When it comes to forums and gamification we prefer to keep things simple. Allowing users to give out reps to other users for adding valuable content is the best example of forum gamification because we want to reward constructive contributions without being too distracting.
At its core, the concept of badges as they are commonly used around the ‘Net today is basic as well: the user achieves some goal, and in turn the user gets a shiny piece of flair for their profile.
Computers are perfect for detecting certain milestones: it’s been one year since you joined the forum; you achieved a rep score of 100 points; or you created a thread with 1,000 views.
But in the context of forum communities, where user-to-user interaction is king, this purely automated approach seems rather boring and difficult to customize.
Besides, there are plenty of other tasks worthy of shiny profile flair that are more nuanced. Does the user go out of his or her way to help newbies? Did the user donate to the latest forum fund raiser? Is the user a leader in the community? Is there an inside joke with the community that we can pay homage to? It is much harder for a computer to create, judge, and reward such feats.
Bearing this complexity in mind, we designed the Ninja Post badge system to accommodate three scenarios:
- Badges automatically generated by the system. For achieving a milestone…
- Badges only created and awarded by Admins. For going above & beyond the call of duty…
- Badges users can award to one another. For impressive accomplishments and perpetuating inside jokes…
Most badge systems stop at the first item on the above list. But our goal is to maximize user engagement and user-to-user interaction. We believe that allowing users to create badges and award to one another is a novel way to make your forum more fun and engaging. See some examples in the chart below.