On Micro.blog there’s a debate about whether Likes are harmful.

Some of my observations from the thread, all in favor of Likes.

  • The Like button on various systems is a way of acknowledging that you saw something and thought it was noteworthy. Since micro.blog doesn’t have a Like button, what’s the proper way of saying that?

  • As a person who writes posts that get zero response here (and not on other systems) I wish people had a less-committed way of saying they saw something I wrote. That would be a little bit of feedback where currently I get none.

  • If I see something on Micro.blog that I would Like on another system, I don’t comment, I just do nothing, not because I’m bashful or overly quiet, rather because this is a language, and a comment has different meaning from a Like.

  • In face-to-face conversation there’s all kinds of non-verbal communication. you can nod your head, smile. We’ve come up with a similar language online, I don’t think there’s any more meaning in this. We’re being human. Not a huge surprise.

  • Here’s a parallel. My TV doesn’t have a brightness control. It’s an expensive screen, and I imagine that the designers of the system figured “we have a computer in this that knows how to automatically adjust brightness based on room light.” But it doesn’t work properly, I don’t know what the problem is, but there are times the TV is useless because you just can’t see what’s on the screen, because the lack of a brightness control. Maybe if TVs never had brightness controls I wouldn’t miss it, but they do in my mind, require one. Same thing here. Like is something that’s part of the language of social media. To try to deny that at this stage is kind of pointless imho.

  • I’ve been in this position myself in the past, trying to buck a larger trend, and the pressure really does get you to support the common way, the sooner you do it, the sooner the pain goes away.

BTW, “considered harmful” is borrowed from a famous letter by Edsger Dijkstra entitled “goto statement considered harmful.”