Steering user behavior with badges

  title={Steering user behavior with badges},
  author={Ashton Anderson and Daniel P. Huttenlocher and Jon M. Kleinberg and Jure Leskovec},
  journal={Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on World Wide Web},
An increasingly common feature of online communities and social media sites is a mechanism for rewarding user achievements based on a system of badges. [] Key Method We introduce a formal model for reasoning about user behavior in the presence of badges, and in particular for analyzing the ways in which badges can steer users to change their behavior. To evaluate the main predictions of our model, we study the use of badges and their effects on the widely used Stack Overflow question-answering site, and find…

Figures from this paper


The optimal design of a system of badges for a designer whose goal is to maximize contributions is studied and it is shown that the optimal total contribution can be well-approximated with a small number of badges.

Badge System Analysis and Design

This paper will study an existing badge system launched inside a real-world online social network, Foursquare, and study how to design the badge system that can incentivize the maximum users' contributions to the social networks.

Social Status and Badge Design

This paper considers a game-theoretic model where users exert costly effort to make contributions and, in return, are awarded with badges, and shows that among all possible mechanisms for assigning status-driven rewards, the optimal mechanism is a leaderboard with a cutoff.

Incentives, gamification, and game theory: an economic approach to badge design

A game-theoretic approach to badge design is taken, analyzing the incentives created by widely-used badge designs in a model where winning a badge is valued and effort is costly, and potential contributors to a site endogenously decide whether or not to participate, and how much total effort to put into their contributions to the site.

Gamified Incentives: A Badge Recommendation Model to Improve User Engagement in Social Networking Websites

A badge recommendation model based on item-based collaborative filtering which recommends the next achievable badges to users is developed which calculates the correlation between unachieved badges and users’ previously awarded badges.

Social badge system analysis

An existing badge system launched in a real-world online social network, Foursquare, is studied, which is modeled as the “badge values” in this paper in order to understand users' badge achievement activities better.

One Size Does Not Fit All: Badge Behavior in Q&A Sites

This paper provides a predictive model of how users change their activity group over the course of their lifetime in the badge system, as modeled by the rate and intensity of the user's contributions.

The Phantom Steering Effect in Q&A Websites

It is argued that while badges might contribute toward a suite of effective rewards in an online system, research into other aspects of reward systems, such as Stack Overflow's reputation points, should become a focus of the community.

On the Causal Effect of Badges

This paper introduces a novel causal inference framework for first-time badges whose main technical innovations are a robust survival-based hypothesis testing procedure, which controls for the heterogeneity in the benefit users obtain from taking an action, and a bootstrap difference-in-differences method, which control for the random fluctuations in users» behavior over time.

One size does not fit all: A study of badge behavior in stack overflow

This article provides a predictive model of how users change their activity group over the course of their lifetime in the badge system, as modeled by the rate and intensity of the user's contributions.



Incentivizing high-quality user-generated content

A game-theoretic model within which to study the problem of incentivizing high quality UGC, in which contributors are strategic and motivated by exposure, and has the feature that both the quality of contributions as well as the extent of participation is determined endogenously in a free-entry Nash equilibrium.

Query incentive networks

  • J. KleinbergP. Raghavan
  • Computer Science
    46th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS'05)
  • 2005
A model for query incentive networks, motivated by systems where users seeking information or services can pose queries that are propagated along paths in a network, and shows that strategic interaction in incentive propagation exhibits critical behavior when the branching parameter is 2.

Plugged in to the community: social motivators in online goal-setting groups

This work examines the influence of two social factors in an online "songwriting challenge" community: early feedback evoking a shared social identity, and one-on-one collaborations with other members.

Causal discovery in social media using quasi-experimental designs

Three different QEDs are applied to demonstrate how one can gain a causal understanding of a social media system and the conclusions drawn can have threats to their validity, but it is shown how one could carefully construct sophisticated designs to overcome some of those threats.

The Influence of Loyalty Programs and Short-Term Promotions on Customer Retention

Despite the proliferation of loyalty programs in a wide range of categories, there is little empirical research that focuses on the measurement of such programs. The key to measuring the influence of

Badges in Social Media: A Social Psychological Perspective

Representing achievements as badges or trophies is a standard practice in online gaming. Awarding badges has also become a key ingredient in “gamifying” online social media experiences. Social

The Economic Viability of Frequency Reward Programs in a Strategic Competitive Environment

We examine the conditions that enhance the economic viability of frequency reward programs in a strategic competitive environment. We focus particularly on conditions related to consumer behavior,

Incentives for Learning: Why American High School Students Compare so Poorly to Their Counterparts Overseas

Excerpt] The scientific and mathematical competence of American high school students is generally recognized to be very low. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports that only

Policy teaching through reward function learning

This paper considers the specific objective of inducing a pre-specified desired policy, and examines both the case in which the agent's reward function is known and unknown to the interested party, presenting a linear program for the former and formulating an active, indirect elicitation method for the latter.

On Bitcoin and red balloons

A brief report of recent research on information distribution mechanisms in networks, namely Bitcoin, and proposes reward schemes that will remedy an incentives problem in Bitcoin in a Sybil-proof manner, with little payment overhead.