As someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time researching game design and gamification, my feelings on gamification are... conflicted. What it really boils down to, is that gamification is a tool. It can be used for good (incentivizing people to stick to their goals) or evil (addicting people to "games" that are nothing but Skinner boxes).
In regards to Dev.to's badges system... I honestly didn't know it existed until I read this post. I definitely feel like they have a valid purpose, but the concerns over them is understandable. If they were listed next to your name on every post, I think there would be a legitimate concern over your number of badges indicating a sense of validity. But with them only being visible to people who visit your profile page, I think that problem is mostly avoided.
Does the site notify you of badges you can chase, or do you only learn about them via visiting other people's profiles? I don't really agree with the former, since it can cause a sense of obligation that's mentioned in the OP. The latter would mean that you're only really interacting with the badges if you want to. Maybe the first badge you earn should be notified to you, and that notification would include an opt-in to be notified about further badges you earn and can earn?
I was informed of the 16-week badge when I got the 8-week one. It was worded to convince me to reach the 16-week streak. It was not voluntary.
I agree where the badges are shown make a difference. I think about Twitter, where if you hover over a name it shows you how many followers they have. People do appear to use that of validity of the opinion.
I think rewards should be designed with a clear purpose, and then followup should be done to see if it's meeting that purpose.
If it gave you the option to opt-in before informing you about the 16-week badge (assuming you agreed to opt-in to badge notifications), would you have felt better about it?
I'm really not fond of sites publicly displaying how many people follow you or putting your badges anywhere outside of your profile page. They're both just forms of peacocking that don't actually provide anything positive to the community. If anything, it encourages toxic forms of competition.
I've seen some that allow you to choose a single badge to display alongside your username on posts, I'm relatively okay with that setup. I wouldn't advocate for it though.
That's an interesting point. I think a great solution could be to make streak badges private only! If the point is to encourage writing, just personally seeing this would do so. I have habit apps on my phone that run on similar concepts. I use them because it does actually work. But the world doesn't need to see that info in order for them to encourage action from me.
Some public badges could be community-based type badges. Like the SheCodes one. Or maybe a badge for someone who helped someone else. Or badges for Mentors because that's a really great thing to do.
Things that encourage positive actions towards each other. :)
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