Forem Creators and Builders 🌱

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Ella (she/her/elle) for Forem Community Success

Posted on • Updated on

What is your favorite way to reward your community members?

Hey Forem Creators, it's over to you!

We would love to hear how you're running your communities, engaging your members, and most of all today...

What does your community reward, and what do those rewards look like?
Bonus points for sharing a little more about why you've chosen that system of rewards, or the lessons you've learned along the way.

Today's question is inspired by this comment on a feature request by @ildi:

Screenshot of Ildi's question on GitHub

Top comments (25)

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ildi profile image
Ildi

For the short period of time that I spent running my Forem community, I did not get to use badges but I totally support the idea and would like to experiment with them in the near future.

I think running contests and doing giveaways can also be valuable. I really like how at the end of a year, Forem + DEV mails out thank you letters and really awesome stickers as a reward for being a highly engaged user.

One idea I've been exploring is the creation of a community token (erc-20, using a cheap gas chain like Polygon which can also be bridged back to Ethereum). This obviously turns off some folks who are totally against crypto, but it could be a useful way to reward engagement/participation. The token can also be used for governance and collective decision making. The community I am thinking of building would be invite-only and when you first join, we airdrop you a certain amount of tokens. After that, when users earn new badges for different achievements, we can also airdrop tokens to them. The more difficult it is to earn a badge, the more tokens you get. From there, it's possbile to provide more utility to token holders but i'll leave that for another discussion.

Side-note: the new community I want to build is called Indie Artists and the domain I got for it is indieartists.xyz (not live yet).

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

Loving the side-note! Please feel free to tag us in for any assistance we can provide here.

I gotta admit I'm a sucker for a giveaway. What have you won in a giveaway that you've been most excited about? I'm gonna see whether some of the Forem Team have any stories here - @carolineschettler and @jamie ? Best giveaway prizes ever?

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ildi profile image
Ildi

Im glad you liked the side-note 😇 couldn't resist teasing Indie Artists on here, but i've been planning and I will be sharing more info with you soon!

Some of my favorite giveaways have been things like books, music albums, merch, and event/concert tickets. I remember back in 2009 I won this giveaway that included a book by Eminem, The Way I Am, featuring private reflections, drawings, handwritten lyrics, and photographs. To my surprise, the giveaway also included a CD copy of every single official album release by Eminem up until that year. Im a big hip-hop fan so this was a really awesome reward for me!

Another one that stood out to me was back in 2018, I was accepted in YC Startup School Online program and they gave us $20k+ in credits to use on services like DigitalOcean. The credits had to be used within 12 months but I remember putting them to good use, so that was very helpful.

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

a book by Eminem, The Way I Am, featuring private reflections, drawings, handwritten lyrics, and photographs. To my surprise, the giveaway also included a CD copy of every single official album release by Eminem

This is a really dope surprise! The book itself was a good prize, but it was amazing that you got all the albums too (and in 2009, CDs were still everything)!

$20k+ in credits to use on services like DigitalOcean

$20k on DO in 12 months is a lot of stuff!

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carolineschettler profile image
carolineschettler

I won a first gen iPad at a school raffle in the early 2010s! Felt super cool - it was my first way to connect with the internet outside of a desktop.

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Ella (she/her/elle) Author

I love the #tbt vibes we're getting from these prize retrospectives!

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thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

Rewarding people with special badges or stickers is for me a very good idea.

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

@thomasbnt I've noticed a few people on DEV recently expressing frustration at how easy it is to game the system for certain automatic rewards, like posting streaks. What are your thoughts here? Do you prefer to receive badges which you have earned by working towards a goal, or do you prefer to receive random badges?

I can see pros and cons for both, so I'm curious what you think. Also tagging @ildi and @lee and @ben in here, since you've all shared some of your own favourites 😊

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thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

I had already seen some discontent about this a few weeks ago but I didn't think it would have been followed up.

Personally, I prefer to have rewards manually, because automatically it gives a feeling that the task is not so important and that it's just a bot that gives you the prize.

After that, I doubt that doing it manually every day is an easy task. It would depend on which category. Indeed, if it's streaks, it's encouraging to produce more posts, but is it really good articles or only content published to get the next badges?

You see as I do the concern for automatism.

Encouraging, but can be a way to spam.

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ildi profile image
Ildi

I think the community does need to set some rules and explicitly state that low quality content may not be counted and badge rewards can be revoked if a user is found to be gaming the system by making spam posts just to get badges. But this can be subjective because the line can get blurry between what is and isnt low quality/spam content.

With that being said I think there should be a balance between automatic + manually rewarded badges. As an admin, I would carefully think about how someone can game the system and do stuff that discourages those actions.

I guess we should ask, what are some really good reward systems within websites/apps/platforms? In particular im interested in finding out which systems do automatic rewards that users really enjoy. Im personally not overly excited about Reddit karma or their new Community Points. On Discord it seems like rewarding users with unique roles is a popular way to incentivize members.

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

Im personally not overly excited about Reddit karma or their new Community Points.

Lol, same! Even so, it appears that enough people are that they write posts for it. I guess every system appeals to somebody? It's just a question of who your community's "somebody" is (or who you want them to be 😉

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ildi profile image
Ildi

I've mostly been a lurker on Reddit, so maybe that's why i do not see much value in their karma system. Would be interesting to speak with someone who does enjoy their system.

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lee profile image
Lee

I tend to build a running dialog with early adopters and good content creators, keep in touch, these people become friends, end up on regular chats etc. I ask opinions, feedback, get to know them better and build a really good relationship.

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Ella (she/her/elle) Author

I love how you're investing in their time and effort with your own time and effort!

A question for you: do you feel this is scalable? Or do you think there's a limit to how much of yourself you can continue to pour back into your communities? If so, what do you think a solution to this might be?

I'm wondering if @oli has some hot takes here, from the Forest community, or whether it's different for a community like Zig News @kristoff?

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oli profile image
Oli • Edited on

Me and Julie started with the same approach. Our early users were people we knew IRL and asked them to create content as often as they could but I agree this is not scalable. We understood that building a community from scratch wasn't going to be easy. It'll take a while before the wheels start moving by themselves without our intervention.

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

We understood that building a community from scratch wasn't going to be easy. It'll take a while before the wheel start moving by themselves without our intervention.

The wheel analogy comes up a lot in discussions about community building and engagement! It's a helpful way to think about how contributions and participation grow in a community space.

Thanks for sharing, Oli! What did you and Julie decide your approach was going to be in the end? Did you keep your efforts constant, or have you even eased off a little?

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oli profile image
Oli

We were constant at the begining but have eased off a bit after we decided to work on long form posts because we felt that would be more meaningful. Unfortunately writing long posts involves a lot of research and takes time.

We also didn't want to continue bothering friends to contribute content. So overall the amount of engagement has dropped off.

We've recently started to think of ways to engagement people who sign up of their own volition but don't contribute.

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lee profile image
Lee

Oh defo not scalable, enjoying it during the early days I think, I will prob then move onto something else a bit more imaginative that suits the community dynamic (whatever that might be). I think what’s happening in the nft space with tokenomics based rewards is hugely interesting, Rug Radio is a prime example of token rewards based on creator/community engagement.

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ildi profile image
Ildi

Rug Radio is a prime example of token rewards based on creator/community engagement.

I gotta do some reading on Rug Radio, thanks for sharing! I love learning about decentralized communities and media platforms.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

The opportunity to reach a lot of people, sometimes quickly, is one hell of a reward.

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ildi profile image
Ildi

This is a great reward for a community with lots of traffic. Im curious if you got similar reactions when DEV had less than 10k members?

I guess the same can be true for smaller communities with very active members and lively discussions. Like id personally be excited to get 100 views + 20-30 comments on an article within 24hrs.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Just getting one tweet often went just as far. That official @-mention goes a long way to making people feel like they had an impact with their post, even when the views were small.

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lee profile image
Lee

Absolutely! Or when you find out a member has their Forem profile URL in their Twitter bio 🤯

These little wins really do give you the confidence and persistence to keep going even when it looks like nobody is watching.

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ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle) Author

You're right @ben - there's a lot of good feelings and reward in simply connecting with others or even peer validation.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

I think a lot of folks really appreciate recognition as a reward!

I know on DEV we have a various processes to give shoutouts to content creators. Two that come to mind are:

1) Our Top 7 posts & Newsletter Inclusion — Each week, we manually pick out 7 posts in our community that we think were particularly awesome and we create a post + newsletter to give these folks a shoutout. Just take a peek through #icymi to get a sense of these posts. A few things that we do with this post are we give an @mention to folks in the post and an extra @mention in the comments section. This way we can feel confident that they'll see it! We also amplify this same list in our weekly newsletter. Lastly, we give them a Top 7 badge and $50 credit to our shop!

2) Twitter shoutouts! — Take a look at our Twitter account, @thepracticaldev, and you'll notice that a lot of our tweets generally take on a uniform format. In particular, we give the post author an @mention whenever sharing their post on social. This is beneficial to the author — it boosts their signal + acts as an endorsement from us — but, it's also beneficial to DEV in that it hopefully helps grow our community by bringing more readers to the site.

The thing about these two tactics is that it rewards folks for doing something that they already wanted to do. We don't truly know their goals for posting, but we can generally assume that they likely want their post to be read. Giving them public recognition will hopefully point other readers to their post and help with that goal!