My company is making an online search engine for teaching resources. The site indexes resources from various educational sites (TES, BBC, etc) and displays them in a post-list format. The site will primarily be used by teachers, who are short on time and not necessarily technically minded.

Example resource: enter image description here

We want to give users a way to rate the resources. I have opted for a like/dislike system rather than star-ratings for reasons such as this and this. Users have to login to vote, and can only vote on a resource once, to prevent (or at least reduce) spamming.

One of my colleagues believes we shouldn't have a dislike button. He believes it would create a "negative feel" on the site, and source websites "would not be happy with their resources being disliked".

I disagree, because I believe our site fulfills the criteria in this answer. What do you guys think? Can I get further opinions/sources on whether a dislike button is suitable?


I'm ideally looking for articles/studies that support my point that the term "dislike" is suitable here.

  • 1
    Why not flip it around to be upvote and downvote? And use that in ranking the importance of the list of resources? You'd also want to look at this answer on a related question: ux.stackexchange.com/a/12633/15140
    – nightning
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:16
  • Thanks, I've read that one; I linked to it in my question. Regarding the wording, our users are non-technical and likely to be 30-50yrs old, so I figure like and dislike will be more understandable to such an audience. Once we've got enough ratings, we'll definitely use the ratings to order the results! :) Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:37
  • Like/Dislike is good for all the reasons already mentioned. What about adding a percentage display? Do the math for viewers based on the likes/dislikes and you will have somewhat achieved both the simplicity of the +/- system and also (with enough input) given a deeper look into broader trends. It's a fairly simple "best of both worlds" option.
    – KnightHawk
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 17:05
  • At the very least (if you keep it binary), I would change it to more of a "this resource was useful to me" vs. "this resource was not useful to me". Another related post to consider: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/70254/…
    – J. Dimeo
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 3:13

3 Answers 3


First of all, the like/dislike system is restrictive. What if there's an educational material which could be labeled as "maybe"?

So you'd have to consider how prone to categorizing things your users are. If they love indicating qualitative differences, even if they don't have time, they will want to do it.

Of course there could be endless discussions about how the sound of "dislike" itself affects the atmosphere of the website, and other intricate aspects, but come on, they are teachers, right?

So make your user-centered approach about the way they grade their students.

Is it the 1 to 10 system? Than that's the way to go for you too. Is it the A, B, C... system? Appropriate it as well.

If you make it part of your system, they will use it instinctively, while feeling in control with the power of ordering things according to a maximum of flexibility.


Both are valid. However, I think a star rating system is a little more relevant here. Where like/dislike is a very black and white feedback, star rating system provides a little more of an engaging feedback....If I "dislike" it is a rather biased feedback....but if lets say it gets 3-4 star rating to me that means that the resource may not be top notch but also not as bad overall, thus prompting me to explore a little further. That is why restaurants, and other public establishments, even amazon opted for the star rating...it brings more depth to an otherwise biased system.

  • 1
    Good point. We have considered using star-ratings. However, all the teachers we've interviewed have all said how short of time they are, which made us think this would happen. My thinking is that after enough binary votes, the overall opinion on a resource will be evident, similar to YouTube, Reddit, or StackExchange. Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:34
  • @rredfearn32 well statistics don't lie haha. Go for it then :) You may also explore the notion of wording it differently not LIKE/DISLIKE but maybe RECOMMEND/DON'T RECOMMEND.....maybe it is a less harsh and more relevant to teachers lingo...or maybe even not have the words at all..let the thumbs icon do the talking
    – Stanley VM
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 16:47

Pretend your like button is a way of interacting with a point system. Because it is. Once posts have "likes" they're inevitably ranked in order of most likes to least likes. Now think about what a dislike button gives you: a negative point system. What can you do with a negative point system? You can find the most foul content, and remove it. What can you do with both systems? Find the most controversial content.

Personally I feel that Facebook's initiative to add more reactions was a great move, because it increases the dimensionality to reactions. People have lots of feelings, and they're all different.

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