Currently my website has a feature to like and dislike posts. What would be the optimal and most user friendly solution to show the likes and dislikes?

A total score (Likes - Dislikes)

A like score and a dislike score

A percentage (Upvoted%)

  • 1
    The number of likes and dislikes also shows 'activity' (whether people are interested in the topic). That's often as interesting a metric as whether people liked something or not. If you use total score you lose this.
    – PhillipW
    Jun 16 '21 at 8:41

There are tradeoffs and it depends partly on what end you want to serve.

The most transparency is both numbers plus a visual representation of the % (e.g. a "progressbar"-style horizontal bar with a certain amount coloured). As PhilipW noted, giving the numbers allows users to gauge activity, while the % allows them to quickly mentally score the video (rather than doing mental math to decide whether 175 dislikes is a lot vs. 1139 likes).

This is not too much info — it's just about right to make the decision of whether to watch a video and for how long, for example. Hence, Youtube currently offers this option.

Anything else is giving less info to the user. So you should ask yourself: what do you not need them to know?

Youtube is currently piloting the removal of the public dislike count. They argue that it's for creators' mental health. However, they will still show the dislike count to the creators on the backend, so while the creators may fret less over revenue, they will still get all the judgement.

Instead, there's another motivation. Having dislikes means your site contains bad content. Bad content does not get clicks and does not generate ad revenue. Having only a % of likes would mean everything now has a score; and even better, having only a number of likes means everything is now only "more good" or "less good", but it's all still "good" content.

But the user will then be disappointed if they come across a bad video that they might have known was bad if it had a 1:10 ratio of likes to dislikes.

Of course, there's also too much information. Some likes or dislikes may not be valid. StackOverflow, for example, keeps dislikes private if they come from users with less than N reputation.

So these are the questions you should ask yourself. But from a UX perspective, having all of the above is not too much and serves the user well.

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