I recently realised I had become a bit obsessed with increasing my StackOverflow reputation – hardly a surprise really given how close it is to the gaming concept of XP and leveling, which has caused large parts of my life to disappear into a black hole (Civ and WoW, I am looking at you).
I have been helping out on SO, mainly on the MongoDB side of things there since I joined 10gen and it has been a great learning experience as well as a great tool to use, the self moderation means that the questions (and I hope, my answers) are generally well formed and potentially useful to others. Nonsensical and lazy questions are often voted out of existence before they can cause the kind of flame war threads that are so common on normal support forums.
The obsession that the reputation and other gamification components engender though is quite intriguing, and it’s why I see things like Badgeville having a bright future. It works, it’s based on pretty well established psychological principles and it is somewhat painful to do properly if you have no experience with it. Being able to “gamify” your existing products more easily, given the success of this type of approach elsewhere, is something I think a lot of people and businesses will be looking at soon.
I do also want to note that the Office Space reference on StackOverflow, calling this picture/rating summary “flair” tickled me too