We try to walk the line in terms of the badges being a fun thing that make contributions to the community feel more rewarding without making it as upfront and 1:1.
Within the badges, we don't want it to feel like grinding, but it definitely seems like you're feeling that way with the streak badge and we'll take that into account. We introduced the streaks for folks who wanted the extra push for mild self-accountability which is why we launched it along with New Years.
We are against displaying follow counts because it seems like that creates some unhealthy comparison and black-hat gamification in a lot of ways. I definitely feel like I'm grinding for followers on other platforms at times. Hopefully the badges are a bit more like bonuses on top of behavior you'd otherwise enjoy doing.
What about the idea of "pausing" your streak for periods so it relieves the pressure? This could be a complicated feature so it wouldn't go in right away, but we're all for keeping this light and healthy.
I didn't realize there were streak badges until I got the 8-week one -- somehow I missed the notice for the 4-week one. Obviously they aren't what motivate me to write, but I understand it could motivate others.
It's hard to say where the balance is between a reward, and punishment. I would certainly think a 32-week badge clearly crosses that line though -- since it requires a significant commitment to achieve.
The thing about streaks is that they reset if you fail, making it daunting to achieve again. Compare this to some of the most difficult trophies on PlayStation -- they don't reset, you can always pick up again.
So perhaps pausing might make sense, but then it wouldn't encourage people to write weekly. An option would be to consider the average article count, but then again, not weekly.
Another thing to consider is that badges end up becoming elite as the user-base grows. Those Top7 and Top5 badges I have are increasingly difficult to obtain.
Maybe if it instead was "post 3 weeks in a row x amount of times"? And have 4 weeks count as 2, 5 weeks as 3 etc.
That way you would only lose two weeks of progress if you take a break while in a streak.
Could maybe also allow two consecutive week breaks before it breaks the combo. This would allow people to post only once every one, two, or three weeks as they please, but still give incentive to post every week since it makes the combo increase faster.
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