What Would You Do for an eBay Star?

I have a confession to make:

I am addicted to eBay User ID badges.  You know, the little icons that appear next to your User ID on eBay.

It all starts with that innocuous feedback star.  You get that yellow star at 10.  It’s great, and now all of a sudden you can use Buy It Now!  But it’s really just temptation.  Temptation to get 40 more feedback to get the blue star.  Fifty more to get the turquoise star at 100.

One of my big moments in 2006 was definitely crossing the chasm of the next 400 to get my purple star, at 500.  Will I stop?  How can I when the red star is just an quick shot over to 1000…

But it’s not just feedback.  The train of icons began with my eBay Store, giving me a little Stores logo next to my name.   Then I dicovered eBay Reviews & Guides.  With a 100 helpfulness votes, I got the pencil.  I’m now a “Top 5000” reviewer, which also follows my name.

And now, today, after three months of heavy selling, I have earned, perhaps temporarily, the ultimate logo – PowerSeller.

There is a lesson in all this madness for people creating products & services based on community driven activity & content.  Badges sell.  People love to acquire them, to have a little scorecard, to reach the next level of recognition.  Tiering works in all sorts of consumer products, and eBay has it in spades.

I have seen lot of new sites and services that keep score, a record of achievement.  But I think scores are somehow too clinical, too cold.   A number.  A score.  It just doesn’t resonate as strongly as a badge.

Well, I’m still working my way to that red star… only 400 more unique positives to go until I hit 1000.