University Marketing & Communications

September 9, 2013

The power of the thumbs up

Elise Perachio

The New York Times recently ran an article about research that shows positive comments on websites attract more attention and engagement than negative ones. The article revolves around an experiment in which the researchers randomly changed the ratings of comments submitted on a website that anonymously participated in the experiment. “…right after each comment was made, it was given an arbitrary up or down vote, or — for a control group — left alone. Reflecting a tendency among the site’s users to provide positive feedback, about twice as many of these arbitrary initial votes were positive: 4,049 to 1,942.

“The first person reading the comment was 32 percent more likely to give it an up vote if it had been already given a fake positive score. There was no change in the likelihood of subsequent negative votes. Over time, the comments with the artificial initial up vote ended with scores 25 percent higher than those in the control group.”

Our thanks to Catherine Shen, director of communications at the UW School of Public Health, for passing along this article to us.

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