This is not strictly programming related, so I apologize. But I think this fits within the scope of this site.

We have a community site (part forum, part wiki, part knowledge base) where our users can participate in discussions, Q&As, etc. One of the things I would like to do is have some type of reward system where users feel like they are gaining something by participating. And something that gives them the incentive to come back.

Stack Overflow has reputation and badges. Digg, Propeller and Reddit have their own systems whether that be points, karma or whatever. I am thinking something that has some RPG style elements but I can't think of any good examples.

Does SO have any ideas that could be useful in this scenario?

  • 1
    Cash always works!
    – Martin
    Oct 23, 2010 at 3:16
  • The fact that SO is a web site with users doesn't make a question about user engagement relevant to SO. This is off-topic, maybe relevant to meta, but even that's iffy.
    – Marcelo Cantos
    Oct 23, 2010 at 3:23
  • This should be community wiki. Oct 26, 2010 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


The rewards you offer will really depend upon your community - obviously, SE-type sites appeal to people who want to help others, whereas other communities will likely draw different audiences.

The SE model of privilege restriction is tried and true: give new users only a small feature subset and grant access to additional features as the user develops a positive reputation.

In various incarnations this may be as simple as allowing the user to link to outside sites (great way to prevent spam, too), use a custom avatar (not uncommon for forums), get access to private betas (popular with software companies' user communities), et cetera.

Figure out why people are participating in your community first, whether conspicuous (i.e. avatars, titles, reputation ranking) or inconspicuous (i.e. private beta, VIP access to support) privileges matter more to them, then broadcast your program to ensure everyone in the user community is aware of it.

Be prepared to adapt your program over time as your user community's wants and needs change and you're set.


I know this idea can generate a lot of comments, but how about giving a specific e-book or a software or a book to the people who have commented on a particular post. I have seen this work in few blogs.

For example, if it is a book review site, you can keep the prize as a newly released copy or advanced review copy (ARC). Generate a random number based on number of comments and give the book to the people who gave that comment.

The solution needs to be customized for your community, hence I am not sure if this system will be useful for you.

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