Are there any benefits to the rating system on youtube? It is sort of a grey area on youtube. The staff have never commented on how the system works, so most of what we know is guess work and hearsay.
At a very basic level the number of likes and dislikes can be used as feedback to you, the creator of the video, as to how well your video was received. You can presume over a short period of time that the initial likes and dislikes are from your subscribers, so the regular viewers. Any after that are from outside sources that have been driven to your video.
Keeping your subscriber base happy is always a good idea, so keeping an eye on those first few days and using that feedback to improve your videos.
In the long term, depending on the sort of topic you are documenting, the general viewer base may not find it as interesting/truthful/aligned with their beliefs and as such will dislike. I would ignore this as a whole.
Something that you may have missed, is how the like shares your videos via their subscribers. If they have their account hooked up to social media (twitter, google+ and Facebook), then it is automatically posted there. It is posted to their youtube page that they liked it and it goes into their subscribers feed. That is a huge way gain more views without actually having to do anything but allowing people to like.
Dislikes hide your video from results?
There is no documentation from Youtube that states this. From my experience with videos that receive a large number of dislikes, they still get views and comments. My most popular video has over 200,000 views, it regularly gets the same amount of likes as dislikes, if not worse, and it still gets nearly 8,000 views a month, and that is a 2 year old video! A large number of dislikes doesn’t appear to effect the views you get, they still come in strong.
Merged into one
I’ve seen it mentioned before, but I can’t see anything to back it up, that the dislikes and likes are merged into one value and just the fact that you are getting people to engage with your video is a positive, no matter if the dislikes out weight the likes. Youtube added a Total Engagement number last year, which could be this. But how it is used is unknown.
This post and the below graph highlights how allowing people to like your video has a drastic effect on the views you receive. The poster states that the analytics shows that the majority of these extra views are coming from suggested videos. Which indicates that having likes (and potentially dislikes) puts your videos in the suggested videos and that those are very powerful when it comes to traffic.
Looking at this information, there appears to be no downside to dislikes. But there are huge disadvantages to turning the likes off, it doesn’t share your video the same or puts your videos in the suggested videos, you are loosing out on a huge amount of potential views by having it turned off.