Introducing the ‘No thanks’ button

May072012

We’ve launched a new feature: the “No thanks” button.

We’ve had the “Thanks” button next to comments and posts for a while now, and it generally does a good job of two things: giving contributors positive reinforcement and giving casual readers a quick way of spotting highly rated comments.

But as our community has grown — especially in Chicago, where we have the most users of our 16 cities — we’ve had to deal with the inevitable bad apples. You know the type: people who are nonconstructive, overly rude and just plain unneighborly. These people spoil the experience for everybody.

So the new “No thanks” button is a way for you to anonymously voice your concern about those sorts of posts. Click it whenever you see something that’s rude, mean-spirited or nonconstructive. (Importantly, don’t click on it when you merely disagree with something. This is about identifying unneighborly posts, not disagreeing. Healthy debate is good.) It’s anonymous, so that you can make your opinion known without risking retribution.

When a comment gets a bunch of “No thanks,” we’ll send an email to the commenter, and the comment will automatically hidden from the list of comments, with an option to expand it. Here’s what that looks like:

Screenshot of site

Neighbor messages/events can also be “No thanked,” but we’re still figuring out the best way to handle hiding those. For now, neighbor messages with a lot of “no thanks” remain on the site.

Additionally, comments now get a grey, green or white counter, depending on whether they have more thanks or no thanks. We’re hoping this helps people quickly scan comment threads for particularly good comments:

Screenshot of site

(For those of you who are familiar with our old “Report” feature, you’ll notice that it’s gone now. We figured it would be overkill to have “Report” and “No thanks.”)

We soft-launched the “No thanks” feature late on Friday, and dozens of unneighborly comments have already been collapsed due to many “No thanks.” At the same time, there’s been some healthy discussion about the feature, which we’ve been reading and reacting to. (As an aside, it’s made us realize that we don’t have a great place for EveryBlock users to talk about the site itself, so we’re looking into ways of providing that.) I’m sure we’ll be tweaking behavior over time, so that we can ensure people are using “No thanks” in a productive way.

Overall, keeping the community productive and neighborly is one of our top priorities. We definitely don’t want to create a saccharine, Disneyland sort of site where everybody’s always happy and nobody ever complains — in fact, giving neighbors a platform to identify neighborhood problems and work on solving them is one of the things our site is best at. But, at the same time, we don’t want to turn into a cesspool of rants and rudeness. There’s a fine line between keeping out bad apples and encouraging freedom of expression. We’re determined to find it.

UPDATE, May 21: How it’s going

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