In video games, levels are the natural extension of points. Once you receive so many points or have accomplished so many tasks, you are awarded with a new level. If we model this to real life, you could equate this to accumulating wealth, social standing or a position at a company. Games provide a way to achieve “levels” more quickly than in real life and in turn, create more satisfying game play.
Typically, achieving a new level affords you abilities not otherwise afforded to mere beginners. Web sites tend to use two different kinds of levels, explicit, quid pro quo levels or levels that are really jobs in some ways. The benefits of these levels varies from site to site, but generally, if you have achieved a higher level at the site, higher rank means more benefits.
Quid Pro Quo
I’ve mentioned Yahoo! Answers before, but Answers bears mentioning again given how transparent their system of levels is.
Do this, get that. It’s pretty simple.
Levels as reputation
eBay rewards members with positive feedback with “reputation” stars. Yellow stars are on the lower end of the feedback scale, while red tops out their feedback scale.
It may sound silly, but long time eBayers covet these stars and ultimately, having a green star (5k+ positive feedback) on eBay can really help sales.
eBay’s usage of icons extends beyond reputation for sure, but the association of icons with reputation levels is an incentive to get as many icons next to your seller info as possible. Filling out a profile page, reviewing products or adding your Skype contact info will get you a new icon.
Levels as a job
The best social media sites have users that feel so strongly about the site and use it so much, it is often what some would consider a part time job.
Wikipedia would be a massive failure if it did not employ levels of some kind. If everyone were equal on the site, newbies and old timers, Wikipedia would be rife with errors, vandalism and infighting.
While all Wikipedians, by definition, contribute to the site, there are numerous people who also have administrative roles.
1. Stewards can give and remove permissions to users.
2. Administrators can prevent articles from being edited for numerous reasons.
3. Bureaucrats assign who can be administrators and stewards.
One attains these levels by not only contributing heavily to Wikipedia, but also has a commitment to helping others contribute and keeping the site to a high level of standards.
At the simplest …. ahem… level, levels are a good way to compare how you are doing in comparison to others. Levels are a good way to reward heavy users and in turn, ensure your web site runs more smoothly.
What other sites out their use levels effectively? How are you using levels on your site?