How to use Reactions in your content

This guideline will talk about the rules to follow when using Reactions in your product. It lists out all the current values recommended by GEL and is meant to help you pick the appropriate one or appropriate set of values for your product/content.


Published on 28 Sep 2017

What are Reactions?

Reactions are a form of participation. Participation is an action performed by anyone using our BBC services, in order to express themselves, respond to, or shape their experience in some way. It also has the potential to have an impact on another person’s experience of the BBC, for example through reacting & sharing.

Emotions and Feedback are the two identified types of Reactions supported on the BBC website. The difference between Emotions and Feedback is defined by their purpose:

  • A Feedback is an evaluation of a piece of content. It can be either positive or negative and is meant to teach us how to provide our audience with better personalisation.

  • Emotions are feelings provoked by a piece of content. We’ve identified 8 types of emotions: positive, negative, sad, funny, puzzled, inspired, disgusted and shocked.

Example of the difference between a Feedback and an Emotion:

I want to be recommended more songs like “Hello” by Adele.
This is a positive Feedback.

“Hello” by Adele makes me feel sad.
This is a sad Emotion.

What is it for?

The purpose of Feedback is to eventually provide better personalisation, and the main purpose of Emotions is to allow our audience to engage with our content.

Opportunities and Requirements

We want our audience to engage with our content as much as possible. This is why Emotions are accessible to anyone using the BBC – there’s no need to sign in.

Because of this, the interface will be able to show how many people engaged with a specific piece of content, and how many of them selected each proposed emotion. But, it won’t be possible to display back to them what they previously selected. It also means that they will be able to interact several times with the same piece of content, and react several times with the same – or a different – emotion.

If someone signed in picked an emotion, although the interface and experience would be identical as what a non signed person would see, the information – “this user engaged with this piece of content” – could be used to provide better personalisation.

To use Feedback our audience must be signed in to their BBC account.


Of course not every product has to implement Reactions, Feedback & Emotions – nor do they have to implement all the 8 types of emotions. It depends on what suits the product, the audience and the experience. 

However, the meaning of each Reaction has to be consistent across products. This is to clearly communicate to our audience the purpose and benefits they can get out of using this feature.

Activity Action What it tells us Signed in state Examples
FeedbackPositiveTo serve more content like this oneSigned in'Recommended more of this', thumb up
FeedbackNegativeDon't serve more content like this oneSigned in'Don't recommend this', thumb down
EmotionsPositiveA positive feeling was provoked by a piece of contentBoth'Heart' emoji, smiley face
EmotionsNegativeA negative feeling was provoked by a piece of contentBoth'Dislike', angry face
EmotionsSadA feeling of sadness was provoked by a piece of contentBothSad face, heartbroken
EmotionsFunnyA feeling of amusement was provoked by a piece of contentBoth"Lol", "funny", laughing face
EmotionsPuzzledA feeling of confusion was provoked by a piece of contentBoth"Weird", thinking face
EmotionsInspiredA feeling of admiration was provoked by a piece of contentBoth "Hero", "inspiring", applause emoji
EmotionsDisgustedA feeling of disgust was provoked by a piece of contentBoth"Disgusting", "gross"
EmotionsShockedA feeling of surprise was provoked by a piece of contentBoth"OMG!", "OMD!", shocked face

If you are planning on using Reactions, please get in touch with a member of the GEL team.