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My initial impressions of achievements

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I've not really played around with achievements yet, but I think that's all the more reason to give this feedback now.

My initial impression as a user on this site is that it's not obvious:

  • What points are
  • How I get points, and how many points things are worth
  • How many points I have
  • How the ranks compare (beyond just that each one is higher than the previous) (ie how many points each rank is worth)
  • What I can do to unlock new badges (there's an argument that some badges should be secret, but certainly most should not)

These are the sorts of things that experienced members will figure out within a couple of weeks, and maybe all that information is available for users somewhere that I'm not immediately seeing. However, the fact that I'm not immediately seeing it is the problem. For achievements to really work they need to be walk-up usable - a new member needs to be incentivized to ask questions, to post good answers, and to come back to the site next week, and right now, it doesn't do that.

On the user menu, it highlights my rank and progress, which is great, but I want to click it and see more details. It feels weirdly non-interactive, and leaves me wanting more info.

For a good case study, take a look at Stack Overflow. I can look at all the badges, and see my progress towards them. I also see a graph of my rep (which on SO is less valuable because rep is compounding as people find your old questions, but on forums would be a more active incentive to keep increasing it).

Building on the SO example, wouldn't it be neat if achievement ranks could be configured to actually benefit you? Even the group promotion rules are conspicuously missing the ability to promote by rank. I want to set some rules like "level 1 can only use forums, level 2 can use blogs and status updates, level 3 can post news, level 4 can use classifieds, level 5 gets more messenger storage, etc", which I think would be a great way to incentivise engagement and give users a goal to work towards that is more than just a slightly different coloured icon on their profile picture.

Also, and this is borderline a bug, the default badge descriptions are inconsistent - some don't have descriptions, some have passive descriptions ("a week since joining"), some have present tense descriptions ("making your first post"), and some have past tense descriptions ("visited daily for a week"). There's also no way to edit them (which I will report as a bug).

Another thing - wouldn't it be nice if getting a badge could give you points? As far as I can see, that's not a thing at the moment.

Edited by Colonel_mortis
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