Initial Discourse badge design spec

But you don’t see a bar on each of your neighbor’s door as you walk by. Your motivation is based only on your knowledge of your own consumption specifically, and how it relates to the population as a whole, generally.

I disagree. I think its still motivating for people to know that they are achieving certain goals when they are notified personally and can continue to tally up their achievements on their own profile page.

Regardless, the designs being proposed by @codinghorror and @erlend_sh are modest enough, so perhaps there doesn’t need to be a setting after all.


For our purposes we’d probably opt for different color codes instead. Like:

  • Tier 1: Yellow 1-9
  • Tier 2: Green 1-9
  • Tier 3: Blue 1-9
  • Tier 4: Orange 1-9

It’s not immediately obvious, but as soon as you click on that avatar where it would say “Tier 3” in text somewhere, you quickly learn to associate colors with badge tiers and I believe the unconscious scan you do on everyone’s avatar would be quicker.

This method also leaves more room for fun mini-customizations, i.e. on an RPG forum the blue blob would be replaced by a shield and you’d have a seriously mean-looking one at the top tier.


We should also have a core of 10 badges that are auto-awarded for reasons that support our goal of civilized discourse. In other words, the badges encourage specific behaviors on the forum that help people have better conversations. These 10 should be exemplary, clearly excellent examples of good behaviors.

In cases of mental health troubles (regression) and account sharing i think it would be good if these were revocable.

1 - Great, though those default coloured shapes aren’t all that great for picking out who is who as many are too similar. And people prefer Red or Green.

2 - Awesome and great for all our younger members

3 - Ditto Though both #2 and 3 are open for abuse in that they don’t mean all that much to badge collectors, they can like any post, even a ‘+1’ and they don’t actually have to read the Community guidelines, simply click on it.

4 - Great teaching method

5 - Ok

6 - Probably the best idea so far

7 - Much like collecting steam game cards you can just open a topic and do your housework, come back in 5 mins and scroll down some. Taking Steam as an example. Many people with OCD are addicted to badge collecting and do it in a very militarised fashion. There are also people with sever OCD begging Steam to remove cards and badges. This can be evidenced by reading Steam discussions about badge collecting.

8 - Awesome

9 - Great as long as people don’t flag posts just to get the badge. I would guess us moderators would need to agree with the flagger. This poses a problem that if an OP is flagged and we click ‘agree + hide post’ the topic is gone forever into the digital void. Or has that system been changes since i last erroneously clicked ‘agree + hide post’?

10 - Simple and a great teaching tool for new forumites

11 - Great way to teach new members what trust level is and why they got blocked for spamming youtube links as it seems quite a few users don’t read those pop ups that D. provides.

My suggestion would be;

‘Bans on Record’ badge - An anti badge no one wants. I feel this would help younger members stay on topic and spam less. Also this may help ornery members be more polite.


‘Never Been Banned’ - This needs a more creative name. Of course this would be revoked once a ban has occured.


‘Reported a forum bug’ could be considered.

Thats all i have time for right now but will pop back later.

So do we expect people to have badge madness and potentially accumulate them in great numbers like reddit’s karma or stackoverflow’s reputation/badges? There is some value in that… people love to rack up imaginary points.

Do badges get heatmapped somehow?

The circle idea is nice and simple… I might try it on the left to accommodate more space


So is there a pop-out? can badges be color-coded and your avatar badge is relevant to the type of badge-earner you are?


No, put the badges somewhere on the usercard - don’t make a new popup with a smaller click target.

EDIT: Note that phones don’t have usercards - they just jump straight to the profile. I think tablets might have them, though.


Yeah, that’s a good point - it might be frustrating to distinguish targets… especially on mobile.

This doesn’t sound right to me. A plain number introduces more cognitive load because you have to remember what that number represents. I don’t know where this idea comes from that removing ui elements means less cognitive load, it’s actually usually the opposite. Having lots of different badges isn’t any better, though.

The indicator should be easily recognizable. To me, the current proposal looks like the notification for new messages.


I agree with @riking–two click targets in basically the same space will be hell on mobile.

Also, I don’t like the whole points thing–where doing A is worth 10 points and doing B is worth 100 points–especially for v1. That just seems far too complicated.

I don’t really like the badge count being shown on/near the avatar. Perhaps a badge for “Viewed a user card” to reinforce the idea of badges being shown there, without muddying up the left gutter.

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What about placing it under the avatar? Clicking on it would redirect to the special area on the user’s page designed for badges she/he collected.

I also like the idea of color coding the background. 0-1k green, 1001-5k yellow and so on. Although amount should be configurable, otherwise small forums will suffer :D.

My initial hesitation is that if the left sidebar gets junked up too much short posts start to take up more space than they need.

For example, my username drops on two lines and I have a title, so my single-line posts are already a bit taller than they would be otherwise… adding an additional badge below that stuff makes it worse. Granted, it’s not a huge problem… it just feels a bit wonky to me.

The reason why I don’t like the “amount representation” is because it makes badges quantitative - like Karma-Points.

While, at least in the educational context of manually out-handed awards, they should be about quality instead of quantity. As for my previous example, it doesn’t matter that one has five badges if the one proving his expertise on the context is not in there. Also my example of “weight” was not in favor of summing them up but just for the system to figure out which one are most important to show.

But I see the discussions seems to favor a quantitative system (reading examples like 3050 and 500k), though I wonder what makes it any different from a karma-points system then…


I agree, @lightyear–too much like karma or reputation. If Discourse is going to implement rep (which I honestly think would be redundant, given trust levels), it should be separate, a la SO/SE.

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I think it’s important to include both. Stackoverflow does a really good job with their bronze/silver/gold badges in the sense that yes, there’s a clear qualitative bit… but quantity is important too.

I can see this near a username in a thread and know that this person is pretty legit

and this on a profile to see why they’re legit (a bit overboard, but you get the point)

Without that you need to have a ton of badges (like foursquare) because eventually people are going to collect them all and stop caring.


These seem to be the premises of the discussion atm:

  • Earning a badge reinforces the behaviour it requires.
  • Seeing someone else has a badge raises awareness that that is a desirable behaviour.

The problem is point 2. If we turn the badges into a single number, what does that mean? All it grants you is the ability to compare how obedient two users are. I would put forth this is the least useful thing you, as a user of a small forum, would want to know… a Discourse forum is not Stackoverflow. Surely a badge system should be user-centric, allowing a user to display why they are awesome? A user should be proud of their badge, it shouldn’t be something arbitrary. So, I think a system like Steam’s would be best for users (you get to choose one badge for your profile). For this reason I think we should avoid “educational” badges like “like a post” as they don’t offer any emotional value. Instead “you’ve spent 72hrs on the forum!” or “it’s been 5 years since you joined!” or “your shared links have brought the most traffic to the forum!”

Having said that, I do think calculating a number could be very useful for the staff of a large forum. Given the number would essentially differentiate a dedicated user from a casual one, it could perhaps be useful for moderating arguments?

I’m sure I’m going to be in the minority here, and I’m sure the difference is because of the size of forum I run vs Meta or Greenheart Games… on a larger forum individualism is perhaps not so important.


Discourse already has a form of rep, insofar as how many likes your posts have received can be counted as reputation.

Continuing on that path… I think stackoverflow’s model of bronze/silver/gold can be consolidated into one simple number that shows on a post and more details live on the profile (quantitative at a glance, qualitative on the deeper dive)…

Then you can have some automatic system awarded badges and a list of default admin/mod-granted badges (and the ability to add new ones)…an “award” button can be added to posts similar to likes…

The question I have for those who are against viewing a number on a post is… how do you show reputation/awards without having to view a user’s profile page? In my mind reputation/awards that are only visible on a click/separate page are completely useless because I’m seldomly viewing profiles.

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I don’t understand what you’re doing here. Why would you put an “award” button on posts? If for manually awarded badges, surely it should go on the user’s admin profile?

I imagine you’d have both:

  • general awards that are granted on a user level
  • awards given to users for making really good posts (commendations)

maybe that’s superfluous though?

I think so. At that point you’re basically talking about likes.

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