Should we include a "Disagree" reaction?

If you’d done that, we’d have missed out on the second part of your comment; you wouldn’t have shared your perspective, and I wouldn’t have a chance to respond to it.

All posts have the same reactions available. Why is that unfair? You can write out your reasons for disagreeing, like you did, and then people can ‘like’ whoever’s post they agree with more.

Yes, omitting “Disagree” takes away one way for people to communicate… but that’s a good thing, because just saying you disagree is a bad way of communicating.


It’s the Trump style of argument: just drown out the other person with the strength of conviction/stubbornness. That’s not the style of communication we want to promote here.

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Agreement/Disagreement isn’t a form of verbal/textual communication. That does not make it “bad” communication. There are situations where simple feedback is fine either way. Not agreeing does not have to be constructive in all cases.

What do you expect when 10 people react to this statement:

“Chocolate ice cream is the best.”

5 Likes and 5 new posts that constructively go into detail about how their perception of taste turns out to produce other results?
If you like chocolate most - good for you! I’m just being a social justice warrior for all the Vanilla- and Strawberry-People out there!!!

“Chocolate ice cream is the best.”

Ehh, I’m more of a vanilla person, myself.

Someone can make a reply as simple as mine, above. If you like vanilla, ‘like’ that one. If chocolate, ‘like’ the first.

I’m seeing really minimal gain in a niche situation (idle banter) compared to much larger harm in serious conversations/arguments.

What if I’m into Strawberry?

Oh I know! I have to reply on BOTH earlier posts!!! :star_struck:

I’ve already acknowledged there’s some benefit to being able to “Disagree”. But that benefit seems mostly limited to conversations that are already relatively devoid of substance. (I might also add, in the scenario you describe, “Condolences” could double up as a disagree button, in a non-problematic way in this case).

Meanwhile, there are significant downsides in the more in-depth/serious conversations — which are the type I’d prefer to encourage, anyway; conversations without much substance should be limited to the Winter Lodge, anyway.

Is there a phrase for this?

I feel like there’s a phrase for the meaning I’m trying to convey, here. It’s like the opposite of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Instead of losing something major in an attempt to get rid of a minor inconvenience, it’s adding something that brings marginal benefits and major inconveniences.

“Pyrrhic victory” and “cure is worse than the disease” come close, but aren’t quite right. Apparently there’s a Swedish phrase along the lines of, “Like fighting house rats with hand grenades”, which is more what I’m trying to get at.

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I would expect reasons against a “Disagree” to be a good argument , not the absence of enough reasons for it. Substance has nothing to do with the availability of both options.
Any statement can be be phrased negated and would result in the opposite reactions. Any “Agree” can very easily become a “Disagree”, depending on the statement.

What would be those? I can only see how the implications of any agree/disagree tooling just grow with the importance of the conversation. Including the lack of a “disagree” button.

That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make! Disagreeing without making a good argument is just shutting down the discussion. Imagine if I just left a “disagree” on the quoted post instead of writing a response. That’s the downside.

I don’t think binary feedback shuts down any serious discussion at all.
Similarly agreeing without making a good argument does not advance the discussion either.

Disagreement does not automatically expanded if it is not an clickable option. Nobody is trying to make any argument by clicking any button, let alone a good one.

I consider this to be just some sort of poll that gives a vague picture towards what direction the majority is leaning. Giving only the agreeing side a voice is bizarrely biased, and a true downside.

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If everyone’s in agreement, there’s nothing left to discuss. If we both thought “Disagree” shouldn’t exist, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation.

This is only true in the very narrow context of a single post; in the context of the whole conversation, including both buttons is biased towards disagreement. Consider again the scenario of a feature request / bug report. Someone had to put in the effort of explaining
why they think it’s valuable. Why should someone who disagrees not have to do the same?

…which is a bad thing. Emphasizing community sentiment encourages groupthink and is harmful to thoughtful and civilized discussion. Votes in either direction bias people towards/against the post, regardless of its merit; downvotes in particular can be discouraging and drive away unpopular voices, creating an echo chamber and a false sense of consensus.

So, why include a "like" reaction at all?

Showing support for a post does have some value. For example, receiving a bunch of +1’s on a feature suggestion or bug report suggests that we should prioritize it. In contrast, -1’s don’t mean much without an argument behind them. It’s hard to address concerns if you don’t know what they are.

There’s also a couple things minimizing the negative impact, making it a better trade-off:

  • Reactions don’t affect post visibility. (they might affect the “Top” sorting, but that’s not the default)
  • They’re shown at the bottom of the post, so people don’t see them until after reading.
  • Having only one reaction weakens the effect, since each person can only project half the influence.
  • “Like” is the less harmful reactions, to whatever extent promoting popular opinions is less harmful than silencing minority opinions.

I consider reactions to be a quick way for people to give feedback on a post — particularly the type of short feedback that would otherwise clutter the thread (some people there have since taken my advice; that issue used to be even longer).

Github (ab)uses :+1: and :-1: for pseudo-polling, but that’s because they don’t have proper polls. We do.

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That is my point. Absent any proper argumentation (neither pro nor contra) there isn’t any change to be expected.

How so?
Your example compares posting vs. using a button. This is about people using buttons. But even in your example I think the poster would have the advantage of having the only expressed opinion on the matter.

You are right about -1 not being able to clearly relate to a particular position. -1 by nature is only a negation and does not come with its own position. (That is why I wouldn’t argue it is more important than +1).

But I see great merit in taking a position that just consists of not confirming another position (e.g. atheism). You should not be forced to “earn” your right to criticism by having to phrase an entire post, or “wait” until somebody with a similar enough mindset does, so that you can finally, and officially “agree” to it.

If a post is something I don’t agree on and lots of other people do, I want to be able to voice my disagreement (as “useless” as it may seem to you) in the same way others may be “cheering” for it.

I understand you want that, but giving users everything they want is not what I’m designing for. What matters is encouraging civil discussions where ideas can flourish based on their merit. People might want to stand on the sidelines naysaying, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for this forum.

If you want to convince me that a “Disagree” button is a good idea, you need to explain how downvotes add enough value to counteract the echo chamber effect they create.

For example, the most common argument I’ve seen for downvotes, on forums where they affect post/comment visibility, is they allow the community to filter out low quality posts without moderator intervention. (Of course, that doesn’t apply here since “Disagree” wouldn’t affect sorting, not to mention it turns out not to be true in practice, anyway).

I could imagine a disagree button that prompted the user to consider posting an optional explanation of their disagreement (in addition or instead of disagreeing)… This could be made in a new Discourse plugin…

I think the labeling and semantic meaning here are relevant. If we had a word that somehow captured disagreement without the negative effects, I think the purely informational value of people disagreeing is, in principle, worthwhile.

In practice, I find @smichel17’s concerns well-put in terms of priorities. In any trade-off, we want to err toward what supports the healthiest communication, considering what we know about all the ways people easily let discussions go wrong (even among people like us who know one another and consciously work to communicate well!)

So, I agree that a “disagree” or similar reaction would need to somehow overcome those negatives (or the worries shown to somehow not apply) to be worth including.

Glad we can always post actual polls when we want to register approval/disapproval of anything (and, obviously, post actual text replies to express disagreement otherwise).

Could you clarify these points? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

It’s about people having a conversation or argument. I don’t understand why you think it makes any sense to narrow down the context to look at only the buttons.

I don’t. Can you elaborate?

Why not? You had to “earn” your right to agree with the original post by writing it, or waiting until somebody with a similar enough mindset does.

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To clarify: you mean the way to simply disagree without posting is to click “agree” on someone else’s post that expresses disagreement with an earlier post. Makes sense to me!

First, you should probably read this:

That’s why Discourse ships with the button labeled :heart: / Like instead of labeled :+1: / Agree. There’s no obvious opposite to :heart: like there is to :+1:, so you’re not going to immediately wish you had one. Also, I can “like” something without obviously “agreeing” with it, like “I just shipped my version 1.0 / I agree”, means that I’m acknowledging that it happened, as opposed to “I just shipped version 1.0 / I like”, where it obviously means that you think 1.0 is awesome.

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Thanks for the added perspective. We basically have already concluded as much and are anti-down-vote (and read posts like that on Discourse meta too).

We’re deciding what limited set of reactions to have via Retort, and this was part of that brainstorm. But we should maybe just close this as we’re pretty decided against any “disagree” reaction.

We do plan to have basic acknowledge and love type reactions in the limited set discussed at that Retort reactions thread above.