Google News badges: Yawn, what’s next?

Google News badges: Yawn, what’s next?

Summary: This past week, Google jumped onto the gamification bandwagon, adding badges to its Google News service. It works something like this: If you go to Google News and start reading articles, you’ll be rewarded a badge (there are roughly 500 badges you can earn right now).

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TOPICS: Browser, Google
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This past week, Google jumped onto the gamification bandwagon, adding badges to its Google News service. It works something like this: If you go to Google News and start reading articles, you’ll be rewarded a badge (there are roughly 500 badges you can earn right now). As you keep reading about a particular topic, your badges will level up, going from bronze to silver, gold, platinum and ultimate. Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re a major Google fanboy/girl. Once you read an article about Google, you’ll get the Google badge. Then, the more Google related articles you read, the more your badge will level up along the way. Google says it’ll take roughly a week of reading certain types of articles to earn a badge and then start the ramp-up process.

Initially, the Google News badges will only be visible to you, but you can opt to make them public to your friends to, ya know, show them that you really have nose for news.

Of course, there’s a catch. You’re required to give up a little privacy in order to earn these badges. Your Google web history must be turned on (this is separate from your browser Web history) if you want to start collecting these achievements. Web privacy watchdogs often warn against having your web history enabled, and even though Google promises not to share your web browsing habits, remember that Google will readily hand it over if the legal system requires it to do so.

The addition of badges to Google News isn’t really that compelling, and, in its current state , violates one of my cardinal rules of gamification: Don’t just slap badges on something in an attempt to make it more compelling. A few badges are not motivation enough to make someone (like me) give up monitoring feeds in Google Reader or make the rounds to their favorite news sites.

Since this is still the “bronze release” of badges, according to Google News engineer Natasha Mohanty, it will be interesting to see if this is just an elaborate plan to get Google users to turn on their web histories. Badge integration into the new Google+ social network seems inevitable, but the real-world payout of earning badges still seems hazy.

Maybe Google will take a note from Foursquare and offer elite badge-holders some kind of real-world payment in exchange for their loyalty. If Google would, say, partner with the New York Times or Wall Street Journal and offer a free (or even highly discounted) subscription to its digital content, then these badges might seem infinitely more interesting.

What do you think Google News can do with these badges to make them more compelling? Sound off in the comments below.

Topics: Browser, Google

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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6 comments
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  • RE: Google News badges: Yawn, whatâ??s next?

    My initial thought was that this was an effort to get people to read the news more, because Google often supports people being informed of current events around the world. Perhaps this isn't their purpose, but I've already found myself using Google News more. I don't care about showing off badges to my friends, but I do like personal challenges. It's opt-in, so I don't have a problem with it privacy-wise, and I think it might get people a little more interested in reading a few news articles every once in a while.
    matt8441
  • RE: Google News badges: Yawn, whats next?

    Badges?

    We don't need no stinking badges!

    - Mickey Dolenz with apologies to B. Travens.
    tonymcs@...
  • RE: Google News badges: Yawn, whats next?

    I kind of like the idea Google is rolling out. I know some people won't care for it much and that's okay but some may find it fun. I plan on giving it a whirl.
    glenroberts
  • RE: Google News badges: Yawn, whats next?

    I would think that journalists would applaud the badges. It encourages readers to actually click on the link and read the article as opposed to simply skimming the titles.
    GOATVL
  • Different Point of View

    I think that the addition of badges to Google News is not simply meant to alter users behavior or violate their privacy. Most likely, the badges were added to encourage users to read more articles on topics they already care about. Although here at Badgeville, we would agree that you should never "slap badges on something to make it more compelling," if integrated properly, badges, points, and leaderboards can successfully be used to deeply engage users with your content. Please follow this link to read a thorough review on our Blog about Google News' Badges: http://blog.badgeville.com/index.php/google-news-adds-badges-gamification-hit-or-miss
    Badgeville
  • Badges - the next wave

    "Social" is a mess - like "search" was in the 90's. Google changed that by actually making "search" work. <br><br>Social is a mess. Badges will basically rank commenters "knowledge" on subject matter (they must be tracking the composition of topics within each badge). Higher ranks will rise on comments of given topic (not just category), lower ranks fall.<br><br>This is the next wave - editorializing "Social." Google wants to move in this direction because they need to play their strengths - algorithms.<br><br>watch this trend.
    david433taken!