Jan. 18, 2013, 4:38 p.m. EST
Commentary: A social-networking revolt may be coming
By John C. Dvorak
BERKELEY, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Why does anyone think that Facebook “likes” have any meaning whatsoever? To me, it’s the height of stupidity to ever click “like” or pay any attention to the idea that something has a lot of likes.
The thing is dinky and says “like.” It’s apparently a “like” button estranged from your Facebook Inc. /quotes/zigman/9962609/quotes/nls/fb FB -1.59% account that you are encouraged to click on. There is a diminutive “x” for those of you who have no intention of clicking “like” for a website you have yet to even view!
This to me is the height of idiocy about the whole phenomenon. Yes, let’s just like this or that randomly without meaning or intent, just because we can.
It makes useless the whole idea in the first place, but the addlebrained users of Facebook don’t seem to mind.
This is part of a bigger trend: the cheapening of the value of crowdsourcing. It’s now officially riding off the tracks.
LinkedIn Corp. /quotes/zigman/5131883/quotes/nls/lnkd LNKD -0.25% , for example, automatically promotes the idea of “endorsing” random strangers or connections that are hardly much more than people you’ve met.
LinkedIn keeps hounding users and demanding they endorse people. I have accumulated so many endorsements (since I have a large network) that it’s completely ridiculous. I have never asked for anyone to endorse anything, yet I have hundreds of endorsements and few, if any, are from people with whom I’ve worked.
I’m most amused that my top endorsement is for blogging. But I’m also endorsed for video editing; I don’t even do video editing anymore.
The way I see it, the entire LinkedIn system is a mockery of itself. Is this to trick the shareholders into thinking the site is successful? Is it to give its users some sense that things are popping?
The most problematic case seems to be Yelp Inc. /quotes/zigman/9021597/quotes/nls/yelp YELP +0.15% While I use the site consistently for backgrounders on places, mostly restaurants, I can see it going down the tubes if users started to horse around with the reviews.
For example, there is the Chicago Taco Bell that is flirting with becoming the city’s top-rated restaurant, now that Yelp users are hyping it up with five-star reviews. Many look to be tongue-in-cheek.
Here is a typical example: “We had a fantastic conversation with the lass that was working the window. I believe it involved Snoop Dogg references. … We pulled into a spot because we just didn’t see how a fast-food chain could get the order right on the first pass. Imagine our delight when we realized that they had nailed it! Following such a glorious experience, my now-husband and I decided to have Easter dinner here when we couldn’t get back home one year. Two thumbs up!” That’s a five-star review. Read Yelp reviews of Taco Bell on North Clybourn Ave.
My initial thought says that all crowdsourcing will naturally deteriorate, as people realize they are being exploited for someone else’s gain. But this stems from some liberal nonsense I may have learned in college.
People get bored and amuse themselves by promoting things such as a Taco Bell being the best restaurant in Chicago. Then it snowballs and the mechanism breaks.
As for the little “like” buttons I’m seeing on Web pages I have to click past? I hope it’s something that will drive people into a revolt against this whole social-networking scene. It’s more than a little annoying.