The "dislike" button is one of those things that YouTube thought would help but ultimately ended up becoming an undesirable feature. In particular, swathes of users used it to launch campaigns to bring down select videos in a concerted and malicious effort. Because of this, YouTube decided to remove the "dislike" count on YouTube videos in an attempt to curb such plans. However, it appears that YouTube did not anticipate clever users who had the means to create browser extensions to bring the "dislike" counter back.
“Return YouTube Dislike” does exactly what the name says
In what has to be one of the most appropriately named software available, "Return YouTube Dislike" is an open-source software by Dmitry Selivanov. You can access its source code on GitHub and check it out yourself. Of course, for the less tech-savvy users out there, all that you need to do is that it is software that you can download for free and use as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox as well as other browsers and even jailbroken iOS devices. Although it's still in its early alpha version, the extension works exactly how the name suggests and has already received a perfect 5-star rating from thousands of users.
To bring back the dislike count to videos when you're browsing on YouTube, all you need to do is to add "Return YouTube Dislike" to your preferred browser as an add-on or extension. Once done, the dislike count will show up on a YouTube video page as if nothing happened; you don't even need to restart your browser to make the extension work.
How does “Return YouTube Dislike” work?
According to the GitHub listing of "Return YouTube Dislike", the extension works by re-enabling the visibility of the dislike count on the official YouTube API. However, once YouTube starts removing the dislike stats from the API on December 13, the extension itself will adjust as well. Instead of using the official YouTube API, the app will start using a "combination of scraped dislike stats, estimates extrapolated from extension user data and estimates based on view/like ratios" suggesting a drop in accuracy going forward.
There's a case to be made for YouTube's actions against the dislike count. It's not just because YouTube holds the distinction for having the most disliked video ever on its platform. The concern regarding dislike campaigns is real and the removal of the dislike count has helped curb such attempts. YouTube also confirmed that the decision is based on helping improve the mental health and well-being of creators on the platform.
On the other hand, dislikes are a way for audiences to show their discontent and disapproval. Case in point, the number of dislikes on the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack trailer.
Ultimately, the decision is up to YouTube, regardless of whether we like what they're doing or not.