Noticed that YouTube has announced that they are disabling the routine ‘dislike’ feature on videos after an experiment. It turns out, if you don’t get to see the dislike count, you tend to be less likely to register your own dislike. In other words, counts tend to prompt certain responses. Their test allowed people to still rate a dislike but not to see how many others had, and consequently the number of dislike ratings dropped. Of course, we have to assume there is no interaction effect and that the videos in the test were representative of the type that often attract negative ratings, but what it suggests is that people are indeed more likely to rate if they see others have done so. This might account for some of the ‘piling’ on we see of some videos. See https://support.google.com/youtube/thread/134791097/update-to-youtube-dislike-counts?hl=en
Am reminded of my son’s early experience sharing a gaming video he proudly made. He let a few friends know and the initial low views and kind feedback soon gave way to a torrent of abuse from obviously older and mean-spirited types who slammed them. He was rather shaken by the experience and despite my encouragement, ended up taking the videos down. I remember him asking me, with all the hard-won wisdom of someone far greater than any eight year old should possess, ‘Why are people on the internet so mean?’ I still ask myself.