Does anyone actually like the "Likes" column?

(Adam Capriola) #1

I know the Likes column is easily removable with CSS (which I’ve done on my own Discourse install), but I think out of the box it might be smart to not show it. I don’t think it really provides crucial information and I prefer users to comment more and engage in discussion rather than “like” stuff as they’ve been trained to do by Facebook, so I don’t see a reason to put emphasis on the function.

I get that maybe it could give an indicator of the quality of conversation, but I think that’s a stretch. I typically look at the title, users, post count, and last activity to decide if a topic looks juicy enough to view.

Suggestion: display vote/like counter in main page
Right procedure to display likes (or anyother) column in the main page
(Dave McClure) #2

I like it. Especially here on meta, I think its usually a pretty good indicator of topic quality for topics that have a low post count…

(Jeff Atwood) #3

It is also a strong indicator of interest. Topics with dozens of posts and no likes, nobody really cares. Try browsing /top to see what I mean.

(probus) #4

I don’t like the likes column. Likes aren’t given to the topic, they are given to posts inside that topic so the column makes no sense. Likes usually have nothing to do with the quality of the topic. You can get a dozen likes on a short post dismissing the opening post of a stupid topic.

I couldn’t disagree more. We have lots of topics with dozens (hundreds) of posts with relatively few likes. To say that nobody cares is the same as saying nobody cares about anything in the whole community. And isn’t /top based on (among other things) how many likes a topic has?

(Adam Capriola) #5

I was just about to point that out. It seems like a self-fulfilling indicator.


I like it. It provides sentiment information. e.g. hot or contentious topics. The kind of topics my eyes like.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

I find the ratio of likes vs posts is kind of interesting. Consider just the last 12 topics on meta for example:

Just in the last 12 topics on latest, we have a range from 0.0 to 1.0. And any topic with a ratio of 1x, 2x, or higher of likes-to-posts is really on to something, e.g.

Just in the top five yearly, here are the ratios of likes-to-posts there:

  1. 1.4
  2. 3.7
  3. 5.4
  4. 3.2
  5. 3.2

Remember that in /top, views and posts (and implicitly, timeframe) are also factored in, not just likes.

(Adam Capriola) #25

I guess I can see the like count being more revealing on forums with higher activity. For smaller communities, I don’t know if it’s necessary to display because a significant amount of topics won’t have any likes and so that spot in the column becomes whitespace (which Discourse typically does a phenomenal job of minimizing). It makes the forum look less lively than it actually might be. Many of the latest forums listed in the directory topic are evidence of this:

It makes them look like ghost towns. (Some of them are, but the empty space accentuates this.) The display is easily customizable with CSS though so I’m not going to make a big push for change.

To me, this:

Looks way cleaner than this:

I think it’s partially the heart icon being distracting to me. Less numbers competing with each other too.


I had to look several times to figure out what the difference was. It seems minor to me. I can, however, see the value in customizing this in different places, depending on local culture with respect to Likes. When in Rome…

(Jeff Atwood) #35

I moved a post to a new topic: Simplifying the right side of the topic list

(Jeff Atwood) #36

One thing we could do is remove likes and combine the ratio of likes / posts to create a heatmap for the posts column, e.g.

  • topics with a likes-per-post ratio of 0.5 or better: warm
  • topics with a likes-per-post ratio of 1 or better: hot
  • topics with a likes-per-post ratio of 2 or better: supernova

Right now we have heatmaps on views, and coldmaps on activity (older dates are cold). Adding one more, to get rid of a column, would be OK by me and I think conveys slightly better information than the pure like count.

Likes column gone
(Sam Saffron) #37

I like this but I would still want to be able to sort by heat in some way.

(Jeff Atwood) #38

Technically /top already gives you a dedicated page for “sorting by heat”, even within categories, so not much would be lost.

(Adam Capriola) #39

That seems like a sensible solution to me, though I think the heatmap might end up being construed as “this topic has a lot of posts” rather than “this topic has a lot of likes.” I’m not sure it would be that apparent what is being conveyed. It would be inconsistent with what the other maps indicate. Pinkish colors could maybe be used instead of the reddish colors to help with this, but I don’t know if it would look good.

Also, there would probably need to be some kind of minimum posts and/or likes threshold for the topic before the heatmap activates.

(Jeff Atwood) #40

Definitely no topic under, say 10 posts, should get the post / likes heat map.

Consistency is overrated. Discoverability is what matters.

I really like this change because it gets rid of a column with a glyph in both Suggested Topics and Topic List, and displays more useful data in the ratio of posts to likes. The value of this ratio was the first thing I brought up in defending likes! The absolute number of likes is not that useful by itself, probably the least defensible column we show in the Topic List. That, I agree with.

Further simplifying the columns: quality score > view count
(Kris) #41

Yeah, it does make sense to get rid of likes… really it’s a bit misleading because people may hate the original post and like a response; and there’s no telling if it’s 1000 posts with 1 like or 1 post with 1000 likes… so on the topic level it’s pretty vague.

How would a heatmap column be displayed? Would it be a color-coded post count?

(Jeff Atwood) #42

It is not that vague since it is still extremely rare to have any one post really hit it out of the park with likes. Troll BBS for a while in the Top tab

As you can see, anything with a lot of likes is never because of a few massively liked posts, it is sheer volume of posts with 5 or 10 likes each. Or look at how rare the gold post badge is for 50 likes on a post. @sam originally set this to 100 and turned it down.

It would be heat mapped the same way views is, basically, with

  • 1.0x ratio - warm
  • 2.0x ratio - hot
  • 3.0x+ ratio - supernova

And not applied at all until a topic has at least 10 posts in it.

(FichteFoll) #43

I’m not sure if you’re already considering this, but a counting any user who liked or posted in a topic as a “participating user” and using that for a metric could provide some hotness indicator as well, while also considering a posts/likes ratio.

(Jeff Atwood) #44

OK this is now live. See what we think of it.

Initial reaction, I’m surprised how many topics have a likes ratio of 1.0x.

Likes column gone
(Adam Capriola) #45

Neat! I didn’t expect to see this implemented so quickly. It’s subtle, but I think in due time the heat will become more noticeable. :fire: