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One of the interesting things about Stack Exchange is the badge system. I think it makes things more fun and competitive, while encouraging users to work and help the community.

I was wondering where this idea came from, and if our badge system was inspired by some other group/technology. I know that this is an old reward system within the military, but I wonder who first brought it to a virtual community.

FourSquare, Empire Avenue and other social networks have implemented their own badge systems that work very similarly to ours, and I can't help thinking that they were influenced by Stack Exchange.

Did we copy this system from somebody else?

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Last time I checked, they were inspired by Xbox Achievements. – NullUserException อ_อ Oct 20 '11 at 16:26
Ok, but was it a conscious decision like "Let's do something like Xbox Achievements!" ? – karlphillip Oct 20 '11 at 16:30
The university of wisconsin campus police. ("Where are your badge(rs)?") – Rosinante Oct 20 '11 at 18:56
up vote 7 down vote accepted

A recent Jeff blog on Gamification suggests that badges may well be inspired by the Xbox 360 achievements...

When Joel Spolsky and I set out to design the Stack Exchange Q&A engine in 2008 -- then known as Stack Overflow -- we borrowed liberally and unapologetically from any online system that we felt worked. Some of our notable influences included:

  • Reddit and Digg voting
  • Xbox 360 achievements
  • Wikipedia editing
  • eBay karma
  • Blogs and blog comments
  • Classic web bulletin boards
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+1 Awesome reference. Thanks – karlphillip Oct 20 '11 at 16:31

As NullUserException noted in the comment and davidsleeps noted in the other answer, this was inspired by the XBox:

As I mentioned in Podcast #13 (and probably earlier), Stack Overflow will feature a system of badges. Hopefully the non-stinking type. These badges are based on my admiration — and addiction to — the Xbox 360 Achievements system.

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+1 I guess I need to start reading the blog as well. Thanks! – karlphillip Oct 20 '11 at 16:32

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