Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Adventure/Research

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Much serious interest has developed around the ability of game design principles to encourage increase motivation and activity. Below is a gathering of ideas and thoughts from those I've found useful in designing TWA."


Aaron and Mako

  • Incentives that worked on Amazon Turk: truth serum - predict responses of others; punishment agreement - no bonus without match; think about what your peers are doing, more you think about the opinions of those around you, better work you do
  • Social incentives on Scratch: what the community is remixing...highlight editors on front page; who's attracted? (new users, experienced users); attracted new users but caused average complexity by experienced editors to DECREASE
  • Barnstars: some awards are status symbols and some are not. did editors 'expect recognition for their actions'? do some editors do better WITHOUT recognition? who moves their barnstar to their userpage (jimbos vs. magnuses); magnuses correlates with drop in editing; beware of crowding out and poor incentive designs of extrinsic motivation

Daniel Pink

  • Candle problem: social proof beat individual reward or social rank (those actually did harm); intrinsic motivators are better--carrots and sticks often fails or underperforms--if-then rewards narrow focus and work for simple, uncomplex tasks; for more complex tasks if-then rewards actually demotivate. New approach: intrinsic motivation. Because they matter, because they're interesting, because they're part of something larger. Autonomy, mastery, purpose. Self-direction is better for engagement and creativity; management is better for compliance.

Swalling and Maryana

9 reasons women don't edit

EE account creation survey

  • I want to edit existing Wikipedia pages by updating the information, correcting mistakes, etc. 23.10%
  • I want to start a new page on Wikipedia. 22.50%
  • I want to contribute another way, such as by translating, adding images, etc. 5.60%
  • I want an account just in case I edit in the future. 13.30%
  • I want to read or download Wikipedia content, not edit. 14.70%
  • I am a donor or want to donate. 9.50%
  • Other reason / I don't know. 11.2%



Beyond gamification

  • Points, Badges, Leaderboards, and Rewards
  • "It is not very important what your reward is - it could be points, stickers or a nice warm feeling in your belly - as long as it feels rewarding to the members to do something that you want them to do...The primary problem with Consumating points was that they did not actually give incentive to the members to do anything valuable. What we wanted people to do was write interesting posts, and then invite their friends to comment upon them. However, posting things to the site earned you nothing and inviting your friends earned you similar amount of nothing. Even voting on and ranking content for us earned you nothing."
  • Wikipedia is not a game: No rules, no competition, no discrete goals
  • It's not 'fun' that leads to 'sustained engagement' (Koster, Lazzaro, Leblanc)
  • Types of motivation *(negative, extrinsic, intrinsic):
  • Social network theories posit that groups grow into their own normative structure. Beware of introducing a conflicting or competing structure. (Working idea: Ideal gamification schemes merely amplify what the community already values).
  • While designers of persuasive technology are steering users toward a goal that the designers’ have in mind, the designers of mindful technology give users the ability to better know their own behavior to support reflection and/or self-regulation in pursuit of goals that the users have chosen for themselves.
  • Present in volunteers, peer production, FOSS, remixing, Wikipedia...inexpensive, large-scale collaboration
  • competence (meaningful growth): path to mastery with regular achievable goals), core is simple, accelerates in challenge, doesn't overwhelm, fails gracefully; progress is visible, data is actionable, milestone-markers of achievement, measures things that matter; sustained engagement is a function of continued *success* not continued *overstretch*; social outlets; juicy feedback (barnstars)
  • autonomy (meaningful choice): Game belongs to the user, control and personal preference develops engagement and loyalty; provides feedback; experience pathways; provides 'want to' over 'have to'; create What If? moments; variety of engagement options; sense of increasing opportunities (unlocks, privileges, new modes, wider social network, more challenges); multiple pathways to different end-states
  • relatedness ( mutual dependence): Intrinsic social motivation; allow players to connect with others; let peers support eachother; design Moments of Relevance; provide recognition that matters to the users; allow users to inject their own long and short-term goals
  • Questions: Why gamify? How does it benefit the user? Will they enjoy it? What are the goals of the mission? What actions must users take to support those goals? What are the risks if it backfires? What are the goals/motivations of the users? What type of experience is desired for the users?
  • Questions: Who? Why? Motivations, expectations, desires? Primary play style? Social desires? Metrics?
  • Long term goals that seem heroic, broken up into accessible steps.
  • Lenses of interest: competition, time pressure, scarcity, puzzles, novelty, levels, social proof, teamwork, currency, renewals/power-ups
  • Epic wins and graceful failures with feedback, rewards and recognition along the way
  • Play, test, and polish: what's working? what hasn't been tried? is difficulty balanced? is it personal enough? what will keep it consistently interesting?
  • Games are motivation engines; experience should be functional; usable; appealing; pleasureable; and meaningful

Gamification and its discontents

  • Design matters, build it in from the start (delighted, amazed users). Engagement and flow, set proper difficulty level--balance of challenge and reward. Not all gamers all competitive (collaboration, expression, exploration). Cynical view is that gamification is just a way for marketers to hook consumers. Trust consumer's judgement. Competitive ranking: how am I doing relative to others? How can I do better? Give people the option of being competitive or not. Add social aspects. **Dashboard rather than leaderboard**. Motivate for a good purpose. Juicy feedbacy. You can't gamify crap. Don't gamify dynamics that are not native to the system. Know your audience. All games eventually fatigue their players. What keeps something fresh and engaging? Game layer can add management burden. Games can reward with merchandise, access to key staff, content, or information. Sense of scarcity can motivate action. Games recognize achievement and encourage future action and effort. Game mechanics are just one aspect of UI design.

Gamification of Education and German Board Games

  • uncontrollable chance is unfun; not how do you win? but how do you play?; not all games are zero-sum (you win when someone else loses); good games are not linear, have multiple pathways; systems and motifs; constructive play (build it as it goes on); centered on choice; you are always acting/participating/learning instead of losing; replay value (multiple paths, inclusive by necessity, variable experiences, encourages mastery); providing the world with a better and more immersive reality (bring games to the into the world); "urgent optimism; social fabric; blissful productivity; epic meaning" (McGonagal). Immersion, collaboration, points/badges/levels/rewards, stories/narratives. Giving people better and more frequent feedback. patience/persistence/self-discipline/dealingwithuncertainty. see the world more as the games that they already are and design the world to contain better games. Not playing to learn, learning to play.


  • Gamification Satisfies Human Needs: Reward (points), Status (levels), Achievement (challenges), Self expression (virtual goods), competition (leaderboards), altruism (gifting). 120M people enrolled in travel award programs, starbucks uses points and badges for store visits, 200M+ people play social games with only virtual rewards.


  • Understanding people and behaviors. What drives them and how to incentivize them. What are they actually doing? How to make them more engaged. Gamification tools are powerful but ultimately depend on context. 3 pillars of engagement: Personal, social and competitive. Good design - has to be going somewhere. Let you know what you *can do*, motivate you to do more of it. More engaging, memorable, meaningful (and fun!) experiences. Have to educate the game user--what it's about, why to use it. Give game users an easy place (or multiple places) to leave (even negative) feedback. Game mechanics plus social dynamic (social, interests, behavior) Relevant activity streams, social notifications and alterts, follow people and objects. Whose interacting here now? What happened while I was away?

Badge implementation[edit]

  • Balance delight with aspirational, predictable achievement
  • Design for visual appeal
  • Leverage scarcity principles
  • Integrate tightly with a larger system
  • Structured challenge and unexpected delight (predictable and unpredictable rewards)
  • Only part of a system of gam****tion — not the whole experience. The key is to design an authentic, flexible and enduring game experience, and to pay close attention to both the motivation of the player and the visual design.
  • Focus on the needs of your users and what drives them by creating a coherent system of engagement-focused interactions. Ensure your badges are attractive, collectible and meaningful to ensure that your consumers care. As in all development efforts, be sure to test and question every deployment that has a direct impact on your key metrics.
  • External rewards are rarely effective because gamers and humans in general are typically not motivated by external factors, but rather by intrinsic ones. In fact, studies have shown that external rewards and pressures can often act as de-motivators.
  • Game mechanics are not your core product (unless you are building a game, of course) and have no value in and of themselves. All they can do is act as a "multiplier", encouraging some existing behavior by increasing the behavior's value in the eyes of the user. If that value was originally zero, game mechanics won't help.

6 types of badges[edit]

  • Badges as Alternative Assessment: "Badges become a way for youth to receive formative and summative feedback, for the learning environment to accurately understand a youth’s abilities, and for those in the workforce and universities to understand a learner’s abilities. With badges as assessment, or, more to the point, as a form of alternative assessment, badges exist within a network of other alternative assessment models."
  • Gamifying Education with Badges: An achievement... is a meta-goal defined outside of a game's parameters. Unlike the systems of quests or levels that usually define the goals of a video game and have a direct effect on further gameplay, the management of achievements usually takes place outside the confines of the game environment and architecture.” So, in essence, “qualifications” filtered through “achievements” became “digital badges.”"
  • Badges as Learning Scaffolding: "Badges reveal multiple pathways that youth may follow and make visible the paths youth eventually take. Scaffolding in a learning environment refers to providing guidance for youth to encounter learning opportunities that engage them at their level of ability before taking them to the next. In other words, badges not to assess or motivate, but to guide."
  • Badges to Develop Lifelong Learning Skills: "Badges support learners to give language to and value what they are learning, by offering names for their new competencies and providing a venue that recognizes their importance." 'learning identity'
  • Badges as DML Driver: "Badges are viewed as a praxis to undermine the deficiencies within current learning environments and spread Digital Media & Learning practices. Badging systems require participatory learning environments, offering peer-based learning communities in which youth don’t just receive badges but comment on them, share evidence around them, and more. Badging systems can reach youth throughout the Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out framework (HO-MA-GO). Badges should disrupt existing practices. Badges should lead to a better use of digital media for learning."
  • Badges to Democratize Learning: Some badge systems are designed to democratize the learning process, to change who does the assessment and what affect the learners have over their learning environment. Learners can shape the content of their badging system and perhaps even the structure itself. They might propose or add new badges, or the missions required to earn them. Learners can participate in the assessment process, ranging from recommending peers for accreditation to earning the right to be the accreditor."

Digital Media badges[edit]


  • Project Completion Badges that are awarded by the system whenever badge recipients complete specific design goals related to the DFA curriculum. For example, these design goals could be identifying a project, creating the first prototype, or creating a business plan. Project Completion Badges are intended to represent the extent to which students are progressing through their intended projects and to provide an incentive to accomplish certain design goals. Given for logging project milestones and highlighting contributions, where badges are assigned for completing certain sub-projects or accomplishing overall project steps--a hierarchical set that each student needs to go through while completing projects, to help showcase the common editing experience, and to give credit for achieving pre-defined learning goals. Clicking on a badge would lead to the criteria page for how that badge is earned along with a link to any relevant evidence.
  • Tenet Completion Badges that are awarded whenever a participant achieves all related badges in one area. The tenet badge piece is earned once the recipient has collected all of the project badges for that tenet. The required number of project badges to be earned can be preset for the entire program or customized by the project advisors or mentors per project, potentially incorporating Identity Badges if possible.
  • Identity Badges that are awarded to recipients whenever badge recipients accomplish tasks or take on group identities outside of the project curriculum. These badges are intended to supplement the project completion badges by providing an added level of information about students’ roles and contributions to their projects. For example, these badges could be “Project Leader” badge or the “Graphic Design Guru” badge. An open system that allows editors upload their own badges would create a diverse set of badges that can represent project learning outcomes and identities in a more dynamic way than a pre-set badge curriculum. Such a system would encourage participants to think critically about their own learning outcomes and the direction of their participation in projects while taking pressure away from badge system designers to create a set of badges that satisfactorily represents everyone’s contributions to different projects. Because badge creation and assignment will rely heavily on community contributions, such a system could be subject to problems of under contribution, creation of badges that are irrelevant, and potential assignment of badges that are a poor match to an individual’s accomplishments. To help mitigate these problems, create a community system that will allow users to create as many badges as they’d like but to assign them only through a community vote.
  • Role Badges that are awarded to signify community status. For example, these badges could be a “Student” badge, a “Faculty Advisor” badge, a “Community Mentor” badge and an “Active Alumni” badge. Role badges can be used to differentiate community privileges, such as weighted votes or open badge nominations, or to signal different levels of reputation online.
  • List of available badges; List of who received what badge; Process for creating new badges; Process for nominating users for badges; Process for voting on badges
  • Propose that users be nominated to receive a particular badge and, as part of the nomination process, examples of work relevant to the badge be submitted as evidence. Nomination and evidence submission could be an automatic process, such as for project completion or tenet badges, or it could be a community-supported process, such as for identity badges. When nominating someone for a community created identity badge, the nominator could be required to submit evidence of the recipient’s work.

Badges-about (DML)

  • A badge is a validated indicator of accomplishment, skill, quality or interest that can be earned in any of these learning environments. Badges can support learning, validate education, help build reputation, and confirm the acquisition of knowledge. They can signal traditional academic attainment or the acquisition of skills such collaboration, teamwork, leadership, and other 21st century skills. Badges are used successfully in games, social network sites, and interest-driven programs to set goals, represent achievements and communicate success. A digital badge is an online record of achievements, the work required, and information about the organization, individual or other entity that issued the badge. Badges make the accomplishments and experiences of individuals, in online and offline spaces, visible to anyone and everyone, including potential employers, teachers, and peer communities. In addition to representing a wide range of skills, competencies, and achievements, badges can play a critical role in supporting participation in a community, encouraging broader learning goals, and enabling identity and reputation building. For a learner, a sequence of badges can be a path to gaining expertise and new competencies. Badges can capture and display that path, providing information about, and visualizations of, needed skills and competencies. They can acknowledge achievement, and encourage collaboration and teamwork. Finally, badges can foster kinship and mentorship, encourage persistence, and provide access to ever-higher levels of challenge and reward. The success of badges as an alternative path to accreditation and credentialing for learners relies on a significant “ecosystem” of badge issuers, badge seekers, and badge displayers.
  • Types of Badges: Training badges or leveling systems. These badges and systems are often skill-based, have clear criteria for award, which often involve an assessment or proof of skill to achieve, assume multiple levels of advancement along a trajectory, and provide different resources, materials and support for learning at each level of expertise. These badges may expire and require additional assessments to update and maintain the achieved levels. Examples include systems used in scuba diving certification and first aid training. Dynamic dossier systems. These systems track ongoing performance linked to sets of merits and achievements. They are first and foremost computationally based, data-rich systems that are updated in an ongoing fashion. They often provide rich visualizations, in the form of dashboards, of progress—updating both the individual and the community of interest. This is the model many digital games use, both in a single game and across a set of games. Social system badges. These are badges that are designed to support community interaction. The emphasis within these systems is on peer connection, social signaling, and reinforcement of community values. Ranking badge systems. There are badge-like systems that are used in sports to determine access, identity, and reputation in an area of expertise. Examples include tennis, swimming and chess.
  • Badges characteristics:
    1. Content. What content will be the central domain of the badge?
    2. Skills. What skills will be identified and tracked?
    3. Discrete vs. dynamic. Will the badge represent a discrete set of skills, competencies or activities (e.g., training and ranking badges) or will it track ongoing performance (e.g., dossier systems)?
    4. Scarcity and granularity. How often will achievements or actions be tracked and represented, and how specific will the merits or achievements be that are recognized?
    5. Qualifications. What qualifications will the badge convey? What prerequisites are required for individual badges or groups of badges? Are badges linked or independent of other badges in a system?
    6. Role and identity. What roles or identities will be represented by the badge? How does a badge allow individuals to take on roles or build identity?
    7. Level. Will there be levels or hierarchies of badges and achievements? How will the badge track and represent increasing levels of expertise?
    8. Qualifications. What qualifications will the badge convey? What prerequisites are required for individual badges or groups of badges? Are badges linked or independent of other badges in a system?
    9. Opportunities and privileges. Will the badge confer opportunities and privileges as it is earned? When the final badge in a series is earned, what new opportunity does it create?
    10. Performance. Will there be a performance rating? How will it be assessed? Will there be peer rating? How will it be supported?
    11. Portability. Will the badge exist permanently? Will it expire and/or will there be an opportunity to update or renew the badge?
    12. Design. What does the badge look like? What information is presented on the badge versus behind the badge in the metadata? What branding elements are included on the badge?
    13. Transparency. How do those not familiar with the badge or the community in which it was earned view or understand what it represents or signifies? How is achievement made visible and what is the process by which the badge is earned or awarded?
    14. Protection. How does the design of the badge ensure that it cannot be “gamed?” The goal of any badge system should not be the earning of badges, but rather learning. Poorly designed badges encourage users to seek badges without attention to what they signify about learning and not just about status, reputation, or opportunity.
    15. Endorsement. Does the badge need to be endorsed by a third party to carry more value? Who might that third party be and what criteria would they require to endorse the badge?
    16. Issuing. How will the issuing web site deliver assessments and award badges? Will learners manage badges locally, or only off site using the Open Badge Infrastructure?
    17. Interoperability. How does this badge fit into the broader ecosystem? Is the badge being issued in a manner that meets the specifications for the Open Badge Infrastructure?

Global Kids

  • Hard Skills: things learners can do; Soft Skills: things learners can do (but are harder to measure); Knowledge: things learners know; Participation: things learners did; Roles: identities you can take on through achieving the first four types of badges
  • Had badge applicants make a comment along with their evidence
  • Game elements: interest-driven, social, mildly competitive, provides opportunities for public recognition, and offers learning scaffolding (you did x, now do y)
  • Badges as alternative assessment, as gamifying education, as learning scaffolding, to develop lifelong learning skills (metacognition), as digital media and learning driver (participatory, interactive learning environments--identify skills, promote skills, test skills, reward skills, share skills), democratize the learning environment

Open Educational Resources

Open Badges for Lifelong Learning

  • making knowledge and skills visible and consequential in terms that are recognized by formal educational institutions and broader career ecosystems
  • "Informal, peer-based and self-directed learning is only acknowledged to the degree that it supports the formal curriculum. Further, most of these formal systems do not account for newer skills like digital literacies or for granular skills and incremental learning, and thus a degree or report card tells a limited story about what relevant skills and competencies people have developed along the way"
  • "In this ideal world, learning would be connected across formal and informal learning contexts, and you could discover relevant opportunities and craft your own learning pathways at your own pace, based on your own interests and learning styles. Whether it was through discussion with peers, structured classes or workplace experience, you could collect evidence of skill development, including new or often neglected skills such as social skills or digital literacies. This evidence could be acquired automatically from your interactions with online content or peers, explicitly sought out through various assessments or based on nominations or endorsements from peers or colleagues. This would allow you to present a more complete picture of your skills and competencies to various audiences, including potential employers, mentors, peers and collaborators." "to more systematically support and acknowledge this learning so that these skills and competencies are available and become part of the conversation in hiring decisions, school acceptances, mentoring opportunities and even self-evaluations. This is where badges come in."
  • A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. Boy/Girl scouts, PADI diving instruction, Foursquare, StackOverflow, military medals, Huffingtonpost. Used to set goals, motivate behaviors, represent achievements, and communicate success. Digital badge is an online record of achievements, tracking recipient's communities of interaction and the work completed to get it. Motivate learning and signal achievement within community and across communities.
  • Learning extends across multiple context, experiences, and interactions. Not isolated or individual but inclusive, social, informal, participatory, creative, and lifelong. Learning is not just consumption; learners are active participatns and producers in an interest-driven, lifelong learning process; encompasses many spaces in broader, networked, distributed and extensible environments that span time and space. Multiple pathways to gain competencies and refine skills through open, remixable, and transparent tools, resources, and processes: the connected learning ecology.
  • Web operates with core principles of openness, universality, and transparency. No longer rely on expert authority or professionally-produced artifact; instead find it from peers or make it ourselves. New skills and literacies including digital and media literacies: to use technologies effectively, to navigate and seek out information online, to produce and author content, and to be a good citizen in the digital community. Appropriation of information, judgment of information quality, multiasking and networking.
  • "Without a way to capture, promote and transfer all of the learning that can occur within a broader connected learning ecology, we are limiting that ecology by discouraging engaged learning, making critical skills unattractive or inaccessible, isolating or ignoring quality efforts and interactions and ultimately, holding learners back from reaching their potential. Thus, badges can play a crucial role in the connected learning ecology by acting as a bridge between contexts and making these alternative learning channels, skills and types of learning more viable, portable and impactful. Badges can be awarded for a potentially limitless set of individual skills regardless of where each skill is developed, and the collection of badges can serve as a virtual resume of competencies and qualities for key stakeholders such as peers, schools or potential employers."
  • Badges can capture and represent learning paths and track broader/more granulat sets of skills. Signals skills to others. Provides intrinsic feedback or serve as miltestones or rewards to encourage engagement and retention (motivation). Make learners aware of skills or topics and encourage them to explore those paths to develop those skills. Serve as entry points to become aware of and attain new levels of privileges. Capture a wide range of skills often missed or ignored by formal channels. Flexibility to award innovation and recognize new skills as they emerge and gain relevance.
  • Identity and reputation building; promote identity within the learning community and reputation among peers. Makes that explicit and portable. Builds community and kinship, signalling to (sub)communities a level of membership and an aid to help peers find participants with similar skills/interests or mentors to teach them skills they lack. A means of social capital. Can formalize camaraderia, team synthesis, or communities of practice.
  • Badges. Badges represent skills, competencies, qualities, achievements and interests achieved across many contexts over time. Hard skills or soft skills (social skills). Small badges for motivation and larger badges for certification (or higher-level 'meta badges). Designed top-down or bottom-up. Create taxonomies of achievement that help people discover learning opportunities and extend the value of that learning. Hierarchical badges: basic or foundationional, intermediate and expert level. Some may be prerequisites for others. "claim-based authentication mechanism for opportunities and advancement. Multi-skills, multi-sourced badges can form a more complete picture of a person for potential employers, future or current institutions, peer groups and even him/herself. Badges come with metadata--conversation starters that justify and validate the badge. Reduces the capacity for gaming the system. "Each badge should cary sufficient information with it to provide initial, and in many cases, sufficient validation".
  • Assessment. Quality and vetted assessments are critical. Some strictly defined others loosely or not rigorously at all. Badges give the ability to support open innovation around new or relevant types of assessments, more personalized and less isolated. Self-directed, or automatically, 'stealth assessment'. Creates a distributed portfolio, linked to relevant artifacts in the portfolio. Allows for multiple assessors. In line with the spirit fo connected learning, badges should be interest-driven and flexible to individual interests and learning paths, and support recommendations and endorsements from peers.
  • Infrastructure. The goal is to support learning as it occurs all across the Web, keep each learner in control of her own learning and credentials, and allow people to share that learning and evidence of skills and experiences with anyone, thus adding flexibility and value to the system and supporting personalized learning paths.
  • MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. ‘Connected learning’ is: 1) participatory, demanding active social engagement and contribution in knowledge communities and collectives; 2) learner-centered, empowering individuals of all ages to take ownership of their learning linked across a wide range of settings -- in school, at home, and informally with friends and peers; 3) interest-driven, propelled by the energies of learners pursuing their unique passions and specialties; and 4) inclusive, drawing in people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life across generational, socioeconomic, and cultural boundaries.

Open Michigan

  • The current system of recognition and merit evaluation at the University of Michigan is not sufficient.; Badges my be too different from the currently existing reward mechanisms to be useful. Also, can be perceived as too childish; Some believe that a certification or badge system could be useful and liked by people.; People are motivated by free food or other tangible prizes because it is a well understood practice. Free food is associated with getting people to come to an event and grabbing their attention for messaging or social purposes.
  • Participants want to be able to control the display location of their own badges and also want an easily accessible display of peer badges. Places where people may want to display badges vary but all want to have control over the display location so that is particularly customized to them.; People are motivated by looking at what their peers are doing and comparing themselves against them. A clear, easily accessible display of peer achievements would be useful.
  • Participants want to be able to show off their own work to their peers or employers in a way that can separate good work from bad. A good badge system needs to be able to sort the good participants form the bad and to easily display the information. participants should be rewarded for contributing and then for being really good at it. People want to see more recognition for the OM work that they are already doing, such as: going to events, uploading content. People are motivated when their work can be displayed in a way that increasies their chances of promotion. Therefore, they feel that the display must fit into existing evaluation systems like resumes or dosiers.


  • boy scouts and girl scouts
  • education stickers (even assessment letter grades)
  • military medals, pins, ribbons, and other accolades

Best practices[edit]


  • Ranking: In highly competitive communities, users may want to compare their performance against that of their peers. A user may want to understand, relatively speaking, where they "rank" in the community and how far they must progress to "outrank" someone else. While suitable for enabling player-to-player comparisons (and permitting users to settle "Who is better?" arguments, these patterns, particularly Leaderboard are frequently antipatterns, lending themselves to easily to gaming and compulsive, nonconstructive community behaviors.
    • Top X type: Group contributors, numerically, by performance, and acknowledge top performers for their superior achievements, e.g. Top 10, 50 and 100... Use when you want to encourage top, top contributors to continue to provide high-quality content (and continue to serve as examples to the rest of the community of valued community behaviors); you want to motivate heavy (but not yet top) contributors to increase the quality and frequency of their contributions. Don't use this pattern when: Introducing an 'elite' designation could produce an unwanted community divide. (For example, in a community who's spirit is more about collaboration, or nurturing.); when context for the Reputation would be unclear. IFor example "Top 10 Shopper" on Y! Shopping is confusing, and doesn't provide any useful interpretation, but "Top 10 Reviewer in Books" is better - it's more specific and lets consumers know this person's area of expertise). Dynamic is exclusivity.
    • Leaderboard type: Display user rankings in a list showing a fixed number of top competitors, ranked by score from highest to lowest. Provide multiple views of a leaderboard, including overall rankings and latest movers in the community. Typically, the all-time view will be more stable, so consider making the "latest movers" view the default one for the leaderboard. Use when: the community is highly competitive, and the activities that users engage in are competitive in nature (e.g., player-vs-player contests, or coaching a fantasy football team.); you want to enable player-to-player comparisons, or permit users to definitively settle "Who is better?" arguments. Don't use this pattern when the activities that users engage in are not competitive in nature. Also consider the easy ability to filter a leaderboard - perhaps showing only a user and his or her contacts or friends and their relative standings, without the extra noise of the larger community. Risk: encourages cheaters and incumbents, discourages 'honest' users and new users; rewards quantity over quantity.
  • Collectible Achievements: may seem silly or trivial, but they can have an addictive quality that may compel users to explore parts of the site that otherwise might not appeal to them. Use when: you want to leverage users' compulsive natures; you want to encourage the community to try out all aspects of your offering; there are specific features or facets to your product offering that you'd like to promote: for instance, if you'd like to encourage more trades in a fantasy sports context, consider rewarding users with an achievement upon the completion of their 10th successful trade. ('Successful' is key here: introduce and enforce some notion of quality in the achievement.) Enhance their fun appeal by fetishizing them in some way: Develop attractive trophies, icons or 'gamepieces' to represent each achievement; Allow users to save them and put them on display; Provide a healthy mix of difficulties: Make some achievements very easy and quick (low-hanging fruit) while others require time and effort to conquer "Unlock" new achievements as easier ones are accomplished. Risk: should encourage quality participation over mere repetitious activity. So, don't reward a user's "20th game played." Rather you should reward "20 wins in one season." Develop a number of 'first-time' achievements (e.g., 'First Review posted', 'First Recipe Written', 'First Comment Received'.); Make these achievements worth less than other, more difficult ones; Don't continue to reward more of the same behavior. These 'first' achievements are useful for encouraging people to try new and novel features, but don't reward them for gaming those features repeatedly. List the available Achievements for your product, so that users will know which ones are available to them. Also, indicate the ones they've achieved already. Keep some achievements "locked" or grayed-out until their display has been earned. Note, collectible Achievements should not be confused with Points, although you could intermix the two (for example, award a certain number of points for each achievement earned). Feel free to be fairly generous with collectible achievements. Every member of your community should have easy access to some achievements. But also keep some rarer achievements in short supply: make those more difficult to obtain.
  • Points: Maintain and display a cumulative count of the number of points user has earned within a community. Points generally come from performing specific activities on the site, best-awarded to congratulate performance rather than merely to acknowledge activity. Use this pattern when the community is highly competitive, and the activities that users engage in are competitive in nature. Don't use when the activities that users engage in are not competitive in nature; the awarding of points might demean or devalue the activity that they're meant to reward. By pinning an arbitrary incentive value to an activity, you may unintentionally replace a user's satisfying intrinsic motivation with a petty extrinsic one. Account for social points, driven by actions that others in the community take toward a community member. When possible, these social points should reflect a measure of quality. Provide points for first-time activities, which are difficult to 'game'.
  • Identifying Labels: Define a family of reputation labels that are not sequential in nature. Craft each one to identify and reward particular behaviors or qualities within a community. These labels are helpful for consumers in identifying more-experienced contributors who possess these qualities. Community members need to identify other, "special" members of the community - those who've distinguished themselves in some way: perhaps they've excelled at one particular skill that the community values; perhaps they are official representatives for the community or an affiliated organization; perhaps they have volunteered to be a helpful resource for others in the community. Each reputation is crafted to identify and reward particular behaviors or qualities within a community. Identifying labels are helpful for consumers in identifying more-experienced contributors who possess these qualities (e.g., 'Helpful' guides, or 'Elite' reviewers). Use when you have identified some desirable behaviors for your community that you'd like to promote; You want to allow users to volunteer for a 'role' or responsibility within the community; ou need a reputation to reflect that a user has been vetted or validated, either by your organization or a trusted 3d-party; The community's culture appears at any point along the Competitive Spectrum. Note: identifying Labels are not particularly useful for comparing one reputation-holder to another; reputation holders may accrue more than one Identifying Label at a time. Identifying Labels may also require a user to apply for or accept the reputation before it is publicly displayed.
  • Numbered Levels: Establish a family of reputations on a progressive continuum. Each level achieved is higher than the one before it. Refer to each level by its number, which makes comparisons between levels very straightforward and easy to do. Participants in a community need some way to gauge their own personal development within that community: how far they've progressed; how deeply they've interacted with the community or its offerings. Additionally, these same measures can be used to compare members, to understand who has more or less experience in the community. Use when you want to enable your users to track their individual growth in the community; A large (or open-ended) number of levels are desirable; You want to enable easy comparisons between users. (At a glance, 'Level 1' is more junior than 'Level 5'.); You're trying to encourage a more-competitive community spirit. Risk: Numbered levels can be perceived as cold and impersonal.
  • Named Levels:Define a family of reputation levels on a progressive continuum. Each level is higher than the one before it. Unique names give the levels a fun and approachable quality. Quick comparisons between levels, however, become slightly more difficult. Consider semi-generic names (e.g. bronze-silver-gold). Add at the top, but not inbetween. (e.g. add platinum or diamond but not ruby). Be clear and neither ambiguous or offensive: Don't expect users to intuitively know that one name indicates a more-senior level than any other. The more specific to a context the names you choose are, the greater the risk that you'll alienate or confuse a visitor who's not yet attuned to that community. A sizable portion of the community won't want to be identified with frivolous, insulting or just goofy-sounding labels.
  • Competitive Spectrum: The degree of competitiveness of a community depends on the individual goals of community members, the actions they engage in, and to what degree inter-person comparisons or contests are desired. Articulating the community's competitiveness can help the designer of a reputation system determine which specific reputation patterns to employ. Caring (helping others; identify trusted members; Identifying label e.g. 'Helpful'); collaborative (shared goals; identify experienced members; Named Levels e.g. expert); cordial (co-independence, show engagement history; Statistical Data, orTop X); competitive (same goals but with winners, show accomplishments; numbered levels or collectible achievements); combative (opposing goals and zero-sum, show accomplishments 'over' others). Choose wisely what you want to promote. Risk: Haphazardly introducing competitive incentives into non-competitive contexts can create problems and may cause a schism within the community.

Incentives we already have[edit]



  • Lack of blocks, bans, arbitration, edit warring, warnings, reverts


  • Growing social network
  • Mediating content disputes
  • Participating at noticeboards
  • Improving policy
  • Helping other users
  • Gnoming (clearing backlogs)
  • Reading articles
  • Translation
  • Mediating disputes
  • POV pushers

Cynicism about games on Wikipedia[edit]

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia not a game
  • Editors should not need outside motivation to participate
  • Wikipedia is too important to be a game
  • Wikipedia is not supposed to be fun
  • We want readers to take Wikipedia seriously
  • We don't want editors to treat Wikipedia as a game
  • Treating Wikipedia as a game would distract from the focus on producing high quality content and engaging in serious academic discourse
  • The encyclopedia IS the reward
  • The kinds of people who would be motivated or need motivation by game mechanics are not the type of people we want here anyway

Follow-up and questions[edit]

  • Check WikiProject MilHist's awards
  • Could TWA award a unique, embeddable, confirmable 'certificate'?
  • AGW editor 'quality' scores (metadata, WikiTrust, Cluebot, etc.)
  • Should you have to 'have' a badge to 'give' one? Who's an approved giver?
  • Could some badges show amount of text added (but not reverted)? WikiTrust score? Article space percentage?
  • Reputation statistics for articles and/or editors

Further reading[edit]

Video games and narrative
Game dynamics