In the world of online communities, there exists a harsh binary of emotional feelings. Either you “Like” it or you don’t. It’s your “favorite” or it’s not. Upvote or Downvote. To “Heart” or not to “Heart”?
Bookmarklet and link-shortening website Bitly is trying to expand the emotional range of link recommendations with its new beta product Bitly for Feelings. Instead of a traditional bit.ly shortlink, Bitly for Feelings creates a link with different feelings attached to it.
A funny post could be recommended with lolthis.me, or an article that someone dislikes could be linked with oppos.es or loath.es. It’s a quick shorthand that enables users to get their opinions on a link across without exposition. It’s ideal for people on Twitter who don’t have the space to say “I don’t know what I’m looking at…” or “I disagree because….”
While giving users a short list of easily identifiable feelings to describe their reactions towards things on the internet seems like a good thing, it’s also a lot more work than just tacking on an emoticon. In its current beta version there aren’t any visual reinforcements to confirm a particular reaction after a link is clicked — a loath.es leads directly to the article, meaning that others would have to recognize that the link alone means that the poster didn’t enjoy the site. There is also no room for conversation after the fact, so peers can’t post their differing reactions. Interaction stops once the link is clicked.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Bitly for Feelings is its noticeable lack of integration with any traditional Bitly bookmark services. It relies on its own separate bookmark, no plug-in, to run. It also doesn’t show up in the bitmark list with a feeling — which would be helpful to know at a glance of your link list.
These are all issues that could get ironed out in the long run, provided there is an audience for this kind of sharing.
It’s possible, of course, that humans prefer the simplicity of a yea or nay — and don’t want to deal with the messiness of all those in-between emotions.