I’m very excited about two new features that we are launching today on YLF. Member roles, which will be a fun way to recognize participation on the site, and member levels, which will help us to tailor the YLF experience to the level of participation of individual members. That probably doesn’t tell you a whole lot, so here are the details from Greg.

This is quite a long post by YLF standards, and strictly speaking, it isn’t essential reading. The new system we have set up for member roles and levels is quite simple and you could easily pick it up over time. On the other hand, if you’d like to immediately get the lowdown on how to earn roles and how your level will evolve as you participate on YLF, then read on…

Member Roles

We deal with some serious issues on YLF. With confidence so inextricably linked to personal style, the discussions that happen here make a significant difference in people’s lives. It is humbling, to say the least, that YLF can facilitate this process.

But it isn’t all deep and serious. It’s also an enormous amount of fun. Some people relax by chatting about sports, or Lost, or Xbox, or the iPad. If you are reading this post, you probably get that same kick out of chatting about fashion and style. It can also be an outlet for creativity, and even a game (the forum challenges are a fantastic example of this).

In that spirit of fun and engagement we are adding member roles to YLF. As you participate on the site, you will earn roles that reflect the things we do here. For example, someone who makes a lot of comments on the blog will earn the “Pundit” role, and someone who writes a lot of reviews in the store will become a “Critic”. Roles are calculated for the last 30 days, so they will go away over time.

Member Roles

The Pundit and Critic roles that I used as examples above are awarded automatically by the system, but there is also a way for fellow members to recognize each other. Anyone who starts a conversation in the forum can award what we call appreciation points for comedy, therapy, wisdom, a confidence boost, or a good solution. These points add up to roles. For example, someone will earn the “Comedian” role if many of their posts are recognized as comedy.

Awarding Appreciation Points

The roles that you receive are displayed on your profile page and alongside your profile picture in blog comments, forum posts and store reviews. On your own profile page you will also see a breakdown of the points you received to earn your roles, but other people won’t see this level of detail.

Member Levels

While roles fluctuate along with your participation on YLF, member levels are based on the sum of all your experience on the site.

We have two main goals with the levels. First, we want to protect members who are active on the forum from new people who sign up with less than pure intentions. The best example here is spam — right now the private messaging system is fairly free of spam and we’d like to keep it that way. Second, we need a way to involve veteran members more deeply in the management and evolution of the site. This will include participation in beta programs for new features and discussions about the future plans for the site (all voluntary of course).

So we have implemented the following simple, 3 tier system:

  1. Member: This is the starting level for everyone who signs up to YLF. As a member you can comment on the blog, start conversations and reply to conversations in the forum, post reviews in the store and set up your profile page.
  2. Active Member: People who participate in the forum will very rapidly get to the active member level. To do so you need to be a member for at least 10 days, start at least 2 conversations and reply to at least 5 conversations in the forum. As an active member you can send private messages, access the member directory, and award appreciation points in the forum in addition to all the things a normal member can do.
  3. Veteran: After an extended period of participation in the community people will reach the veteran member level. Veterans have been a member for at least one year and have accumulated at least 2 permanent roles through their participation.

One thing we would like to emphasize is that in this system, everyone is a member. Some people join YLF only to comment on the blog or review items in the store. Since they are not starting or joining conversations on the forum, they will never reach active member status. This is totally fine. But in order to make a more intimate connection with other members of the community, like sending a private message or browsing through the people in the member directory, they would need to participate more actively in the forum.

You can see your level and the levels of others in the profile page and underneath your profile picture alongside blog comments and forum posts. In the example below, Jasmine earned four roles over the last 30 days and is at the veteran member level. She also has three permanent badges, but these are only displayed on her profile page.

Roles and Level Display

The best way to get the hang of roles and levels is to see them in action. Go to your profile page and see your level and the roles you have collected already (past activity counts, so many people already have quite a few). Then go to the forum and see how this information looks alongside your profile picture on the left hand side of your posts. Finally, go to one of your conversations and try awarding points to other members by clicking the “Comedy”, “Therapy”, “Wisdom”, “Boost” and “Solution” tabs at the bottom of their post. Feel free to experiment because you can click the tab a second time to undo.

For more detailed information on roles and levels, take a look at these help pages:

After you’ve given it a whirl, please let us know what you think in the comments below. A system like this should reflect the values of the community it serves, so your opinion is very important. One specific thing that we could use help with is the name of the “Active Member” level. We’re not entirely happy with this, but couldn’t think of with anything better. Ideally it would be a single word, and convey that these members are more active in the community than normal members. Any suggestions?

Finally, there are bound to be some teething problems so please let us know if you see anything strange.