Beta points and badge system |

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

About the author

Jason Hibbets
Jason Hibbets - Jason Hibbets is a Principal Program Manager at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications. He is the author of The foundation for an open source city and has been with Red Hat since 2003. Follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets for a fun and shareable feed of his open source (and...