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What are the pros and cons of gamifying Codidact.org?
https://meta.codidact.com/posts/281235 - A post about easter eggs that promises to build one for April 1st of next year. Is this site interested in gamification or a serious Q&A Platform? Is this a community interested in properly celebrating fools' day or interested in helping others learn? Anything in between won't work, since it has already failed (StackOverflow.com is a bad example in this post, since it got nothing right).
Gamification (using upvotes, downvotes and reputation) does not allow us to have a serious Q&A Platform. Case study: StackOverflow.com is too focused on gamification, and this has negatively affected the Q&A goal of the site. Stack Overflow users are incentivized to gain upvotes, so they try to come up with impressive questions of no practical value, or they enjoy writing cheesy, sarcastic comments on posts to get upvotes on comments. I've also observed the behaviour of including unnecessary and factually incorrect content intended as a joke in otherwise correct answers, to get more upvotes and extra attention.
Gamification is just a marketing tactic to get people to participate on a commercial platform so that advertisements can be sold. Serious platforms don't need gamification to survive because they will survive out of interest in the community. I have visited and participated in serious forums like accellera.org's SystemC forum that has a razor-sharp focus with minimal to no gamification. No nonsense on Accellera's forum. No advertisements are sold on Accellera's forum. See for example: https://forums.accellera.org/forum/14-systemc-tlm-transaction-level-modeling/ User profiles look like this: https://forums.accellera.org/profile/11808-roman-popov/
This forum is built by professional engineers and for professional engineers, so it is very serious and no sarcastic comments or abusive behaviour is found or tolerated. Professional engineers have very good interpersonal skills since they work in teams.
If fun is encouraged or kept as a gray area, those who object to fun will be ridiculed and trolled heavily. Those siding with fun engage in trolling the serious users. I have a real-time example of this behaviour on Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange. See: https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/473120/whats-this-noise
The borderline between 'fun' and abusive behaviour will be very narrow or blurry. People enjoy having fun at another person's expense. But from another perspective, it is rude and abusive behaviour.
Another behaviour observed due to gamification is downvoting a correct answer that competes with your own. Top users seldom upvote correct answers for fear of losing their top position.
Another very negative behaviour due to gamification and "fun" is this: Generally it is the "very high reputation" users and moderators who feel they have a right to have cheesy content, sarcastic content on the Q&A platform and get away with it. Since "high reputation" users have more "privileges" or "abilities", the "low reputation" users cannot question them. When the low reputation users question them for their behaviour, the high reputation users and moderators take "disciplinary action" on the low reputation users, like suspending them or labelling them or deleting their posts. This was witnessed on the Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange and Stack Overflow, both of which are clearly not serious enough to be an engineering Q&A site.
When the sites are not serious enough, the experts lose interest and leave the platform. The platform then evolves to become a "monkey circus" where there is no real difference between the "high rep" and "low rep" users, since the real experts have already left. Only those interested in fun and in increasing reputation points remain. No serious answers containing code that is secure and actually runs will be found on such a low quality platform. No circuit that is efficient and actually works will be found on such a platform. See https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7958574
I have made a study of the inherent weakness in the design of Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange. This can be found here: https://github.com/ShashankVM/meta_stack
Update: I have found the weakness of this site, and I am disclosing it here, so it may be fixed and so other users can see it:
- As Mithical says in their answer:
"gamification" is a bit of a different concept from "fun".
While it is true they are slightly different concepts, it is also true that they are intertwined. I will quote the post "A note on April 1st" which is seen as "fun" and not gamification by Mithical:
Therefore, for your own safety: DO NOT try to enter any secret code on April 1st. DO NOT play the game ('cause there is none). DO NOT post your high scores in this thread (because you can't get any (as there is no game)). DO NOT let the Codidactyl touch any sugar (not that there is a danger (because there is no game of course))
Hope no one missed the "game" part in this quote. So it is not only fun but also a kind of gamification.
Mithical says in their answer:
Fun, on the other hand, isn't the same thing as gamification. Fun is an optional thing that encourages community building. People can laugh together about a silly April Fools Easter Egg (which participation in is strictly voluntary; you're not required to use the Konami Code whenever you access the site).
But when strange posts such as "A note on April 1st" are found on Meta Codidact, new users, such as myself, feel alienated and find this site to be very weird and strange. Another user has also commented:
I would prefer to not have such uh "fun". This day is annoying enough elsewhere.
Some users from other parts of the world may not even be aware of Fool's day or Easter Eggs and it is not a globally recognized event as Mithical says below.
Other users may know only one meaning of easter egg i.e. the egg shared on Easter Sunday (a religious event). Trivialising a religious event of significant importance to the followers of that religion, might hurt the sentiments of the people who follow that religion. While the "Easter Eggs" found in some video games do just that, we should not be following the bad example of such video games.
We want to build a community.
Fun events - such as contests, or Easter Eggs - help increase a feeling of belonging and community for a lot of people. It keeps people engaged and people bond over events, or meet new people while comparing high scores. There's a reason we call our various sites "communities"; because that's what we're trying to facilitate. And sometimes, that means lightening things up a little (especially around gloablly-recognized fun events like April Fools).
While I agree about the community bonding part, I think it is also important that before doing such events we should ask ourselves: "Are we interested in creating a diverse and inclusive global community?"
If yes, this implies we should not be giving importance to any one culture over the multitude of cultures found in the world. There are so many festivals celebrated by so many cultures, can we celebrate them all? If the answer is no, would it be fair to treat one culture as more important and significant than another? I believe treating minorities with respect is very important for a diverse and inclusive global community.
- Monica Cellio says in their answer:
The Codidact team is still very small, and if there's something I can do to help them enjoy what they're doing without diminishing the platform, I'll do it.
Codidact is by the community, for the community -- please join us if you want to be a bigger part of that.
I don't understand Monica Cellio's point since I have already asked the question and by definition I am already a part of the community. If Monica Cellio is implying that I need to be a part of the development team to "be a bigger part of that", then I can't help but point out it seems there is already a significant conflict of interest between the development team and the user community. It is important that there is no separation nor conflict of interest between the development team and the user community. User community can contribute to development if they want to, likewise, the development team can participate on the Q&A if they want to.
Development teams should focus on building usable applications for the user community. Development teams should not focus on building something that they, and only they enjoy using, since people who use this Q&A platform might come from all backgrounds, including non-software development backgrounds.
Many developers hate using Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange since that community is toxic and lacks focus, quality and inclusivity. Creating a platform that has better quality (a high bar for getting a post accepted) and inclusivity than Stack Overflow, with zero tolerance for unkind and sarcastic remarks and off-topic posts solves the problems that developers currently face on Stack Overflow.
Monica Cellio says in a comment:
Similarly, the hidden game here doesn't affect Q&A, profiles, abilities, rep, badges (we don't have badges), or anything else. It's just an extra. Most of the time I neither like nor dislike eggs; they're just there
The hidden game has already affected my Meta Codidact rep somewhat negatively, since my posts related to the hidden game tend to get downvoted heavily. The staff user's post related to the hidden game and the posts of those who supported the staff user's action of creating a hidden game tend to get upvoted heavily, increasing their rep. Is this side effect good or bad? I will leave that to the reader to judge.
"gamification" is a bit of a different concept from "fun". Gamification refers to incentivizing participation; we do …
I want to supplement Mithical's answer, with which I agree. Broadly speaking, Codidact has three major pieces, all es …