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When adding content to our product, users have a few options they can select. These options have two states (selected and not selected) and can always be changed. There is no difference in value between the options and they are all optional.

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Is it easier to remove from an all-enabled selection or to add to an all-disabled selection?

Note: I'm aware that this is influenced greatly by context and user goals, but I'm looking for a theoretical answer.

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  • Couldn't understand the question and its purpose. Can you give a better example? – Kristiyan Lukanov Sep 1 '17 at 12:03
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As @socrates Kolios said, it highly depends on context. As a general rule, you're going to gain more user trust by allowing them to opt-in rather than forcing them to opt-out.

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I have no sources to link for this. But from my experience options are mostly (if not always) left for the user to select.

Examples that spring to mind are delivery / gift options in checkouts, filters in multi-faceted websites and selection/options in e-commerce websites.

Think websites like Airbnb, they show you a default view based on the criteria you searched and then they offer you the chance to filter or add extra options if you are looking for something specific.

Think of shopping websites or even car dealerships. You get your base model car and then you can browse through the available options if you want to add something extra to your car.

In general it seems to be always better to let the user discover the content herself than selecting things expecting to know what the user wants.

Give them the option but don't think you know what they need.

Of course all of the above is quite experiential I have to admit and it highly depends on context. But ask yourself this, unless it's a matter of "high importance" (e.g government / tax / health website) why are you selecting options for the user? And if you think it's mandatory to have (which is usually the reason you have preselected things) why are you giving them the option to unselect it?

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It is only based on user and business goals. It is extremely rare to have options equally used, but if you can't decide it, ask a few users or set something and measure it, so you can set a better default later. Also keep in mind most people will not change them, so to measure it well you will need to do an A/B test with options turned on and off (or set randomly).

I would also think about using checkboxes instead of sticky buttons.

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