Why Google+ Doesn't Have -1s

May 27, 2014 • 8:27 am | comments (24) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Yonatan Zunger, the Chief Architect of Google+, posted on Google+ a study of how positive and negative feedback on people's posts in social networks affects their future behavior. Specifically, this looks at how "Data Mining Reveals How The “Down-Vote” Leads To A Vicious Circle Of Negative Feedback."

The evidence is that a contributor who is down-voted produces lower quality content in future that is valued even less by others on the network. What’s more, people are more likely to down-vote others after they have been down voted themselves. The result is a vicious spiral of increasingly negative behaviour that is exactly the opposite of the intended effect.

Yonatan from Google+ said that is why you don't see down voting on Google+ and that YouTube is making efforts to change how they handle down voting.

YouTube Dislike

Yontan wrote:

This is actually stuff which has been known in practice by people in the field for a while, and (for example) it's part of why I'll be damned if I ever allow a "-1" button on Google+. In fact, many of the changes we made to YouTube commenting over the past year have to do with applying ideas like these, in very subtle ways. (That one is going to take longer to take effect, since YouTube has quite a lot of inertia, but we've already observed significant changes in tone).

So now you can go ahead and down vote this story but you can't down vote Yonatan's post on Google+.

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05/27/2014 01:53 pm

I dislike this story, Barry.


05/27/2014 03:43 pm

Perhaps Google being an upbeat company only like to focus on the positive and not negative?


05/27/2014 03:53 pm

Negativity exists. Regardless of behaviour and future implications; I think the responsibility is on people to learn to "deal" with negativity rather than sweeping it under the carpet. Worse still - this blocks people from expressing themselves or adding additional negative flags (down-votes) to expedite the removal of ignorant and malicious content from the web. I'm all for down votes, sorry utopian idealists!

Michael Martinez

05/27/2014 04:03 pm

The Internet makes it impossible for the individual to "deal with it" when it comes to negativity and bullying. At the first sign of disapproval the crowd mechanism kicks in and other people begin expressing disapproval, even when they don't understand what is being expressed or discussed. This is actually a very good design decision from Google (one of the few).


05/27/2014 04:21 pm

I strongly disagree but you are welcome to your opinion ;) as a long hair I know quite a bit about being bullied and you can always walk away from it. Not stating this as fact. My own experiences in life obviously differ from yours =) I was bullied extensively when I was younger (both online and offline); I realised that you can't control the world around you to remove bullies. They're everywhere and they will always find a way to express themselves. When it came down to it, the real resolution to bullying came from within.

Michael Martinez

05/27/2014 04:33 pm

As someone who has studied crowd behavior on the Internet for over 15 years I can point you to plenty of research on the subject. Snowballing happens very quickly with online crowds and there is no walking away from it.


05/27/2014 04:40 pm

Google is already easy to weaponize... it does not need to be easier to weaponize. That is the real reason. Opinions on negativity are irrelevant if it was never going to happen anyway.


05/27/2014 05:03 pm

I don't need to see your research. I have lived through and walked away from cyber bullying - first hand experience! Do not tell me that my own experiences are false, it is very belittling. I am allowed to have a different opinion to you.


05/27/2014 05:28 pm

If it ever was actually a "design decision"... I think it was a technical decision and the developers would have never allowed it... the designers are chiming in on something they likely had no say over.


05/27/2014 05:33 pm

Additional (many of you may not want to read this, or have the patience): Sorry if this seems irrational but I think your remarks are disempowering for victims. As someone who has suffered from Aspergers syndrome (a form of autism) since birth (as well as not physically 'fitting the mold') I can tell you that I have walked away from cyber bullying. The same goes for real life. Not only was I able to walk away - but it was the best course of action! Your statement that it is 'impossible' to walk away from cyber bullying is factually incorrect and also it encourages victims (like me) who may also have mental disabilities to "give up". Do you have any idea how damaging that is to people with conditions like mine? Your belief that people can't escape cyber bullying is not damaging. Stating that it is a fact (and that everyone else is wrong) is hugely damaging. I'm sorry if you feel that your years of research and observation entitle you to state that my opinion is invalid (a word people have used to describe me before) but research lacks emotional perspective. There's nothing that real victims (like me) hate more than a know it all who ignores the very people they are supposedly helping! Again, sorry for the emotional response. This issue (bullying) hits very close to home for me, and I will not have someone saying "he just doesn't understand it". Hope we can keep this amicable!


05/27/2014 07:03 pm

I think some people relish being victims. Not to say bullying does not exist but for some being a victim is heaven.


05/27/2014 08:04 pm

disqus started hiding downvote counts a few months ago, for the same reason I guess.

Michael Martinez

05/27/2014 09:29 pm

You have no idea of what you're talking about. Victims do not relish being victims.


05/28/2014 07:04 am

There you go again... if you met my mother-in-law you would know exactly what I was talking about. She positively embraces the role of victim at every opportunity.

Ben Guest

05/28/2014 11:34 am

You're absolutely right. It's ok to be wrong. Just let the person be wrong to avoid the argument. Both of you are discussing two totally different points anyway. :-) You're talking about tough skin, and he's talking about negativity snowballing for no reason other than people hitting the dislike button. And for some reason, bullies never met me out on the football field. ;-)


05/28/2014 12:07 pm

Ah it's just something I get a bit OTT about since it's an issue that hits close to home for me. But I should just learn from this and leave it by the door no? ;)

Michael Martinez

05/28/2014 04:07 pm

I'll just tell the scientific community they have been studying the wrong people all these decades; they should have been monitoring your mother-in-law instead.


05/28/2014 09:12 pm

We often come to a realization between what we like and what we don’t. It’s most likely good to have a “down vote” to see whether our posts are great, good enough, or meaningless. Criticism is good for us, to make us “post better and be better posters. “ Other people feel that it can awfully be too much, because it no longer becomes an opinion of what we think or suggest, but an extensive disapproval, insecurity for some and cyber bullying. So, it’s also good that you don't have it.

Grammy Winner Taylor Swift

05/28/2014 11:56 pm

Please. Google+ would be lucky to get ANY feedback of any type at all.


05/29/2014 05:49 am

by positive and negative feedback on Google+ we can no what our readers are want and we can provide best to out followers/

Yo Mamma

05/29/2014 04:11 pm

"Why Google+ Doesn't Have -1s" gives you an idea how warped Google is. Let up white/males all think positive and make it count. Negative thoughts are valueless, according to Google. Reminds me of the world is flat theory. Google! It took NEGATIVITY on at least one person to say "STOP!..... Listen to my negativity!.... The world is ROUND" Ah shut up Mr. Negative. We all say its flat. There goes Mr. Negative again. Pay him no attention

Robert Fisher

05/29/2014 04:41 pm

I always love highly scientific decisions like: the evidence is blah blah blah and ...this has been known (by the smart people in the industry) for a long time. There is no evidence but a conclusion based on some nebulous yet to be revealed evidence. If you have evidence, certainly Mr. Zunger can produce it. The thing with statements like "everyone knows already that...," is that statement is still not evidence, it is anecdote. Usually, this type of evidentiary analysis is done to prove up a decision that was already made. There are many forums that have up and down votes and various ways of handling. Moz uses thumbs up and down and shows them, etc. I think their forums and Q&A are still quite strong.


05/30/2014 03:15 pm

There is no walking away from it? You mean you can't get up and leave your desk? You can't ignore a post? The internet is walked away from with the push of a button.

Michael Martinez

05/30/2014 06:37 pm

Abuse on the Internet continues whether you get up and leave your desk or not. And other people will see that abuse and mimic it regardless of whether you are pushing a button or not. So, NO, there is NO WALKING AWAY FROM IT.

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