Gamification is often used to incentivize people into performing small, repetitive tasks. For example, as a Stack Overflow user, I receive 2 reputation points for an accepted edit. I can earn badges by reviewing series of potentially problematic questions, etc. This seems to work fairly well since the user is given a reward for a easily achievable objective.

In contrast to this, what elements are required to incentivize users into performing creative tasks? Unlike with small 'assignments', a creative task bears the risk of not being solved satisfactory, therefore the user risks investing an effort without being rewarded.

Simply offering a higher reward introduces its own set of problems like having to deal with cheating, therefore my question:

How can I incentivize users to perform creative tasks (e.g., creating a new recipe)?


3 Answers 3


I think the methods you describe (i.e. those employed by Stack Exchange) work for creative tasks as well.

Asking good questions, and providing helpful answers can be considered creative. It's entirely possible that a user can put a lot of effort into an answer only for it to not solve the problem at all.

Whilst it can be disheartening when content isn't as good as you imagined, the feedback given (through upvotes and comments) allows you to improve upon what you've already produced, with the hope that it can be salvaged into something useful. This is essentially the benefit of gamification for sites like SE, by rewarding good content it encourages users themselves to improve and expand their knowledge - it's a learning experience.

So if a user is put off from submitting a recipe because they fear the community will react negatively to it, then maybe it was never very good to begin with.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree that Feedback is a crucial aspect. To get a concrete method, I'll interpret your answer as follows: not only reward the creative task itself, but also giving feedback (as it's the case for StackExchange's edits). Would you agree? $\endgroup$
    – blubb
    Oct 25, 2013 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Yes that's a fair point and would be an effective way to ensure (as on SE) that content is improved upon. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Oct 25, 2013 at 15:59

This is actually a perfect fit for the best kind of gamification that illuminates the progress you're already making (but weren't aware of)

1. Break the creative task into steps in a creative process

2. Measure that progress for the user.
You don't even need to reward progress, just how them how it gets them closer to the goal. Success may not be guaranteed, but if you can show them that the Process is the best way to get there and that it often succeeds you can get buy in on that. (You can also reward them for that progress but it should be intrinsic not extrinsic


Let's use creating an Advertising campaign (I've been watching a lot of The Pitch lately )

  1. Interview customers to find out what they like about the brand.
  2. Interview the brand owner to find out why they they think the customers like them.
  3. Restate that in a dozen different ways, iterating though different ways of viewing that and focusing on benefit to the user
    I've done that with my own products. I'll work with a marketing guy and he'll ask "what makes your product unique" and I'll give a feature and he'll ask "no, what does that do for the USER", etc.
  4. Synthesize the benefits in #3 down to their essense.
  5. Come up with lots of way to express #4.
    This is pobably where most people think advertising starts. The benefit of our new product is that it's a comprehensive app in a world filled with apps that each to a tiny piece of what our target users need. So our ideas were : The Last App you'll ever need. That seemed a little too much so we went with "The One App That Does It All". (We had lots of other ideas but narrowed it to this.)

Measure their progress in each of these. Compare a successful outcome's process to an unsuccessful one.


Using your analogy of creating a recipe:

On a site where recipes are shared, users should earn points for the times when their recipe is upvoted, but they should not lose any reputation/points/levels, if it is down-voted. This can discourage creativity and experimentation.

I think that not having bad things happen when there recipes (or otherwise) go wrong or at not generally well-liked, should be a key element in the design of a gamification system for a site like that.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree, taking away the down vote is import otherwise people will be less willing to experiment and submit creative suggestions $\endgroup$
    – Liath
    Oct 25, 2013 at 9:58

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