Why I Don’t Like Gamification

Originally posted elsewhere in October 2012. Thank you to Timehop for resurfacing it. Still as true for me today as ever.

The other day, I tweeted this:

Do X years of experience make you an expert? Is your whole reputation reflected in # of status points? This is why I don’t like gamification.

Here’s the story behind the tweet:

The customer community that I manage has a built-in status points system (we use Jive). Status points are earned by different activities done in the community, such as posting documents or having an answer you provide marked as “correct” or “helpful”. Different status levels, from “Getting started” to “Super Cyberhero”, are reached as more points are earned.

An employee who is a community member emailed me to request:

My status level is at Level Two out of Five and I’m not able to change it. This can be misleading to customers who may not know who I am, and who may judge my expertise based on my status level. Can you override the point system and update my status to the highest level? This will give them more trust in my expertise.

My response to this has two parts: one part technology, and one part earned trust.

On the technology side, the status level graphic can be replaced with another graphic, such as “Employee”. This is something we have considered implementing, but haven’t done so.
Pro: This would clearly mark which community members are company employees.
Con: The indicator of how many points an employee has earned would be removed.

Which brings me to earned trust. Even if I *could* override the earned status points* and change the person’s status to the highest level, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. Should I update his status to “Expert”? I don’t know – *is* he an expert? I don’t feel qualified to make that designation. Does having built a product make you an expert on it? Maybe…. or maybe not. Should all employees be marked as Experts? Probably not. Then how would we decide who is, or who isn’t, an Expert? Who would decide?

The points system reflects a member’s *actual* activity in the community. Points are earned when content is contributed, and when other members provide recognition. I think it would be appropriate to mark employee profiles with a graphic in addition to reflecting the points earned. To simply change the status to the highest level would be more misleading – it would imply that the member was more active in the community than he actually is.

Maybe I am biased. I don’t consider myself a gamer, and am not particularly motivated by points and badges. I do understand that game mechanics can provide excellent support for desired behaviors, such as healthy eating or getting household chores done. My favorite gamification success story is Speed Camera Lottery: instead of just penalizing speeders, the camera captures drivers who obey the speed limit and rewards them with the potential to win cash (funded by the speeding ticket fines). Brilliant! This is a game I can get behind!

But racking up numbers just for the sake of numbers – number of LinkedIn connections, Facebook ‘like’s, badges – seems to be missing meaning. What is the desired behavior that is being supported? Or, whose desired behaviors?

And to elevate a member’s status points so that his contributions will be more accepted or respected… sorry, no can do. Those points – that trust – must be earned.

* I’m sure the points can be overriden. Thank you in advance if you want to teach me how. But I’m not interested in going there.

Sharing. It works!!

The other day, I re-shared a Tiny Buddha post about respecting and accepting our own desires and intuitions. I’ve been doing a lot more consuming and re-sharing these days, rather than blogging, and I’d been questioning the value. Seeing myself referenced here in my friend Tracy’s “Less is More” post was a total surprise. Thank you, Tracy, for reaffirming that sharing works. Sharing can help others in ways that we can’t predict or imagine. ❤

tracymmaurer

lessAfter a stint of furious blogging (well, for me anyway), I’ve been finding it hard to do a post at all. I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. I’ve heard it argued that if you give yourself the goal of posting once a week, you’ll find something to say. But I’ve watched others who make it a regular habit, and I would have to say that not everything they post really needed to be said. Maybe for them it did – I guess I shouldn’t really judge their efforts. But for me, I want whatever I write to be worthwhile. I don’t want to create a post just because I promised myself I would.

Yes, there is something to be said for consistency of timing. I would prefer to be known for consistency of (or at least above average) quality. I hope to limit the number of times…

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Somewhere After The Rainbow (Moving Beyond Profile Pics)

After the events of the past week in the US – the marriage equality ruling and the Charleston hate crime – I have been wondering what can *I* personally do to help effect positive change. This is new territory for me. I’m grateful for Pastor John Pavlovitz’s suggestion:

“Laws and amendments and judicial rulings can change policy, but only relationships can alter people. I’m inviting those with rainbow profile photos (and those who echo their sentiments) to engage those of differing opinions, who are willing to have a conversation; not a public, passive-aggressive volleying of Scripture quotes and personal jabs and article shares, but an honest, open, fully vulnerable exchange.

That’s the only way we move forward from here, the only way we can fashion something deeper and more lasting and more worthy of co-owning.”

john pavlovitz

Rainbow Heart

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Marriage finally came down last week—and both Hell and Heaven broke loose, depending on your perspective.

Exhilaration soon followed for those seeing this as a long overdue victory for civil marital equality, while outrage reigned for religious folks believing it to be the final nail in the coffin of Biblical Matrimony.

And there was of course, a flurry of sentiments from both sides on social media; effusive celebration and grief-laden hand wringing flying in as fast as your browser could refresh.

Yet nothing in all of those eloquent words from either side, spoke as clearly and loudly as the brilliant prismatic display of love and affirmation found in the rainbow profile photos now dominating timelines worldwide. That’s been the most visible, most revelatory element of the past week, with over 26 million people already choosing to “Amen” the Supreme Court’s decision using their own images.

Perhaps the most telling aspect, is that these multicolored flags haven’t just been flown by the LGBT…

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One More Rainbow

Image source: @BarackObama

Image source: @BarackObama

I felt so much joy seeing all the rainbows filling up my Internet feeds today. I clicked “like” on the news stories and expressions of joy and support for marriage equality. At first, I didn’t re-share any of the stories or images. Sometimes I’ll re-share a news story in order to get the word out, in case someone might have missed the news. In this case, I seriously doubted anyone had missed this news, regardless of their opinion on the issue. I also felt that, because “likes” are visible, people following me could – and would – see that I was “liking” the news of today’s ruling. I thought, “Do people really need to see one more rainbow, supplied by me?”

And then I remembered something I read a few days ago, related to the Charleston hate crime and the continued work we as a society need to do to fight racism. Karen Walrond invites us to Say Something:

…if you truly want to fight racism, then please, speak out against racism.  Make it clear, in your own words — not just retweeting or resharing the words of Jon Stewart or someone else — tell folks how you feel.  Take a stand, for heaven’s sake.  (But then, after you’ve done that, do freely share articles and posts and links to organizations that fight racism. Amplify, amplify, amplify. Because frankly, those of us who are of colour need white voices to help amplify the cause.)

After remembering Karen’s words, I did make a start by re-sharing a rainbow image celebrating marriage equality. But I realized that my own words were missing. Here they are:

I am so happy that the freedom to marry* is now legal for same-sex couples across the nation! I have seen the hurtful effects of discrimination of all kinds – individual, legal, and institutionalized. I have often wondered, lamented, and felt hopeless about the possibility of change. Today’s ruling shows that change CAN happen. It is proof of hopefulness and perseverance in the face of hate, exclusion, and daunting odds. 

And I can hear the mental tapes of my childhood upbringing saying, “Don’t post a rainbow online! What if someone targets you?” To those voices, I say, “Just think if I were gay. Would you still tell me to hide?”

Time to celebrate!!
#lovewins #marriageequality #NOH8 #chooselove #onefamily #diversity #inclusion

*Great post here on the difference between “right to marry” and “freedom to exercise that right”

Image credit: @BarackObama https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/614459251126173697

The Chokehold of Calendars

image

An older Medium post by Mike Monteiro and still a goodie:
https://medium.com/@monteiro/the-chokehold-of-calendars-f70bb9221b36

Why are you letting other people put things on your calendar? The time displayed on your calendar belongs to you, not to them. “I’m adding a meeting” should really be “I’m subtracting an hour from your life.”

I vividly remember the confusion I felt when I was told, “Just add an appointment to someone’s calendar. We all do it here.” This was on Day One or Day Two of my new job. My manager had thoughtfully provided a list of people that I should meet. “How should I initially approach them?” I asked. “Just add yourself to their calendar,” he said. I was horrified. How presumptuous! What a way to make a first impression. “Hi! You don’t know me. And this feels crazy. But here’s my calendar invite!” I think I’d rather show up at their cube singing Call Me Maybe!