A badge too far?
I was discussing with Philipp Schmidt how best to pair my OpenFiction Project with Peer 2 Peer University’s challenges model, as a see a lot of potential in the model, especially in the possibility of scaling up humanities instruction. The trick in making it work, as I see it, is how to efficiently distribute the subject matter expertise resident in the community, and how to incentivise the participation of subject matter experts.
I plan to offer badges because, well, all the cool kids are doing it, but one of the insufficiencies of badges in my mind is that they are generally all about me and what I’ve done. Sure you can offer badges for being a team player, giving good feedback, etc., but they are still all about me. As Philipp and I were talking this over, I threw out the notion of creating an OpenFiction Project guild, membership in which was earned and maintained through ongoing community participation and writing.
Guild membership would require an ongoing commitment to produce and share writing, to give feedback of sufficient volume and quality on submissions of OpenFiction tasks from other community members, and to give feedback on stories or participate in one or more online writing groups that regularly share feedback with each other. It’s not a badge you earn once, but a status you earn through consistent and ongoing participation and one that can lapse. It might also be a status that is in some way determined by other guild members, through ratings of feedback, etc. There’s the potential for additional benefits as your guild status changes, such as the opportunity to advertise paid services within the community when you reach a certain level, the opportunity to submit work to a community journal, or to participate in the editing of the core materials for the OpenFiction project.
The good thing about this model in my mind is that it encompasses both a commitment to a community and to a craft, and to developing both. It explicitly includes the notion of training those less skilled than you and learning from those with more experience. And that it’s a status that needs to be maintained both through practice of the craft and service to the community. The downside is of course that such communities tend to protect their own entrenched interests. My hope is that this can be avoided through careful structuring of the community. I obviously haven’t fully worked out how this might be expressed in an online community of learners, but as we push forward, I’ll come back and post more. I’ve seen similar models, mostly on bulletin board communities, but if you know any really good ones, let me know.