A few days ago, I won an award.
What did I get? This blog drew its 100th “Like”.
“Yes,” I hear you ask. “But what was the award?”
That is the award. Well, to be pedantic, the award is a notification from WordPress informing me that “You’ve gotten 100 likes”.
According to WordPress, they award “badges” for significant milestones in followers and likes, because “it’s important to stop, catch your breath, and look at your accomplishments”. They also send notifications when I beat a previous daily record for likes (29 March) and follows (5 April).
OK, that makes sense. Sort of. It’s nice to get a pat on the back for doing something, but I didn’t really do this – it’s you folks reading the blog who grant the likes and become the followers. By that logic, you should be getting the badges, or at least being notified of them. But these badges are only visible to the blogger. I can tell you about them, but that’s it. (Yes, I know I could take a screenshot and post it, but that’s kind of half-assed.)
And yes, I know that if I wasn’t blogging, there wouldn’t be anything for y’all to like and follow. The point here is that I’m being rewarded for your actions. If it was about my accomplishments, the badges should be for significant numbers of posts, or new records in number of posts in a day.
So what is the point of these badges, especially given that the information is available in the site stats? Cynically, I suspect it’s to keep new bloggers around long enough for WordPress to break even on them. The award levels are heavily biased to beginners (5, 10, 20, and 50), and then get very scarce (100, 500, and 1000). Pat the new kids on the head, keep them engaged long enough to seed ads on their pages (or up-sell them to the “no ads” package), and make enough money to cover the cost of their bandwidth and support needs. If they give up after the 50 award, WordPress is good; if they keep going, they’ve got the habit and don’t need further encouragement.
Oh, wait. According to a staff comment on the page linked above, “there’s a little secret if you get over a thousand”. Stick around and push that “Like” count up, won’t you? I want to see if the secret is that I get a pony!