An idea for more meaningful ‘like’ buttons

The inadequacies of the various ‘like’ buttons that appear all over the web have been noted before, but a post from Ed Walker tonight inspired me to mock up an idea I’ve had for a simple way to bring some more semantic meaning to these buttons. Ed says:

What is the recommended button there for? The equivalent of a Facebook like? A chance to show you appreciate the story, the author or the subject?

I’ve spotted a trend on WalesOnline, whenever we report the death of a young person [...] we don’t get comments (very rarely) but we do get a lot of recommendations. Constantly in the most recommended lists, knocking rugby stars and political debates down a peg or two. Facebook is for posting the RIP messages and joining groups expressing your sorrow, sharing that grief with your friends, but local media sites are the way to show the wider world (outside of the Facebook login) that the death of a friend/relative is important to the community.

It seems in the case of the death of young people it’s a way of showing you care. It says to us as editors that you think this story is important, you’re showing us it should be high up the news list and it should be featured.

(via Generation grief: A modern way of letting go – edwalker.net)

The use of the word ‘recommend’ in this example isn’t as inappropriate as ‘like’ would be, but it still doesn’t express why a reader is recommending a page.

NBC New York have a good way of extracting something a little more specific:

TED also offer some even more meaningful ways of expressing your opinion of their videos, and even let you search their content by these tags:

YouTube offers like and dislike buttons, but that still creates ambiguity. For example, on videos showing the aftermath of the recent New Zealand earthquakes I witnessed confusion in the comments as to what it meant when people liked or disliked the video. Do you like the efforts of the uploader, or do you dislike the devastation you are seeing?

I think my suggestion takes the best of these approaches, and simplifies it so a reader doesn’t have to spend even a second being any more specific than they want to be. Your page has a ‘recommend’ button, which you can simply click to provide a neutral recommendation.

Alternatively, you can expand the button to display a more specific opinion. 

This would make a neat WordPress plugin. You would want options to customise these buttons per site and per post (in the example of the tragic deaths reported on WalesOnline, you would probably want to remove the ‘funny’ option, for example).

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