Don’t Explain How Gamification Systems Work To Your Members

One client’s community members have been gaming the system.

I suspect they research what platform we use, looked at which behaviors are rewarded, and then grouped together to rise rapidly.

If they hadn’t tried to occupy every position on the leaderboard, they might’ve gotten away with it (at least for a while).

Once members know precisely how points are allocated and what behaviors are rewarded they quickly optimise their behavior to match. This isn’t a good thing. If members know being endorsed as a topic expert is worth 20 points they will find 10 buddies to join and endorse them.

Give vague instructions about how the system works rather than specific ones. Focus on the intent of the system rather than the mechanics of it.

i.e. “If you create content that people like you will earn points” is better than “every like on an answer you create is worth 3 points”

“The best way to earn points is to be helpful to other members and build a good reputation amongst your peers” is a lot better than “each answer you give is worth 2 points”.

The other benefit here is it’s a lot easier to tweak and improve the system if members don’t know precisely how it works.

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