On occasion, you may come across a user(s) in your community who look to be 'gaming' the system by completing activities only to gain points. This can take the form of

 

  • Liking everything in sight
  • Following a ton of people
  • Creating a secret (or so they think) group and creating/participating on their own or with others

 

Before removing the user(s) from the gamification system, here are some recommended steps:

 

  • Have a conversation with the person(s) involved and find out why they are doing what they are doing
    • It may be because there is no real use case to fulfil the user's needs so they are using the system in a casual way. Try to redirect that energy into productive activity
    • They may not understand what they are doing is wrong or even think that is what they should be doing ('you're supposed to collect points right?)'
    • They don't understand the impact it will have on their experience in the community. Following 500 people is going to seriously clutter your Following stream, rendering it almost useless in busy communities.
  • Look to see if there is a use case waiting to be developed.
    • Is this person representative of a dept/team/region that has not been developed yet? Could this be an opportunity to create some advocates and use case owners? Where is the opportunity in this situation?
  • Ask the person(s) to stop because people shouldn't be gaming, so monitor the person(s) involved to see if the situation has stopped/is continuing.
  • Take action - if all the above fails because, well people are people, and it's still happening then deactivate the user from accumulating any further points. It's not fair to your other members and distorts the value of achievements.
    • If you can remove the points gamed by the user(s) then do so and let them know why.
    • Bring them back in after a time. Don't blacklist a user forever after, everyone deserves a second chance.
    • Never name and shame or give some kind of badge to identify the user as a cheat. Like minus points, this is negative reinforcement and overkill to be honest, removing points and making a user inactive is punishment enough.

 

As mentioned earlier, take the time to see if there an opportunity to score a win when someone games your community. They are playing the game, almost the way you want them to.

 

If you have any advice, experiences to share on how you've dealt with users gaming your system or any feedback on this blog then please leave a comment below.

 

Thanks