If content-curation comes from the users for a consumer-facing site and there's no "down-vote" option, are "likes" better or "votes" better?

Here's my thoughts:

"Like" provides a more friendly and usable experience, people use it more liberally because of the positive connotation. However, they might be more reluctant to "like" something that they don't approve of but want to share.

"Vote up" seems somewhat serious, emotionless seems to be less of a trigger, but also makes it clear that someone doesn't necessarily condone whatever content is being shared. I'm worried using this word might bring less interaction.

I'm squaring off between the two right now, which is better?

  • I always miss the dislike button. Not clicking the like means one thing, but clicking the dislike would be a completely different one that should also be available.
    – PatomaS
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:42
  • I'm not a fan of the "like" wording at all. Many times I want to "promote" a story/article that has a bad/sad angle... 'pictures of a flood', 'Chinese censorship', 'new killer virus', etc. I always prefer the 2 options to vote up & down... in fact I feel censored if there is no down vote option.
    – scunliffe
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 14:32
  • "Promote" is definitely an interesting one- I'll keep that in mind. For the most part I think that downvotes from a UX perspective works for certain sites but can discourage some users from posting.
    – aroooo
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


If you don't plan on implementing a down vote, I think it would look strange to only have, for example, an arrow pointing up. Or a plus symbol. Likes are accumulative, while voting needs at least two options (otherwise it's not a vote), and some associations might be quite strong, like up/down, yes/no, plus/minus. I would probably feel something is missing if I see a uni-dichotomy!

Likes on the other hand don't need to be called so if you feel the word is ambiguous. Myrddin mentions a happy face or a symbol to express the same, and as long as it's a single element it should work equally well.

  • Good point, though I do believe HN is one of the few sites that uses upvotes only. I'm definitely using symbols like Myrddin mentions, but I'm not sure what it should be referred to (like = heart, or vote = uparrow and so on).
    – aroooo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:28
  • It could be something completely different and related to your service/product (can't help but think of cheeseburgers)
    – Yisela
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:33
  • Hmm, think of beauty contests, or contests for childrens' drawings. Although nowadays usually "implemented" directly with likes, they predate facebook by a decade at least. So, no, it's pretty fine to vote with only one option I guess.
    – Aadaam
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:42
  • Yeah, my only real concern is the connotation between "like" and "vote". One example of this problem is how Facebook's news feed is driven by likes & comments. Sometimes something that should be shared won't be 'liked' (because of disapproval or whatever) but will be heavily commented on- meaning it gets a lower rank than it might otherwise warrant but is still very interesting content.
    – aroooo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:48

Neither! I recommend symbology. Reddit uses an up arrow, many other sites use a thumbs up symbol. I have also seen sites use a plus sign or a happy face.

  • Yeah, I'll definitely be using symbols. I'm just trying to figure out what it should be referred to (likes would be hearts, an upvote would be an up arrow).
    – aroooo
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:26
  • 1
    The main distinction, as OP mentions, is that Reddiquette expects people to upvote interesting points even if they dislike them. It says "If you think something contributes to conversation, upvote it. If you think it does not contribute to the subreddit it is posted in or is off topic in a particular community, downvote it."
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 3:39

Vote up - with or without icon - has advantages that you have outlined that far outweigh any possible emotional pull of "like"

Write what you mean is probably a good rule of thumb here. If you want users to share, or up-vote or something, rather than like - then write (or denote with an icon) that.

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