Who Presses Thumbs Down on YouTube Videos?

Have you ever pressed the “thumbs down” button on a YouTube video?

Every now and then I happen to glance at the thumbs up/thumbs down ratios on random videos I’m watching, and I’m almost always surprised to see some number of thumbs down, even on videos that aren’t in the least controversial.

Like, I was just watching a rules video for a game. It has 7 thumbs down. Were those people trying to say that the video wasn’t effective at teaching the rules?.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever clicked the thumbs down button on a YouTube video. There are certainly videos I didn’t enjoy and videos I disagreed with, but for videos that would offend me to the point that I’d feel justified in thumbs downing them, I wouldn’t seek them out to watch in the first place.

A big part of it, of course, is that I create content–on YouTube and otherwise–and while I don’t always agree with other people, I respect the time they put into creating their content. For that reason, I almost wish there was a button that meant, “I respectfully disagree, but I appreciate you taking the time for sharing your opinion.” Perhaps that’s how some people use the thumbs-down button.

If you ever click “thumbs down” on a YouTube video, what motivates you to do that (instead of simply not watching the video, doing nothing, or leaving a comment)? I’m genuinely curious–maybe there’s something I’m missing here.

26 thoughts on “Who Presses Thumbs Down on YouTube Videos?”

  1. I have no idea what the Thumbs Down button does. I kind of assumed it influenced the recommendation algorithm? Like if you hit Thumbs Down, it means “please don’t show me this video anymore in autoplay”. That’s the context in which I’ve used the Thumbs Down button, but I’ve only done it rarely. TBH I’m not sure how I got the idea that that’s what it does, though.

  2. IMO it’s for exactly that, videos you didn’t enjoy, disagreed with, had content that upset you, etc. It’s hard to know what the content of every video is, so it’s not always easy to avoid watching a video that might make you upset or that you disagree with until you watch it. It’s kind of like the star reviews on Amazon. When I check a product, I always read the 1 star reviews to see if they are credible or not, then I’ll read the highest review and decide from there. The thumbs on a video are kind of like a star rating system in that you can decide based on the thumbs up or thumbs down before you decide to watch the video.

    I think another good question is, how often do you thumbs up a video? For me it’s nothing like giving a thumbs up on Facebook. My thumbs up on Facebook applies to most things posted by friends. I reserve my thumbs up on YouTube for something that really inspired, makes me laugh, is very creative, or is very helpful.

    • That’s a great question. I typically thumbs up a video if I like it enough to want to watch or share it later (YouTube saves a list of all of your liked videos).

    • I just watched a beautiful wood-working videos on youtube which showed how a person made a beautiful curved bench. Except for the laborious work and creative design that he exhibited, there were absolutely nothing that would deserved a thumb-down. Still, in addition to 39K likes the videos still had some 900 thumb-downs. I don’t get it – does this mean people don’t believe that this video is real, or what?

      • I realize this is a few years old but I’ll answer anyway.
        You didn’t give the link to the video so my answer is general purpose.
        I automatically give a thumbs down on any video that:

        Had ads or the person in the video promotes a product.
        The video demonstrates or recommends unsafe practices.
        The person is not really knowledgeable about the subject.
        The person expresses views that are not related to the the subject of the video.
        The subject does not match the title of the video. (Click Bait)
        Very poor editing or sound quality.
        The person loves to hear themselves talk. (Ten seconds of information dragged out for ten minutes.)

        There are probably more reasons but that’s all I can think of at the moment.
        We don’t get to say why or any kind of rating, all we can do is give a thumbs up or down.

        • Hi Steve,

          Curious why a video with ads gets an automatic thumbs down? Filming and editing a video is very time consuming, and in some cases expensive. Having ads in the video helps to fund the efforts.

          I’m curious what your rate of thumbs up vs thumbs down is? In my opinion, it would be better to leave a comment about what you don’t like about the video, instead of just a thumbs down that could literally mean anything, or really nothing at all.

  3. I know a lot of familys that share accounts. Mom watches scrapbooking tutorials, younger son doesn’t want to see them suggested so they give them a thumbs down to make them show up less. Stuff like that.

    As for me, I fallow some channels that have a last cast of creators, so I’m used the thumbs down when I thought one of them was doing a poor job. But not often.

    The button is there for a reason. But I think a lot pf them are pressed just because no one else has, so “first” as the internet loves to scream.

  4. I once pressed a thumbs down on a game review video. It was for one of my game designs and it wasn’t a negative review as such, but;

    1/ It got the rules fundamentally wrong, indicating that it hadn’t been played.
    2/ It used a form of words which were identical to sections of a Rahdo video which had been posted previously
    3/ He says that I have spoken to the reviewer and quoted me as saying that it was a ‘Beer & Pretzels’ game to play whilst getting drunk. I’d never made such comments and it isn’t.
    4/ They got the publishing company name wrong.

    All of this was reported to the reviewer in a comprehensive e-mail but the video remains in place and unchanged.

  5. I think the only things I’ve “Thumbs down” on have been videos that Youtube has suggested to me, that having watched (or at least started to watch) are things that I actually have low interest in and/or are “clickbait”/devoid of content. Using the thumbsdown button should (in theory) help the Youtube algorithms know not to give me things like that again.

    • There are other controls in the … that say “don’t show me content like this again.” That’s different from thumbs down, which I take to mean comments on the quality or accuracy or even morality of the video itself. I don’t want a lot of crocheting videos to show up in my recommendations, but I’m sure they’re great videos. Most of the time I use the subscriptions tab, which shows me only channels I’m subscribed to. That eliminates the need for “the bell” too.

  6. I do not thumb down based on whether I agree with the opinion expressed in the video or not. Actually, while I remain neutral (i.e. no vote) on most board game reviewer content I tend to thumb up reviews that I disagree with but that are well articulated and that give me valuable insights.

    I thumb down when I feel that a video does not deliver what it promised, if it’s done badly, I feel betrayed, or in general if I consider it a “bad service”.


    – for board game reviews: non-well articulated criticism/praise or very heavily biased reviews
    – bad production; occasional field recordings or mobile streaming is fine, but if the message suffers (e.g. very bad sound; disturbing camera movement or cuts) I thumb down
    – advertisement disguised as editorial content
    – clickbaity title and then the question is not answered or hidden in a lot of junk (ok, usually I avoid those initially, but sometimes it happens)
    – x-isms in content that is clearly not satirical (racism, sexism, etc.)

    I don’t think I ever thumbed-down a rules video, but if it contains major errors (or falls into one of the mentioned categories), I could imagine doing it.

  7. I’ve always wondered the same thing Jamey. The best I could come up with is there may be a host of reasons people thumb down a video. For example: they don’t like the content creator, what the content creator is wearing, or what they said. Maybe they don’t like the set design of the video studio. Maybe the video itself is too long or too short. Maybe it’s the video quality. Maybe it’s about the actual content or even the publisher of the game. It could be they don’t like the designer of the game is the art or what the game is about – like the theme or gameplay. It’s good to think on these things to improve but not good to dwell on them for too long. 🙂

  8. I’m not adding value here, but just wanted to say that I agree. I’ve never felt motivated to downlike anything. I wish viewers would have made the effort to tell me what they were thinking so I could have discussed, rather than just giving me negative reinforcement, because who needs that, ever? Booo. A very silly button in my opinion!

  9. I never take any action on YouTube but I have often wondered the same thing. Now that you’ve posed the question, it occurs to me that I may do an actual thumbs down if it was hate speech (whatever that may be, racist, sexist, etc) just to help express that their spreading hate is not ok with me. It may not do anything to change their actions but that’s where I can see myself doing it, especially if lots of others are thumbs upping.

  10. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever hit the Thumbs Down button ever. I always associated it with a means by which of ‘sticking it to’ the creator of the video. A sort of ‘middle finger’ to this creator you don’t like. I started watching YouTube as a consumer of video games. If a publisher did something heinous like ridiculous crunch or firing someone who left work during crunch to attend the birth of their child. You’d see those videos get flooded with Thumbs Down. Or if some organized protest or another decided someone did something awful, you’d see them get flooded with Thumbs Downs. Review bombing, etc.

    I’ve noticed my videos getting them too. I try not to think about them too much. I think it helps that I’m realistic in my assessment of my own ability. I’m sure some of them are legitimate. Maybe some of them are just ‘fat fingering’ the rating because they’re close. There are some people who seem to post a video and there’s just an immediate Thumbs Down. I figure those people just have ‘haters’. And I guess that’s one way to know you’ve made it? Maybe? 😊

  11. Today I actually down voted something for the first time in my life. I generally try to be a very positive person and understanding of differences but this video stood out to me as something so entirely negative that it was worth a down voted. I also commented to express why I down voted it though. It was on a boardgaming related video. The specific reason I down voted it was because I felt that it was disingenuous. The content creator was sharing a video of a game prototype, and trash talking the component quality of the game. However at no point in the video did he mention the game was a preproduction prototype and not the final quality. I happen to know it from discussions with the designer before the video had come out that he had sent a prototype to this creator. I also know he spoke with the creator and informed him it was a preproduction copy and not the final quality. It was the reason I originally watched the video actually. The video was so incredibly negative and downright dismissive that I don’t regret pressing it either. I understand as a content creator that differing opinions occur, but I also feel it should be a priority to share information honestly and accurately. I had no problem that this creator disagreed with my opinion, but the way he shared information just seemed dishonest, and frankly rude.

    The reason I clicked the down voted AND commented is I think as a visual to perspective viewers that visual indicator is something we notice and it will draw our eyes to the comment section.

  12. Is this really even a question? It’s simple buttons to let youtube know if you like a video or dislike a video. Nothing more nothing less. In fact, if you highlight the buttons, they say “I like this” “I dislike this”.
    Where did you get the idea, that you must be offended by something to dislike it?

    “There are certainly videos I didn’t enjoy”. Okay, so you didn’t enjoy a video, so you did not like it…..
    If only they had a way to convey the fact that you didn’t enjoy the video, oh hey lookie there, a dislike button!.

    You either like something, dislike it, are neutral about it. Plain and simple.
    Since you were in your moms womb, you already were evaluating whether or not you like or dislike everything subconsciously. You don’t stick your fingers in your eyeball because you dislike it. The reason for disliking it, is because it hurts.

    “Like, I was just watching a rules video for a game. It has 7 thumbs down. Were those people trying to say that the video wasn’t effective at teaching the rules?”
    No, no they weren’t at all. They were saying they dislike the video, that’s it. If someone dislikes it enough that they choose to indulge about why they disliked it, that is what the comment box is for.

  13. A practical/technical answer would be that disliking videos is a way to provide feedback, hopefully resulting in less such videos in your YouTube feed. As such, a thumbs-down is directed at YouTube’s algorithm more than the maker of a particular video. I myself have also only in the most offensive cases felt compelled to let a content creator know I dislike a video, just like in real life I feel little inclination to tell people with traits I find disagreeable what I really think of them – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything pretty much sums up my attitude, and in general I’d rather just avoid such people than get into a potentially nasty personal conflict. And yet in our increasingly volatile online culture, this kind of ‘politically correct’ politeness seems on its way out – the anonymity of the medium allows users to drop all pretence of civility or constructive criticism and straight roast anyone and anything they don’t like. In real life, you learn soon enough that freely expressing every nasty or contrarian feeling won’t win you any popularity contests – a large part of what’s called socialisation is learning to keep a lid on your antagonistic tendencies. But online, without the risk of verbal altercations escalating to physical violence, many feel compelled to do just that. So yes, I would posit that disliking videos isn’t just a practical way of orchestrating your feed, but ties in to an online culture of eroding civility and ever-lower thresholds for expressing discontent.

  14. I usually thumbs down either on videos that I find downright abhorrent and disgusting that I think nobody should ever see, OR if it’s a channel I regularly watch, I use that as a means of telling them if I didn’t like a certain video as much.

    Like for instance, I watch a gaming channel that is usually awesome and hilarious, but every once in a while they try a new style of video, or start bashing religion or getting too into gross, sexual topics that I don’t like, so I give it a thumbs down. It’s not super personal or mean, in my opinion. It just tells them that one person didn’t really care for this, and as a creator myself, I know that if a video gets enough dislikes, I probably won’t do that type of video again, because I can see that my subscribers didn’t really enjoy it as much as my other content.

    I think it can be helpful as a creator, so I personally wouldn’t say you should feel bad about downvoting a video you didn’t care for. And if it’s a creator you watch often and really enjoy, a nice comment saying “hey, I love your videos, but I didn’t really enjoy this one as much because ______” can also go a long way.

  15. Oh, or clickbait! I ALWAYS dislike videos that say they are going to talk about one thing and don’t talk about that thing at all. It’s a waste of my time if you tell me you’re going to answer the question I’m needing answers, and then you just totally don’t follow through at all. That’s always going to get a dislike from me.

  16. I thumbs down extreme anti social and toxic behaviour, especially where it looks like the channel is trying to game the system to take advantage of people or incite hatred. eg “psychics” who say viewers are “cursed” and need to send them money to be freed from it otherwise their children will die. “Gurus” who teach boys how to trap, abuse and rape women while ringing up their cash register with the money of followers who can’t work out why they’re being “picked on” by security and police all the time. Or people on a national security watch list who post personal information about victims or witnesses in court encoraging viewers to harass them. All of which I see on a regular basis, for me thumbs down is calling it out and hopefully sinking the content in search until it gets removed. I’ll also thumbs down empty content or monetised stolen copyright material that diverts peoples attention from genuine content, no one likes having their time wasted or their online presence hijacked. It still amazes me how many channels there are where if the people in the videos did what they’re doing online in public would be beat up or locked up, youtube really sucks at applying the standards we live by in the offline world and I’m surprised they haven’t been sued more.

  17. I use them as indicators for many things, but one I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned is this: To let me know if I’ve watched a video before, and if I liked it or not. For some categories of content, this is not relevant. But for music (I listen to a LOT of music. And this especially helps with songs that I think are in poor taste), old classic films, or topics that I come back to every few years, I can know that “Oh, yes….I remember I thought that would be interesting before, but I turned out not to care for it.”

    So, that’s just one more.

    To be fair, when I was a teenager, I felt guilty to ever dislike a video, but I came to view the indication as a tool for myself.

    I am still more cautious when the video falls into the category of being a person’s personal story or from a small channel. I just think it probably hurts more, or may discourage someone, and unless it is offensive or some other meaningful adjective – I don’t want to do that to a person, just so that I can leave a convenience marker to my future self that I didn’t really care for their style.

    I hope you’re doing okay these days…take care.

  18. Thumb up to this post.I have been wondering about the same and why people gives thumbs down when other millions gives thumb up to a video. Why do they watch it.They have to select what they like it.Putting thumbs down just discouraging even to a pop star.If million others give thumbs up and those give thumbs up must have under gone down in their lives. Not a possitive person won’t do this. Atleast they must write boldly why they gave thumbs down. I won’t evn give thumbs down to those thumbs down Hahaha. But most big shot artists won’t bother by thumbs down I hope.

    PLEASE IF YOU GIVE thumbs down, think twice Andy write the reason so people could rectify their mistakes which shown by you(you must be qualified also).


Leave a Reply

Discover more from jameystegmaier.com

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading