HuffPost Badges: Encouraging User Interactivity While Further Cutesyfying The Internet

Continuing their mission to make the Huffington Post more social network-friendly, the site has introduced “HuffPo Badges” to encourage interaction among readers.

HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington explains why she wants you to go out and brand yourself:

The Huffington Post has always had a very passionate community, so it’s natural for us to continue to deepen the ways in which our users can engage with HuffPost — and with each other. HuffPost Badges is a fun new way to empower our users — and for them to brand themselves as active HuffPost members. Having members of the HuffPost community adding friends and fans, posting comments and shares, and flagging inappropriate comments, has helped make us a more dynamic and interesting site, while keeping the conversation more civil. HuffPost Badges highlights and rewards the people who power our growing community.

Yay for essentially meaningless rewards! But. Thoughtful pause. What are these things exactly?

Basically, they function like a cross between Gawker’s tiered, “starred commenter” system and Foursquare badges. HuffPost badges are awarded based on user activity and interactivity, so, for example, those who regularly comment on the site or share stories across social networks like Twitter can receive a “Superuser” badge. Readers who go through flagging inappropriate comments to feel some modicum of power as they sit in their sad little cubicles all day can earn “Moderator” badges.

In other words: HuffPo badges are Pokemon for adults. Or maybe it’s more like Dungeons and Dragons, if this, from the Badges’ Q & A section, is anything to go by:

Q: I don’t understand why linking a Facebook account or a Twitter account to my HuffPost account has anything to do with Badges? Why is it a requirement?
A: Connecting your Facebook account or your Twitter account is required to advance to a Level 2 Networker and Level 2 Superuser.

Level 2 Networkers have the power to launch Close Talker power beads with 3+ Halitosis points to any Level 1 Networker or Level 2 Superusers who do not also Tweet about their lunches. Except on the third Sunday of each month.

All that aside, the badges will likely, given the Huffington Post’s reader base, prove to be a successful, ingenious way of upping visits and views to the site as commenters and readers return to see the fruits of their Networking, Superusing, and/or Moderating efforts.

Also, this is very cute:

Q: Where did you come up with the design for your Badges?
A: We designed them in house. Do you like them?