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>> it would encourage people to create accounts on my system for the sole purpose of gaining these badges.

I doubt anyone would make a (non-spam) system that rewards people just for signing up. The site creator would be careful to reward only meaningful actions. So this isn't realistic.

>> It further encourages behavior designed to obtain badges.

That's the whole point of the badge itself though - encourage a particular type of behavior. I don't see this as a problem either.

>> bill it as a more generic hub for sharing information about what users get done in a given application

Very interesting take on the idea.

The problem is that it's very difficult to make badges actually encourage the type of behavior you want, unless that type of behavior is "spend a lot of time doing something meaningless".

For example, HN could have a "1000 Karma" badge, which would be meant to encourage thoughtful, intelligent submissions and posts. People could instead say majority-pleasing things. Even worse, people could collaborate to vote each other's posts up. Get 32 such people together, have each make 32 posts in a topic that left the "New" page without getting any votes, and presto! 1024 Karma for All!

There are many variations on these themes. Badges (in social/multi-user settings) largely fail at getting people to do what you want, unless what you want is for people to waste time getting badges.

Now, in a closed system, this can be minimized: people who would normally read and post on HN are less likely to resort to these shenanagins, and others just wouldn't care. The aggregator gives them a reason to care.

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