Gamifying with badges: A big data natural experiment on Stack Exchange

Benny Bornfeld, Sheizaf Rafaeli


Badges are a common gamification mechanism used by many crowd-sourced online systems. This study provides evidence to their effectiveness and measures their effect size using a big data natural experiment in three large Stack Exchange online Q&A sites. We analyze the introduction of 22 different badge-launch events and the resulting changes in user behavior. Consistent with earlier studies, we report that most badge introductions have the desired effect. Going beyond traditional findings on the individual level, this study measures overall badge effect size on the service.


badges; natural experiment; gamification; stack exchange; stack overflow; big data

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