Advertise status

Encourage users to build and advertise their status within a community.

Examples

  • Online communities require participation in order to be useful, fun places to hang out. With increased participation comes an increased requirement to police what is being discussed. While people employed by the community provider to prevent abuse must undertake some of this policing, other community members will often want to step in to an informal overseer role. It makes sense to encourage this as much as possible. It appears that most of the time, status is a sufficient reward for these individuals. In other words, they are doing a job that would normally require payment, just for the opportunity to have the title of “moderator.”

Principles

In the real world, people advertise their status by the clothes they wear, the cars they drive and even the places they choose to congregate. Online, many of those cues aren’t available, so they are replaced instead with other (potentially more democratic) measures of status such as reputation.
Reputation can be summarized in different ways depending upon the online context. For instance in online games it might be the level and experience points that a character possesses. In social media circles it might be the number of “likes”, recommendations, mentions, back links, badges or followers. In forums, it might be the number of posts or thanks received.

How to use this pattern

  • People care about their status, and the status of others in the environment. Make sure it’s easy for them to show and see the status of people they interact with.
  • If you want to migrate to a new forum system, or entice forum moderators from a different platform, make sure that you give them an equal or better status in the new system.
  • Try to make the status worthwhile achieving. For instance, in forums, status can also come with access to more tools such as the ability to ban users and promote, edit, or move postings.
  • Higher status levels should require an element of work to achieve. The highest levels should be relatively exclusive in order to make them more desirable.

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