Today, “like” buttons and similar mechanisms are ubiquitous. In principle, they can fill a good function, e.g. in giving users better opportunities to reach high-quality material. In practice, there are many flaws, including that:
They allow companies to build profiles on users, which can then be abused for advertising purposes.
They open the doors for manipulation through “like spamming”.
Valuable items that lack mass-appeal are even worse off than before.
“Helpful” tips of the “you may also like” kind often give very poor advice and also do damage through taking space and cluttering user interfaces.
Approval/disapproval is often expressed based on a superficial impression that does not match long-term preferences. (Where items like music are concerned, but not e.g. blog entries.)
The sheer amount of “like” buttons is so large that they start to become intrusive, trivial, and lacking in importance.
Looking at WordPress and its “like” button, it has been only a nuisance to me: Every time I receive a “like”, I also receive an annoying and user-despising email on the lines of “Congratulations! X liked your post! Now go check out what he writes—you may like it!”, which is just a PITA.
My recommendation: Boycott “like” buttons, disable them were possible, do not click on them when you see them, and let this insanity die out. (Obviously, if/once the number is reduced so far that they make sense again, there would be nothing wrong in using them.) If you really do like something, then spread the word instead: Write your own post with a link to a blog, tell your friends about that book/movie/song, recommend that new store/website, …
In WordPress, the setting that controls the like button is currently to be found under “settings/sharing” in the admin area.
Note: This post is partially a reaction to a recent “freshly pressed” post titled The Like-ification of 2011e.
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