On Likes, Faves and Sharing

I’ve been thinking a little more about what Jack Baty wrote about the notion that likes on social networks should be private.

Jack suggests that likes (and faves, and hearts, and…) should be visible only to the “Like-or and the Like-ee”.

For the Like-or, Jack’s approach allows them to keep a list of things they have liked, and to send a vote of thanks to the author.

The Like-ee receives said vote of thanks[1].

Personally I like the first part — a list of the things I have favourited in a service like micro.blog would be a useful thing. If there was a JSON/RSS feed, or if I could use an API to do something with things I favourite with a service like IFTTT, then I could do useful thing with those Favourited items, such as:

  • add them to a link blog
  • add them to a bookmarking service like Pinboard
  • append the item to a note or next actions list

These are good uses of Likes and Favourites.

The second part — the vote of thanks — could be a good thing, if (and IMHO ony if) that aspect is private as Jack suggested.

The problem I am seeing is that many people put very little thought into Likes ’and Faves.

Clicking a link to Like or Favourite favourite takes a single second, and even less thought. People do it routinely, move on and often give no more thought whatsoever to the topic.

IMHO, the best way of registering thanks and supporting the efforts of the author is to take a few moments and to write a meaningful reply — perhaps in a comment, or better yet perhaps by making your own (micro) blog post — and linking back to the original.

What I am suggesting is to take mindful action, expressing what it is you like in a way that gives real feedback to the author.

Sharing is important, because as micro.blog user John Johnston mentioned, curation is important. One of my key personal uses of micro.blog at the moment is as a link blog for interesting things I’ve stumbled on across the web[2].

Sharing has the potential of increasing the audience for content by exposing it to your audience, hopefully leading to healthy discourse about content and the ideas behind it.

The mindless liking of ‘stuff’ has the potential of a dumbing down thinking. By liking and faving we may well only be providing mindless positive reinforcement, and avoiding critiquing stuff.

Lets face it, a lot of stuff that is being shared on the web really needs to be critiqued.

Ideas get better, and the world gets better, when we, collectively, are willing to deeply consider and develop ideas, share those ideas and be willing to receive honest and considered critique.

Its nice to receive positive feedback, but it may not be healthy to receive only positive feedback.

Ideas need to be shared, and ideas need to be challenged.

Micro.blog users Jean MacDonald and Shannon Hager have both recently on undertaking what Jean referred to as a ‘Like fast’.

I think this has potential — let’s stop mindlessly liking stuff, and mindfully replying to, critiquing and sharing ideas.

Starting with this post.


  1. Not on micro.blog, where at the moment favourites are visible only to the Like-or.
  2. Of course, it goes without saying that sharing an idea for discussion doesn’t mean endorsement…

Originally published at BalancedLight.