Supporting different developer "personalities" in Badgie

Not all developers are equal. People differ in many ways: gender, skin color, to name the most obvious, but also merely in personality traits. Some people are more competitive, and a challenge motivates them. Others seek self-improvement and want to challenge themselves. Even others are at their best when they are interacting socially.

One of the things that always left me perplexed about Stack Overflow is the "developers do not socialize" commandment. If you look at the Stack Overflow site, there's very little space left to socialization. You cannot certainly add "friends" to your profile, nor you should even say "Hello" or "Thank you" in your questions or answers. A little bit is tolerated in comments. A bit more is tolerated in chats, but most users do not even know they exist, let alone use it.

A quintessential example is this answer:

Is Stack Overflow a social networking site? No, it is not. It's a Q&A site.

  • We can't connect to friends.
  • We don't have a means for private messages.
  • We don't share pictures of our dog, kids, or house.

While I agree that sharing your kids' pictures is out-of-place on a professional site, I frankly disagree with the assumptions in the first two bullet points: in 2019 many developers are social, they are not shut-in or socially awkward people. Sure — there are some stereotypical nerds, but most people are pretty much ordinary people who do a profession.

Knowing this, we decided to add features to Badgie for different kinds of people.

  • We are building "world" ledgers that appeal to people who like to compete.
  • There is going to be a guidance system to help people find new ways to improve their career and earn badges at the same time.
  • Finally, we'll add the possibility of friending other people so to follow each other's progress and support each other.

Building a world-class system is difficult because we need to understand human nature. If we want to cater for humans all over the planet, we need to account for the incredible number of different points of view that in turn determine what those humans look for and what their expectations are when joining our site.

Furthermore, it is a primary concern to understand why would people want to come back. Understanding what motivates people is incredibly important in this context and doubly so for a site like Badgie that intends to encourage people as its mission.

All these reasons are why we are looking into different features and trying to go beyond the incredible work done at Stack Overflow. Jeff Atwood designed Stack Overflow around a specific idea of a developer, and he was incredibly accurate in catering to that idea. This design worked amazingly well, Stack Overflow is a world top 50 site, but we don't believe it caters to all kinds of developers -- and not even to all the "best" developers.

I in Team

We believe that we can make the developer world a little bit better and in our case, this aim also means having something significant for each of our possible users and building a site where as many as possible can find a home.

We are still 6–8 weeks away from MVP release, and we are looking for alpha testers. I can't promise we'll give you access straight away, I can guarantee we'll provide you with some play time before we make a public release. Sign up below if you are interested.

Furthermore, I finally caved in and added comments to this page (yay! socialize!). What do you think, is adding some social features to Badgie a terrible idea?

Hi, I'm Marco Cecconi. I am the founder of Intelligent Hack, developer, hacker, blogger, conference lecturer. Bio: ex Stack Overflow core team, ex Toptal EM.

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