The short answer? No one’s really sure yet; at least, not outside of YouTube. There are good theories about the likes and dislikes built into YouTube, though, and it’s likely that the two buttons do impact the visibility of a content piece. More importantly, we think these buttons might impact visibility and propagation of future content from the same channel. Our sponsored gamers can use this info to increase content visibility.
The likes and dislike buttons have long been hypothesized to increase video exposure simply by driving more user engagement. To YouTube, “engagement” is the amount a particular user interacts with a content piece beyond viewing it. This is active engagement, not passive. Active engagement includes commenting and liking or disliking a video.
Although they may not affect video exposure directly (e.g., some algorithm that says “more likes = more views”), the buttons probably – we think – affect how frequently a channel re-appears for a user. We think that users who like video content more frequently from specific channels will be more likely to see that content again. This could be through cookies in the browser, if no user account exists, or through user account preferences and tracking. This may even be more powerful than raw subscriptions, in some cases; the greater distribution of likes to one channel, we think the more likely that channel is to appear in both the recommended sidebar and the home page recommendations.
Dislikes, then, would theoretically reduce the likelihood of a particular content creator (or video type) from appearing again in the sidebar and home page.
“Like begging” is a little extreme. We’re not sure that YouTube actually cares about the raw number of likes a video gets. What might matter is the likes/dislikes distribution on a per-user basis. It’s worth receiving likes, but asking for them (especially in a forward or lengthy manner) is likely not necessary to succeed.
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