YouTube co-founder protests move to cut ‘dislikes’

When YouTube announced that it was deletion the number of “dislikes” of all the videos on its platform last week, not everyone was happy with the decision.

One of those critics: YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim.

Karim founded YouTube alongside Chad Hurley and Steve Chen in 2005. And while you don’t know any of YouTube’s three co-founders, you’ve probably seen a video of Karim.

This is because Karim uploaded the now famous very first video on YouTube, “Me at the zoo”. With over 200 million views, the 18-second video shows Karim talking to the camera about the elephants in the enclosure behind him.

Although Karim’s video is over 16 years old, the description of the video is very recent. The YouTube co-founder is using the historic old video to his advantage to protest YouTube’s very current decision to remove dislikes from videos.

“Why would YouTube make this universally hated change?” Karim said in the description. “There is a reason, but it’s not a good reason, and it will not be disclosed publicly. Instead, there will be references to various studies. Studies that seemingly contradict every YouTuber’s common sense. . “

Karim refers to the YouTube announcement last week where the company explained that it was removing dislikes after finding out that small channels benefited from the removal because it was deterring coordinated ‘aversion crowds’ who would heavily press on the thumbs down button on a video. There have been a few conspiracy theories surrounding this decision and Karim seems to be referring to at least one of them, but he never specifies which one.

According to Karim, the characteristic of aversion was part of a process that worked, which he considers “the wisdom of the crowds.”

“The process stops when the platform interferes with it,” he explains. “Then the platform invariably declines. Does YouTube want to become a place where everything is poor? Because nothing can be great if nothing is bad.”

While Karim is clearly opposed to removing dislikes, this isn’t the first time YouTube has drastically changed its rating system. In fact, no such functionality existed when Karim co-founded the video platform; there was a 5 star rating system. YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006 and the search engine discontinued the 5-star system in 2009 in favor of the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” buttons.

It’s also worth noting that YouTube only removes dislike accounts from the public. Users will still be able to dislike a video to signal the platform that they disliked a video.

This is not the first time that Jawed Karim has used the very first YouTube video to express his dissatisfaction with a company decision. In 2013 he protested YouTube’s requirement to have an account on Google’s social network since closed, Google+, in order to leave comments.

The YouTube co-founder has edited it since he originally expressed his disapproval and released a more succinct summary of his thoughts: “When all YouTubers agree that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, that’s probably the case. Try again, YouTube. “

Karim’s full thoughts on removing the aversion account can be read below:

Watching Matt Koval’s ad about removing dislikes, I thought something was wrong.

The words spoken did not match the eyes. The video reminded me of an interview with Admiral Jeremiah Denton in 1966. I have never seen a less enthusiastic and reluctant announcement of something that is supposed to be great.

Calling dislikes removal a good thing for creators cannot be done without conflict by someone with the title of “YouTube Creator Link”. We know this because there isn’t a single YouTube creator who thinks removing dislikes is a good idea, for YouTube or for creators.

Why would YouTube make this universally hated change? There is a reason, but it is not a good reason, and it will not be publicly disclosed. Instead, there will be references to various studies. Studies that seemingly contradict the common sense of every YouTuber.

The ability to easily and quickly identify bad content is an essential characteristic of a user-generated content platform. Why? Because not all user-generated content is good. It cannot be. In fact, most are not good. And that’s OK. The idea has never been that all content is good. The idea WAS, however, that among the flow of content there are some great creations waiting to be exhibited. And for that to happen, what isn’t great has to fall to the side as quickly as possible.

The process works, and there is a name for it: Crowd Wisdom. The process stops when the platform interferes with it. Then the platform invariably declines. Does YouTube want to be a poor all-rounder place? Because nothing can be great if nothing is bad.

In business, there is only one thing more important than “Make it better”. And it’s “don’t screw it up”.


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