Use GitHub reactions, delete +1 comments

14 Nov 2016

On GitHub Issues, +1 comments are a quick way for people to add their individual support. But for contributors, they are menacing. Each +1 acts like a drip pinging in the dead of night, reminding you of that leaky faucet that still isn't fixed.

After the community called out GitHub on +1 comments, GitHub implemented reactions. Reactions are a nice stop-gap feature. Not only could reactions fill in for +1 comments, but they could provide a wider range of responses — approval, disapproval, happiness, celebration, confusion, affection.

I have since experimented with requesting reactions, asking people to add a reaction to show their interest in the issue. See Masonry#873 - Maintain left-to-right order and Packery#353 - Add back drag / fit packing behavior from v1.

Masonry#873

Masonry#873 has been wildly successful with this strategy, gaining 71 thumbs-up reactions and no +1 comments. Packery#353 has had lesser success with 40 reactions, but several +1 comments continue to pop up.

I believe the problem deals with social proof. Packery#353 already had +1 comments in its thread, added before GitHub implemented reactions. Users scroll through the thread, see a couple +1 comments, and feel okay adding their own as others have done.

Meanwhile, Masonry#873 never had a +1 comment to begin with. The reactions have the social proof, so people continue to use reactions.

Going forward, I will continue to request people use reactions, but also make it clear that +1 comments will be deleted. My instructions look something like:

If you would like to see this feature added, please add a 👍 reaction to this issue.

Do not add a "+1" comment — they will be deleted. Use reactions instead. Subscribe to this issue using the button in the sidebar.

Reactions carry the intent of +1 comments, but they do not subscribe users to the issue like comments do. So I point to using the subscribe button.

You know the faucet is leaky. Now you don't have to hear the drips.