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Encouraging User Behaviour With Achievements: An Empirical Study

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MSR2013 Mining Challenge Award


Stack Overflow, a question and answer website, uses a reward system called badges to publicly reward users for their contributions to the community. Badges are used alongside a reputation score to reward positive behaviour by relating a user’s site identity with their perceived expertise and respect in the community. A greater number of badges associated with a user profile in some way indicates a higher level of authority, leading to a natural incentive for users to attempt to achieve as many badges as possible. In this study, we examine the publicly available logs for Stack Overflow to examine three of these badges in detail. We look at the effect of one badge in context on an individual user level and at the global scope of three related badges across all users by mining user behaviour around the time that the badge is awarded. This analysis supports the claim that badges influence user behaviour by demonstrating an increase in user activity related to a badge immediately before it is awarded when compared to the period afterwards.
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