Badges are commonly used in online platforms as incentives for promoting contributions. It is widely accepted that badges “steer” people's behavior toward increasing their rate of contributions before obtaining the badge. This paper provides a new probabilistic model of user behavior in the presence of badges. By applying the model to data from thousands of users on the Q&A site Stack Overflow, we find that steering is not as widely applicable as was previously understood. Rather, the majority of users remain apathetic toward badges, while still providing a substantial number of contributions to the site. An interesting statistical phenomenon, termed “Phantom Steering,” accounts for the interaction data of these users and this may have contributed to some previous conclusions about steering. Our results suggest that a small population, approximately 20%, of users respond to the badge incentives. Moreover, we conduct a qualitative survey of the users on Stack Overflow which provides further evidence that the insights from the model reflect the true behavior of the community. We argue that while badges might contribute toward a suite of effective rewards in an online system, research into other aspects of reward systems, such as Stack Overflow's reputation points, should become a focus of the community.
|Name||Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM|
|Conference||20th IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM 2020|
|Period||17/11/20 → 20/11/20|
- Virtual badges
- goal-gradient hypothesis
- amortized inference