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More Badges...Always, More Badges

I am afraid that in order to fully explain my suggestion for this fine organization, I must first ask you all to indulge me in a quick story as to how this idea emerged. I shall do my best to keep it brief.

I had always been curious about the methods by which one might convince another person to do something. I was deeply intrigued by such things as the Milgram Experiment, but always found a certain lack of applicability in their findings. How might someone, for example, leverage this power to encourage others to do something besides deliver dangerous voltages upon an unsuspecting partner in an experiment? How, for example, could one leverage this great power of loyalty to authority, the desire to do right by the society to which one belongs, to convince someone to write?

I need not concoct such a plan for myself, for there is something similar already that does so with a ruthlessness typically reserved for the battlefield. No, I speak not of 750 words, and indeed, the similarity of the creation of which I do speak to this organization's objectives may not be immediately obvious. It is, however, an all-consuming addiction. It is devoid of any merit, and yet its creators profit in the billions every year off of the people whose lives it has consumed. Fearing for my own sanity, I sent a colleague of mine to investigate. He was convinced that he, always level-headed, would be immune to its siren charms. Oh, how wrong he was.

Some months after I sent him off, having received increasingly worrying reports of his interactions with the drug-like system he'd attached himself to, we met for a concluding report of its functions. I still spoke the name of that system, that creature, with a shudder of fear and revulsion. He, once, had spoken of it as though it were a great joke being played upon its millions of victims...But now, he spoke of it with almost worshipful reverence.

"World of Warcraft."

He had experienced a great deal of the monstrosities' inner workings. He told me of it, how it had ensnared him, and how it kept him even now, constantly haunting his thoughts, stealing away his ambitions. Now this monstrous system was the focus of his life. His work, once his greatest ambition, had been reduced to nothing but a vehicle for sustaining his connection to this beast. His relationship with his friends had grown more and more distant, as he instead enjoyed the company of guild members he knew of only through their voices in Ventrillo.

But he had succeeded in his mission to discover how, and he told me that night. He told me many things. Terrible things. And at the end of it all, though I implored him to sever his connection to that great beast, he, taken by its horrific majesty, refused, convinced that the thing, far from devouring his life, had somehow enriched it.

I walked away from that meeting knowing that I had lost a friend and colleague. Perhaps forever. But the knowledge I took away from it would perhaps make up for this loss in some way, for it could be turned towards good purposes as well as evil. If this knowledge could be repurposed to encourage writing via the 750 Words organization of which I am now a proud member, then I am nearly certain that the influence this simple society has could expand greatly, leading people to ever greater writing achievements.

And, when all is said and done, these people will find that their lives have been enriched, and not destroyed, for when they walk away, whether they have written 750 words or 7,000, they will have truly achieved something. Something worth doing. And perhaps, someday, this small seed of an idea shall grow and expand past 750 Words, to other organizations of similar intent but through different mediums than writing, and my friend, as well as the millions of others ensnared by the beast, shall be drawn away from it by the call of these alternatives, starving the beast and putting an end to it once and for all. One can only hope for such poetic justice.

World of Warcraft's great secret is that of automated congratulation, of stimulating false achievement in a way never before seen by mankind. But it is not simply the glow of light that accompanies an increase in level, nor the impressive titles and numbers associated with a new and more powerful piece of equipment. The secret to World of Warcraft's success is, as with so many other things, timing.

For at first, the levels and achievements in World of Warcraft come very easily. It is gratifying to see the achievements rack up so quickly, several levels gone by in just a few hours. Then, once the system has whetted your appetite thus, it will begin making its demands upon you. Things take just a bit longer, require just a bit more repetition, become just a bit less fun unto themselves. Because of this, when you do receive your reward, it seems to be more valuable than it was before, because surely, if it took more effort to achieve it, it must have more value? Within a few short months, the victim finds himself entrapped at a stage of the system where achieving a single piece of new content requires hours upon hours of uninterrupted effort and the coordination of dozens of others, all of whom will, without direct order from the system's keepers, pressure their peers into remaining, for fear that they will have to replace them in the raid group.

This "camel's nose" method can be applied as easily to 750 Words as it can to anything else, and to much better effect for society at large. The existing badges are a good start, but the timing, I fear, is a bit off. The pace needs to be faster at the beginning, the gap between Albatross and Phoenix is too much, and the various behavior badges are almost all one-shots when they could easily be expanded, in concept at least, to be tracks of their very own.

My first suggestion would be to make earning a badge more obvious and, if possible, accompanied by more fanfare. The system should immediately inform someone when they have earned a badge, displaying the artwork for the badge earned and accompanied by some kind of fanfare jingle.

Secondly, several new streak badges should be added. One for two days, another for fifty (though this one could perhaps stand to slide), another for seventy-five, another for one hundred and fifty, and a final one at three hundred and sixty five (or, one year).

Thirdly, the cheetah and hamster badge could both be expanded to include not just ten day badges, but also one day, twenty-five day, and hundred day badges.

Fourthly, the turquoise horse NaNo could both have additional badges for winning multiple challenges in a row, or completing multiple NaNoWriMo contests.

Fifthly, the Flock badges could begin much sooner, at 1,000 words, then continue on to 5,000, 10,000, 25,000, and 50,000. Two additional badges of 500,000 and 1,000,000 should be added as well, to take advantage with our culture's prefixation with having one million of just about anything.

Sixthly, the Patron could be expanded to include people who have donated at least a certain amount, starting at, say, $10, and then going up through $20, $50, $100, and perhaps even further.

Finally, two new badge types entirely could be added. Sprint badges, for writing a large amount on a single day, and marathon badges, for writing large amounts over a days- or weeks-long streak. In the case of sprint badges, you might have one for writing 1,000 words, 2,000 words, 4,000 words, and (over) 9,000 words in one day. For marathon badges, you might have similar word counts, but over the course of two, three, five, ten, thirty, fifty, seventy-five, one hundred, two hundred, and three hundred sixty-five days (the same days as my proposed 750 word streak badges, as well as the existing streak badges). The badge for writing 9,000 words every day for an entire year should be suitably named as the Roc or Ziz of badges.

I thank you for your time, and apologize for the length of this correspondence.
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  • 1
    Seconding the suggestion for, at the very least, some kind of badge that shows one has completed multiple month-long challenges. I like my turquoise horse from January, but it'd be awesome to have, say, a red horse that shows I won a second month-long challenge. Otherwise, I love the site!
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  • I agree with the more badges; how can we go about them being implemented?
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    Yeah, I love the idea of having badges for higher word counts. Some people might want to challenge themselves to write 1,000, 1500 or 2000 words each day, might there be month-long (30 Day, or 10 day) badges for achieving higher word count streaks?

    The fact is that when I write on 750, the badges are another way to create incentive, motivation and structure around the process of reflection. Any other creative ways that we could motivate people to do this would be great.

    You're doing great, we really appreciate all of the work and user-friendliness that the site provides.
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  • I’m on the edge of my seat
    2
    One could also have badges based on writing styles. 10 days of writing in an introverted/extroverted mindset (shrinking violet/gilded lily). 10 days of writing in a negative/positive mindset (black rose/white rose). 10 days of writing while concerned mostly about sex, death, money, or whatever.

    The possibilities are really exciting. Imagine trying to change your mindset for ten days in a row to earn a badge.
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    I agree that more badges are better. Badges and not wanting to break my streaks are the thing that is keeping me going here. I am the type of person who gets into something for a few weeks or months, then gives up for a while when it gets frustrating. But, having badges and stats, has helped me stay focused and reaching for those future badges. It's almost like a game really.

    venxik, those are some good ideas, but I think too many streak badges for example, could be detrimental. If you make it too easy to move up to the next badge, it makes the bagde less valuable. For example, going between the turkey (3) and penguin(5) doesn't feel as big an accomplishment as going from turkey to albatross (30).

    In my mind the more difficult it is go achieve the badge, to more valuable it becomes. It also serves as greater motivation to just 'go for it'. That being said, streak badges that are too far apart could demotivate people to. I think a gradual increase to the next streak, similar to how it is now, is the way to go. Maybe an increase of 50% between streak badges could be the way to go.

    Another idea I had was there could be a countdown until earned section on the badges. For example, I am on a 77 day streak, so on the badge page, I envision next to the phoenix badge something along the lines of "23 days until achieved!" That way you could see how close you are to earning it.

    I agree about the turquoise horse too. There should be more horses (horsepower? xD) for completing multiple monthly challenges.

    I'd also add that a badge for writing 50,000 words would help some people. Having to wait until 100,000 is slightly, not annoying, but I can't think of the word at the moment.

    I'd love to get a badge for writing an average of 1,000 words per day over ten days for example. Maybe another for 2,000, 5,000, etc. also.
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  • I was trapped by a game similar to WoW. I never really saw the damage it had done to my personal life until months after quitting it. Even to this day I still see people who were close friends that are no longer in my life because I pushed them away. Your depiction of the system is accurate and to the tee.

    Through much work and determination, I have built up what I had let crumble. Many new friends have come around to replace others lost. 750 words was a suggestion by one of them and has become a great outlet for my creative writing.

    I enjoyed reading your post and agree with you 100%.
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  • I’m excited
    Yes, more badges! More badges! lol.

    We already have a point system in place, that no one pays all that much attention to.

    Couldn't we have badges for point milestones as well??
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  • This reply was removed on 2012-02-26.
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  • Although I am highly motivated by the badges, and although I feel proud and giddy for a little while after I get one, I think that the current badge system works well.

    Although I agree with the idea that more badges more frequently in the process would increase gratification, that's not exactly what this site is about. I'm currently on a 60-day streak with an Albatross, and will be very happy to earn my Pheonix. I get impatient, sometimes, I think--but that's what this site is about. It's not about instant gratification. It's about nourishing a habit of patience and love for what you're doing.

    Once I reach the Pheonix badge (if I reach the Phoenix badge, I shouldn't jinx myself), it'll be a long time before I get the next one. But that's as it should be--the 'fanfare' in getting a badge is just as with the metaphor they're trying to evoke--they're badges, you wear them. They should be hard-earned, so that once you get there, you wear them proudly.
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  • I'd definitely like more badges! I really like the idea of badges for larger numbers of words written in a single day, as well as more badges for smaller increments of total words. Just more badges! With the current system, it's easy to slip into long periods of getting no badges because all the easier ones have been achieved. Plus, it would be nice to have more motivation to write more than the base 750 words in one day. I've written over 5,000 words on here a couple of times, which is a lot for me, and having a badge to acknowledge an achievement like that would have been nice!

    I agree with the comparison to a game like WoW, too. It's similar feeling of accomplishment.
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  • 1
    It doesn't look like they make new badges very often... you have to consider that they need to hire a designer and all that. Which is too bad.

    Badges aside, I'd actually be just as excited if a little number showed up by the existing badges to show that you've completed a challenge more than once. Like, this is your third time doing the NaNoWriMo challenge. Or this is your second time accomplishing the 100 word streak. I do NaNoWriMo every year. Sometimes I feel like doing it when it isn't November. It would be good to get recognition for more than of these accomplishments.
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  • I think its amusing about decrying World of Warcraft achievements, yet in the same breath you want to expand badges.... are you being incredibly sarcastic or what?
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  • A 1000 day streak badge would be welcomed as well...crossed that milestone the other week to no fanfare or reward.
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    How about being able to earn multiples of a certain badge? I know it was a huge accomplishment for me to successfully get the hamster and the cheetah. So if I do another 10 days with 0 distractions, I would love to earn a second hamster, or a third after that.
    The badges are key to motivation.
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  • This reply was removed on 2013-02-05.
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  • I'd like a marathon badge.

    I just sat in front of my computer for 7 hours writing without stopping (1 hour before midnight and then the next 6 hours after that). Missed like only a handful of minutes (no bathroom breaks, no eating, only sips of water every once in awhile). It was crazy fun and got me over 14,000 words in one day (of course I also found out it would only save up to 12419 words... oh well).
    so, yeah, that would be cool.
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  • I made some more badges for different lengths of days, from Double Flamingo (20) to Triple Albatross (90) with also such hybrids as Double Flamalbatross. Enjoy!
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    Perhaps we could have a badge for winning all the badges while we're at it? And then a badge for how fast you win all the badges?

    ...there is an upper limit. I like the idea of having a multiplier on the badges if you achieve them more than once (like the images above, or just adding a "2x", "3x", 4x"... at the bottom of the badge).

    I think expanding the badges to include some of the features you mention above is great, but I think it is important to not get *too* carried away - otherwise they lose their value.

    It seems like the current streak badges are great. Perhaps you would expand it to include a multiple-year badge, which could modify as the number of years increase. That would simplify the streak badge conversation a bit.

    The behavior badges could be expanded in a similar fashion. After 250k, the 500k and 1million mark seem logical badges. Outside of that the 2x, 3x, 4x, etc marks that could be added to badges that are repeated like the rooster, hamster, etc.
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  • Yeah we definitely need more badges. Sure they would be fun in the beginning as well but what concerns me is the back end. I'm still good 100 days away from Space Bird but the way things are going after I achieve that there will be nothing left. So it would be fun to see further badges beyond that line and more behavioural badges.

    There's so much potential 750words.com has to go even beyond what it is now.
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  • There may be some that aren't listed, since I got one for 500k recently that isn't on the badge list. So, mysteries! But yes, it would definitely be good to have more to work towards after Space Bird. I'm not too far off myself.
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  • I’m excited
    1
    I think it would be really neat if we could win a horse in the appropriate color for the gemstone of the month that we beat our second horse-month. So, April would be a Diamond horse, and September would be a Sapphire horse. Collect all 12!
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  • The badges are definitely very effective incentives that have kept me going. I love the "collect all 12" idea for successfully completing multiple monthly challenges. Also, getting indicators for multiple achievements of behavior badges will add additional incentive to maintain those behaviors.

    Just curious, would there be a way at some point to create a system of personal encouragement? My first thought was personal badges for things that we want to accomplish, but that may be too difficult to implement. Perhaps, a set of generic badge templates where each writer can "fill in the blank" with the reward they are going for. Progress would be tracked through metadata.

    Concrete example: reading helps writing. So, let's say I am making it a personal goal to read 10 pages per day of a novel or poems, etc. If I could set up a badge that would reward me for reading 10 or more pages daily for 30 days, then 60 days, then 100 days and so on, that would be really cool. I would record number of pages read using the metadata feature by including something like

    PAGES: 11

    on a line by itself. The system already tracks that - to have that feature linked to a personalized reward system would be truly fantastic!

    As it is, I really love this site. It has been very helpful and a great way to gaining more focus. Here's to everyone enjoying wonderful last days of summer!
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  • I’m in a good mood!
    I'm just starting but I know of a badge you need - a guinea pig "Not too bright but full of love and snacks" I have more days like that than I will admit to. :)) This is a stock image guinea pig so you know.. use it, feed it to your guinea pig, whatever...
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  • I’m amused
    Ultimately this site is about the writing, not the badges. They're a nice addition, but I don't need to develop an obsession with collecting them. Just write, people.

    "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
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  • 1
    I was surprised recently to find that there is no 1-million word badge.
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