Leadership Tactic #69: Positive Reinforcement and Jamey Points

I read a fascinating article the other day about a school in Chicago that charges students money when they start to accumulate demerits. Although I found the concept intriguing, it was this passage at the end about a different school district that really clicked with me:

At Knowledge is Power Program, a network of 109 charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, middle school students are rewarded for good behavior with a weekly incentive “paycheck” — fake money that can be redeemed at the school store or used to defray the cost of field trip.

According to the schools, both systems work. And it’s true–both negative and positive reinforcement can work. But given the choice between the two, I will always choose the latter.

One of several awkward photos of myself in high school that I could have submitted to the Tournament.

Thus when I read about a new web app and WordPress plugin called PunchTab the other day, I had to have it. If you’re reading this blog on the web (opposed to an e-mail or Google Reader), you probably see a ribbon in the bottom left of the page that says “Rewards” and a little tab that says “Badges.” You’ve probably even been prompted to sign up to receive points.

So yes, basically, the mythical “Jamey Points” are now a real thing.

What does this mean for you? If you don’t care about points or don’t have a Facebook account, it means nothing. You can continue reading (and hopefully commenting from time to time) as normal.

But for the rest of you, I think this might be really cool. You get points for doing what you already do on this blog–reading, commenting, Liking–and now there’s a way for me to reward you for coming back day after day. Most of those actions net you 100 points every time. Because when you reach certain milestones, I’m going to give you things. Here’s what I have so far:

1000 points: I’ll include a shout-out or mention of you or your blog on my blog.

2500 points: I’ll write a blog entry on a topic of your choice.

5000 points: You can write a guest entry on a topic of your choice.

??? points: Help me out here. I want some really cool things that aren’t all centered around the blog. I’d be happy to include reward levels like, “I’ll grab a root beer float with you,” but I don’t want to presume that you want to hang out with me. It also might be weird.

Don't Like my Facebook page for me. Like it for my cat.

Overall, I’m not looking to change your behavior–I don’t want you to read or comment or Like for the sake of getting points. I want you to do those things because you’re compelled to do so independent of points.

Also, I want to continue to find ways to make it easier for you to know when I write a new blog entry. Not everyone loves Google Reader as much as I do. PunchTab links to Facebook pages, so I created a Facebook page for jameystegmaier.com. You should Like my page. However, I do want to point out a few things, because the whole idea of having a page for myself is a little odd to me. You should know this:

  • I am not famous. Nor am I particularly clever or special. I’m just a dude who consistently writes a blog. I want to be very clear that I do not think that I’m some kind of a big deal Important Person who deserves to have a Facebook page all about me.
  • The blog itself is also not a Big Deal on the Internet. It continues to grow, but let’s put this in perspective: The blog has gotten 20,000 page views the last month (as of about 4:00 today). That’s a record for me and my little passion project. But hugely popular blogs get 20,000 page views a day. Some even way more. I’d love for the blog to continue to grow. But I also like the kind of conversation that a blog fosters when you don’t have to weed through 500 one-line comments. I like that you (I mean you, the reader) can actually stand out from the pack when you take the time to comment on the blog. As a result, the comments are often the best part of these blog entries. Let’s keep it that way.
  • I kind of wish I had originally named the blog something generic like Zabadee.com instead of My Name Dot Com. Mostly because it’s almost as if the blog can only be about Jamey Stegmaier, which is not my intention at all. I’ll see if I can figure out a solution for that.
  • Again, I really want to emphasize that I’m not famous. I’m not a big deal. You’re a big deal. (See how I keep the focus on you instead of me? That’s what introverts do.)

As you can see, I’m all about positive reinforcement. I think it’s way better than having a system that punishes readers for not reading the blog every day. That seems terrible!