I don’t think badges encourage participation. I don’t feel that they help people have more enriching conversations, that they encourage people to think deeply about the work they’re doing with others, or that they help contributors feel more included and part of a community because they have them. To me, they seem to be a continuation of Facebook Likes or Reddit Upvotes - ultimately tied to the platform, used as weapons of status, and ultimately arbitrary.
For years, I’ve felt like I am a wet blanket for bringing this up in the many communities I’ve been in where there are people who push badges as a method of increasing participation. I feel that, now, again. It sucks. But I still don’t feel like I’m wrong.
Do you have any proof that adding badges significantly improves the well-being and personal growth of a community’s members?
Could we use the energy to make badges to instead think of ways to engage people who aren’t on the forum to want to share their expertise and to learn from others without using arbitrary status symbols? How can we keep the conversation going outside of the Sustain event? How can we improve people’s lives by helping them either earn more money, help others get a leg up in their career, or in general improve the worth of their open source?
My phrasing here implies that badges don’t do this - I’m not saying they don’t have a small effect for some small amount of contributors who like them - but I am just curious if we can think of other means, instead.
Regarding the website redesign: whom do you feel it isn’t serving, Justin?