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Is it possible to add new badges or introduce points for sharing links to questions? I think it would be good to encourage more social media sharing of the site - it would help to improve the profile of the BiologySE site, help garner new users, and increase the frequency of questions and (multiple good quality) answers. One way to encourage more social media usage would be to offer points and/or badges. As it stands there are no points available, and there is only three badges (depending on the number of unique IP addresses that read the post [25, 300, 1000]).

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  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't this be an issue for StackExchange in general? From what I've seen the badges are the same across sites. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jan 9 '14 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ is there a way to bring it up with SE in general? I think it is perhaps a larger issue for the smaller/beta sites which suffer because of low visitation rates etc. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 9 '14 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ Ask it at meta.stackoverflow.com, which is used as Meta for all of StackExchange. As you say, its probably most relevant for newer sites, but there are many of those. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jan 9 '14 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater you can propose network-wide changes here as well, you don't have to do that on MSO. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jan 10 '14 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Ok, good to know. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jan 10 '14 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist so how do we get the attention of the necessary people to suggest network wide changes from within our own meta? $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 10 '14 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @GriffinEvo SE does monitor the per-site metas, and we moderators can point the SE community team to specific issues on our meta. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Jan 10 '14 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist I see, thanks for the info $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 10 '14 at 13:56
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Increasing the rewards for specific behaviour also encourages gaming the system to get those rewards, one example are the review badges which were in part responsible for a whole army of robo-reviewers. So we need to take possible negative effects into account.

What could happen if the rewards for sharing were too large is that users start spamming high traffic sites like Reddit to get those rewards. This is fine in moderation, but we don't want to get a reputation for spamming and maybe even be blocked from some sites due to that.

I can guarantee you that giving out reputationn for sharing links won't happen. It doesn't fit with the existing SE philosophy, it would reward users for something that happens outside of the site, and it would likely be too tempting for some users to abuse.

Badges would not be out of the question, but I don't see any good criteria for new badges. The sharing badges already exist, and they span all three types (bronze/silver/gold). Of course one could add badges for sharing x links in total, but that would be rather boring and also not much incentive over the existing badges.

Some more creative badges could be to award them for bringing in a user that becomes a very active member on the site. So e.g. if a user registers after they visited the site via such a shared link, the sharing user would get a badge once the new user reaches x rep. Though I suspect that practical and technical issues would make this kind of badge very unlikely to be ever implemented.

I don't think we should add any substantially higher rewards for sharing links, I'd be too worried about possible negative impacts of such a change.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're right, we don't want to encourage spamming or playing for points etc. (although the distinction between "gaming" for badges/points and doing good things for the site could be quite unnecessary if, at the end of the day, the net effect is an improved site) so perhaps some "one-off" rewards would be good to stop anyone overdoing it but make them aware of the activities that would improve the site - I really like the idea of a reward for bringing in new users! $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 10 '14 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ perhaps a "suggest biology SE to a friend" button which is rewarded if someone registers as a result and goes on to make X points within 6 months... "Pyramid scheme" badge if they then get three people to sign up ;) $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 10 '14 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ though a suggest a friend link could be quite susceptible to being spammed $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jan 10 '14 at 14:23

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