Beta points and badge system

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Today you might have noticed a few new things on, like badges appearing under users in the comments. We're launching a points and badge system (in beta) for the site. We're still ironing out some bugs, but here's a little more about the system and why we're doing it.

Meritocracy is at the heart of every open source project, including this one. The people who work the hardest and care the most end up running the show. Our new badge and points system will highlight the various ways that each of us participates on

Every day people visit the site, rate content, add comments, and share their favorite posts across social media. And they do it because they care about the ideas and information they find on

But some people care just a little big more, and we want to recognize and build on their contributions.

We started having a conversation on our mailing list about the benefits, risks, advantages, and disadvantages of creating a points/rewards system on The conversation ended with a question that is central to all discussions about the open source way: What are the incentives to participation in open, collaborative communities?

I think the answer can be found somewhere around the notion that people who know they are doing something good, something important, and collaborating in large, open communities enjoy being recognized for their contributions. It just feels good to know where you stand and that you are appreciated. If you earn merit, you should get to enjoy it.

And that is what we intend to do with the new badge and point system: reward merit.

How you can earns points

Registered users will earn points by doing the things they've already been doing on the site:

  • 1 point: rating an article, voting in a poll, or thumbing comments up or down
  • 5 points: leave a comment
  • 15 points: Writing a poll (and having it published)
  • 30 points: Writing an article (and having it published)

There are a few restrictions, but that's about it. If you want to know more, you can read more details about the points system.

Badges for points

Now that you can earn points, we decided to associate four different roles with the number of points earned. New users who register with the site will be assigned the Newbie role. Once you've earned 10 or more points, you become a Community Member.

The next role is Open Enthusiast, which you achieve after earning 30 or more points. Finally, the highest level we have for the beta period is a Rock Star, which takes 100 or more points. It's doable--you'll just need to warm up your vocals.

Again, this is explained in more detail and a pretty table in our participation section.

Note: Users who are not registered or not logged in won't earn points. So don't forget to log in.

Special badges

You'll also notice that some users will have extra badges appear in their profiles. Some of these badges will help identify certain community members' roles on the site. Examples would be Admin, Moderator, Comment Gardener, and Author. You'll also see others that are reserved for specific uses. For example, the winner of the 2010 People's Choice Award will be awarded a special badge. And all users who register with the site before January 25 (our one-year anniversary) will have a Founding Member badge.

As our community continues to grow and as we better understand the types of achievements our users value and would like to be recognized for, we'll look to add more badges. (Feel free to suggest your ideas.) We might also change the names into something that sounds less (or more, if the community likes) hierarchical. The last thing we want to do is diminish the importance of every contribution members of our community make.

We also need to figure out more tangible rewards for our members who earn merit. Swag is nice, but maybe there are more substantial ways we can make this system do what it's intended to do.

Remember, it's a beta, so don't hesitate to share your ideas. Give us your feedback on what's working and what's not. We'll be evaluating the points and badge system over the next few weeks. If we make any changes or tweak something, we'll let you know what those changes are and how things will be moving forward.

What are your initial thoughts on implementing a points and badges system here on

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.


Nice way to get some activity around the sites content!

I believe I wrote one of the first articles... do I qualify? :)

Points started accumulating today, and unfortunately, they are not retroactive. But the next article that gets published will really send you ahead!


She's asking about Founding Member, though, which she should have since she's been registered.

Rebecca--there are still some bugs being worked out. :-)

Maybe I should read the $subject of the comment :)

Yes, the rule tha we are looking to implement is that any user who is registered with the site before midnight on Jan 25th should be assigned the Founding Members badge. It's working for some people right now and not for others.

Oh the joys of bugs and troubleshooting!

Today I don't see badges at all on the comments, but when I click through my own profile, I'm both Newbie and Founding Member, I've been awarded "Comment Gardener" (is that for reporting spam?), and whatever one-level-up-from-Newbie badge I had yesterday was removed.

Temperamental little buggers.

I had our friends at Acquia pull the badge display from comments today because they weren't behaving correctly. They should reappear within the next day our so. The current plan is to go with a text / CSS treatment instead of the images. There just isn't enough space to work with the image there and we seem to be dealing with some pixelation issues.

Acquia is working on correcting an issue where the roles (newbie, community member, etc) are out-of sync with the points accumulation. This is simply unexpected behavior for those modules.

One thing that seems to be hindering the implementation of the points-based badges is only showing one role-based badge at a time. I got an update this morning that the Aquia team is working on this as we speak.

Also, mostly for Rebecca, I awarded you the comment gardner. Thanks for helping us fight spam and correct typos!

I already see a founding member badge under your name.... as a matter of fact I see 4 badges under your name, and now that I look at my post I see one under my name as well.

She does now but didn't earlier. What shows up on a given person has been changing through the day as we iron out some kinks. :-)

Looks like you've got one! :)

Since I was someone who was a bit skeptical of point systems in the first place, and had my thinking changed somewhat during our on-list discussions about it, I thought some transparency in to that discussion would help any others who are interested in the various "why do it" thinking:

Is this node a good place to report bugs in the current badging?

For example, the badges appear a bit pixelated and distorted to me. (I can provide a screenshot if the trouble is on my side?)

I see "Founding Member" & "Community Member" people with a "Newbie" badge - it's a confusion that may not going away soon for people who are slower to comment and get the "Newbie" badge put away.

For myself, I have only a "Newbie" badge although I'm fairly sure I've authored articles, made comments, been here since before the site went live, and may even have some moderator rights in a few channels. But I hesitate to encourage everyone to pile bugs on here unless there is no other way? Mailing list is a possibility, but then I reckon some will go unreported.

I agree with Karsten that this doesn't really seem like the appropriate channel to report bugs. Surely there must be some other preferred method to report any and all bugs.

Currently, we are using our contact form to report bugs:

I agree it's not the best way, but it's what we have right now.

We are working on fixing the issue mentioned soon.
Thank you,

Any hints when "soon" will be? Despite having contributed a couple of pages of articles I still don't even have a "founding member" badge...

Interestingly it showed up just after I posted that comment for some reason (and no, I wasn't logged in so it wasn't points from that!)

Hi Simon and others,

I'm waiting on a few things from our development environment to be updated, then I plan on posting an update on the points and badges system.

There are a few kinks with the rules we deployed. However, as you may have discovered, one of the trigering mechanisms is for users to log in. I've seen a short time delay from log in to badge assignment.

In your case, what should happen, is when you log in, 3 rules should be triggered:
1) your founding member badge should be assigned if your account was registered before January 25
2) you should be assigned 10 points, which would upgrade your role to Community Member, because you joined before January 24 (1 day before the anniversary)
3) then a batch will run in the evenings to assign you the Author badge if you previously authored content--this is the only retroactive badge being assigned other than the founding members badge

Note, we started the points at o on January 24 because it was getting very complicated to go back and award points. We thought it was best to have everyone start at the same level.

I hope this helps, look for a post early next week with additional details.

Thanks, Jason. I'll watch out for those things to happen. I'm pretty sure I logged in before today, though, so there may be some bugs still lurking in the system that need running to ground.

If I get 5 points from posting a comment, i’ll just keeping posting comments. How about adjusting it to be 5 ± the rating of the comment? Then users will be encouraged to vote down spam and the problem will potentially deal with itself.
Ignoring the obvious systemgamers.

Erm. Another issue is that I can Upvote my own comments.

(Also, my hyphen from system gamers was eaten. Don’t play with peoples’ unicode!)

The current thinking is that we are limiting users to earning 10 points per day, so even if you continue to comment, your points won't increase (ie, you can't game the system).

We spent too much time thinking about how people would cheat. Is that wrong?

I guess it depends on how many comments you want per day. :)

I really dig the idea of awarding/losing points based upon votes up or down. I was thinking earlier that we needed a way to involve members in the process, given that it's merit-based...

No. Because this is the internet. ;P Gaming systems is oft considered a hobby.

The points & badges idea is super cool.

What drupal modules did you use?

An affiliates progam may be something to consider later and it would also help to get the word out about (maintainer)

Have you considered putting the code for up on github ? we could then use their bug tracking tools & wiki

Paul Booker
i <3 theopenweb

Paul, Let me add to my to-do list a future post explaing how we implemented the points and badges. We are still working out some kinks right now, so I can't promise anything this week (and maybe not even next week).


That's a good idea, at least for the source - although I'll suggest gitorious because the source code for it is free and open (unlike github currently).

However, I think we'll hear about only 1/10th (or less!) of the problems if we make people leave this site to report issues. Using the comments field is unwieldy, though. Perhaps when a comment is actually a bug, it can be filed and a new comment linking to that bug report?

I love seeing these badges on my profile. It gives incentive to participation. I like the implementation you have chosen so far.

hi folks, have you considered the Mozilla initiative It provides an open infrastructure to collect badges from different places in a badge backpack, with permissions etc. They are going to roll it out in Jan 2012. Have a look.

I do know about them, but I had thought of them as primarily being for more educational achievements that really showed you accomplished something. It does sound like our badges might qualify though. We'll check back in January when they're accepting issuers. Thanks for the suggestion!

you are welcome :) I certainly think you qualify, badges can represent anything, and I suppose the ability to write consistent, relevant, and good articles about open source is a quality to show (off).

The documentation page is a bit more explicit: and 2 other pages I find very interesting: and

If you only earned points for writing, I would definitely see it. But since you can earn points just for rating articles or leaving short comments, it didn't seem like as much of an achievement. They do give StackOverflow's version of karma as an example though, so I think that's probably similar enough that we'd count.

Thanks Thieme,

We'll check it out.

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