19, 2022
You must have heard. There is a new episode of Internet drama! Youtube has decided to remove the Dislike counter from under the video playback frame. This means that people, at a glance, do not have a way of knowing how many dislikes a particular video has received in its lifetime, and more importantly, the like-to-dislike ratio, which is commonly used to quickly estimate the "quality" of video clips. Seems like we have a problem. But wait.
As always, I find the whole issue quite entertaining, and the approach to the perceived problem wrong. Because I have a totally different perspective on this change. To wit, I shall now explain. Not only will you get a nugget of written wisdom photonically catapulted at your eyes, you will also gain the necessary knowledge to effectively and painlessly cope with this new dislike-less Youtube. Begin, we must.
You're doing it wrong
The use of the Like and Dislike counters to value video clips is erroneous. It's a partial, incomplete metric that does not provide any true understanding of what you're about to watch. The reasons are many. One, when a person likes/dislikes something, their action indicates an emotional response, and to that end, it's personal and wholly subjective. Two, the cumulative count, as well as the ratio between the two values, indicate social "trends" rather than any genuine accuracy of how "good" the content really is.
Here's an example. Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Awesome stuff, right.
Say you find a clip showing an orchestra performance of this masterpiece, and you want to watch it. Or rather, listen to it. And now, at this point, the Opinion Conundrum kicks in! If you are a classical music aficionado, and you like Vivaldi's talent, do you care what anyone else thinks about this particular work?
Why would it matter what other people think of it? How does your taste in music conflict with someone else's taste? Say a person who hates classical music stumbles upon a Four Seasons recording on Youtube, and they decide to dislike it. How does this, in any conceivable manner, affect your taste and enjoyment?
The only answer to the question "why would it matter ..." that makes sense is that the viewer has really no opinion of their own, and their personality is shaped by whatever they are being told by the telly. In which case, we have a much bigger problem, and it can only be solved through the use of lobotomy and a 15th Century trebuchet.
Now, let's consider a different scenario. Someone dislikes the video above ... but for technical rather than artistic reasons. Maybe the recording quality is bad. Maybe there is a part of a performance missing. Something along these lines. While such problems may degrade the actual watch/listen experience, the dislike count doesn't help. It won't reflect the issue in any way, or indicate to potential viewers what awaits them.
In the end, Likes/Dislikes only serve one purpose - it's a popularity pissing contest. Useless.
So what does make sense? Contextual information, of course. Comments. In essence, this is no different than the Amazon review issue I've talked about several months back. If you really want to separate the "good" information from "fake" information or whatever, you will need to invest time in reading the comments (provided they make any sort of sense), and figure out if there's any value in the video clip you are about to watch. This applies to book reviews, movie reviews, everything. And the information may not be accessible.
Now, you could say: but this ruins the whole entertainment factor, LOL. I just want to watch a video clip, not research it.
Well, then it you want to watch something - without any prior information - there is no reason for any sort of metric, is there, and/or no reason to get angry or antagonistic if the plot turns out to be contrary to your expectations, be it a movie or a technical tutorial on how to replace your smartphone screen. Indeed.
The solution is quite simple then. Comments, if available. Likes and dislikes are pointless.
However, there's a bit more you can do. Even if there is no supporting information to help you decide whether to invest your time in the Youtube clip you're about to watch, there are several highly useful indicators that can help you decide what to do. And unlike the Dislike counter, we're talking about clip "elements" that Youtube cannot remove. The title and the thumbnail of the clip, that is. These two tell a great deal about the content, even if you've not seen anything yet. So let me help you figure out what not to watch.
If you think having no personality and needing others to define one's opinions for them is sad, then wait until you hear about Reaction videos. The premise is thus: There is a video clip, showing something. Let's call this Exhibit A. Now, someone else records themselves watching this video, and provides commentary PLUS facial expressions, i.e. reaction to the video. Let's call this Exhibit B. And then you have people who watch B.
So what you have here is the pure essence of laziness. Instead of watching A, you have someone else watch A and then they do the reacting and thinking and feeling for you and give it all nice and packaged for you in the form of B. How's that for a non-experience? I mean what's the point? It's like having a friend to go cinema, record themselves watching a movie, and then they come back and give you a two-hour clip of them munching on popcorn and making an odd face when a scene changes. Also, why stop there?
Why not create a video where someone reacts to someone else reacting to a video? Or add a fourth or fifth element (fifth!) to this equation? Or a ninth? In the end, you can go so far down the chain that you end up with someone reacting to something that has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the original content.
I can understand why someone would make a video showing how to replace a gearbox on a combine harvester, or how to carve wood, or perhaps skin a pangolin. Practical things. But if it's a tutorial of a software-related thing that can be wholly, deterministically defined through a sequence of commands (that would be text), then there's no point to it, even if the tutorial is actually useful and well-made.
Let's start with the time waste. Videos are not really searchable, unless tagged, but even then, you have crude points. If you open a Web page, you can instantly search for any word. Right there. In video clips, you don't know where or when the relevant reference, command or example will be shown. In a 17-min video, the information you seek could be in the first 33 seconds of it, or you need to wait 15 minutes before the actual solution pops up. With text, you can get the information far more quickly and accurately. And if you can actually read, you will do it far faster than a person can utter the exact same words. Roughly 5-30x faster.
Text tutorials can also be replicated, printed, repeated. Video ones are only useful for live interaction, i.e. something happening right then, academic lessons (which may include showing HOW a certain result is achieved, like a mathematical formula), or practical hands-on things that cannot be easily illustrated with just text and images.
X [Adjective] Steps to [Adjective] [Noun]
Here, I am talking about articles that are so optimistic or so over-achieving that I instantly get depressed. Like 10 easy steps to build muscle mass and look like a pro. Nah. Can't be done. There are no shortcuts in life. Repeat after me. Evolutionary speaking, if we were all meant to look like Dolph Lundgren, then we would all look like him. The fact the average human can be mistaken for a sea lion in bad lighting probably indicates that there's some effort needed to maintain that sweet 13% fat, right.
This applies to any domain, any subject. Wealth generation, public speaking, sports, cooking. Developing exceptional skills takes time, effort, dedication, patience, pain. You can achieve reasonable proficiency in many things relatively easily, but anything above adequate amateur is difficult. Ignoring this hard lesson is as bad as watching videos that try to convince and motivate you into doing the impossible.
See how ...
Video clips that tell what will happen + explain the moral angle. For instance, see how [favorite political person] demolishes [unfavorite political target] in a heated argument! I mean the only reason to watch something like this is to get that sweet, sweet juice of vindication for some old, pent-up nugget of frustration that probably has very little to do with the Internet. But hey. Then again, you don't really need to watch it. The title summarizes it all. It tell you what happens, how it happens, to whom it happens. No suspense! The judgment has been made and done, so your participation is optional.
I did [Something] and [Something else] [Adjective] happened
The clips with this kind of title usually fall into the "wowzers amazeballs" category, where it's like totally crazy what happened, you ain't gonna believe it, or there's so much gushy enthusiasm in the end that your dinosaur sensibilities are offended, and you feel nausea bubbling up. Apart from being carefully crafted, of course, the videos are a gentle insult to human intelligence, because they tell you that if you do something without any thought to the potential ramifications or consequences, then you may be surprised by the outcome!
Any video with a stunned expression thumbnail
To wit, the expression of wisdom and style:
The over-exaggerated mouth gape faux-surprise expression is probably the sum of all that is unnecessary with the so-called modern Internet. The only passable exception to this nonsense is when a well-known celebrity (a real one, not your round-the-corner influencer) does this as a gimmick, but even then, you deserve ten lashes.
OK, enough of that. Now, for something completely different.
Finally, what about Dislike browser extensions?
You may have also heard that there's a whole bunch of new browser extensions out there, which restore the Dislike count functionality. While this is a noble effort, it is also totally misplaced. Like any solution that tries to fix a fatal flaw in the original product, it actually helps perpetuate the flaw by hiding it.
We're all guilty of doing this. For instance, I am using Open-shell in Windows 8 and Windows 11 (which I only use for testing, mind). The real solution is, if you don't like something, don't use it. If you keep using it, the original creator or owner of the flawed product has no incentive to change it (unless materially affected). And so, if you keep using Youtube even though you HATE the change - you're doing exactly zero. It's a very simple formula. Youtube makes a change to their UI, people continue using the product, end of story. No dilemma. Nothing. Simple maffs!
And so, I think the extensions don't actually help. They allow more people antagonistic to the change to keep using Youtube despite the change, they hide the change, and help perpetuate its status, regardless of everything else. If people still go by the Like/Dislike ratio as their gauge for the video clip quality, well all right then, be my guest. But since I think the whole metric is pointless, removing one half of it doesn't make any difference. Half of pointless is still pointless. And there are better ways. I just showed you.
There you go. Now you have the tools to be your own boss. Or more like, the boss to be your own tool. Youtube has its merits, but like anything Internet-related, 90% of it is useless, and I'm being optimistic with this number. Still, I won't deny its occasional usefulness. Even I, Mr. Grumpy, sample from it now and then. I watch an odd episode of a rare talk show, I watch Bob Ross painting, I sometimes watch racing clips from Spa and Nurbungring, I watch an occasional clip of some silly game action, like BeamNG or ArmA 3. There's good stuff to be had, and it has nothing to do with how many views the clip may have had, or how many people out there liked or disliked it. Be an individual. Like Brian in Life of Brian says, you're all individuals.
If you hate the Dislike change, then vote with your wallet, or rather, your viewership. True for any product. You'd be amazed if I showed you my list of products that I've permanently stricken off from any future purchase. It's a proper paper manifesto, j'accuse and all that. Goes back twenty years, and you will never ever hear me mention any such product. Ever. Back to Youtube. Don't like it, don't use it. Want to use it but struggle with the UI change? Well, hopefully, my article will help you save time figuring out where to invest your precious time. Or more likely, it won't make any difference whatsoever. Because people who watch the clips I outlined above don't care about Dedoimedo in any way, and they exist in a separate, parallel universe to my own. Which is just how it should be.
P.S. The image of the monkey is in public domain.