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Commons relies on constant volunteer labour to run smoothly and provide reliable, useful resources for its users, Wikimedia projects and otherwise. 'Volunteer' need not imply a lack of recognition.

Many users are rightfully wary of editcountitis, because quantity doesn't imply quality. Nonetheless many useful activities are measurable in a fairly standard way. Offering awards in recognition of significant effort has several benefits:

  • Formally and publicly recognises those individuals who devote significant effort or make significant contributions to the Commons, thus thanking them and encouraging them to continue
  • Allows those individuals to explain their contributions to others in a quantitative way (for example, in running for various positions of power within Wikimedia)
  • Offers concrete examples of how other users can contribute to the community in useful ways

from feb 07:

* Introduce user recognition system.
We are all volunteers, but there's no reason we can't develop an award
system that aims to recognise the time-intensive effort and/or
outstandingly high-quality contributions that longterm users have
made. The benefits of such a system are two-fold: they give the
contributors in question tangible, public and formal recognition of
their efforts, which thanks and encourages them; and it offers
concrete examples to other users of what kind of conduct is
appreciated and needed.

april 07:

 introduce a new thing called
'Achievement awards' or 'recognition of significant contributions' or
whatever you like. There can be many in different key areas too,
possibly of different levels.
Similar to barnstars, but
* Users earn them by meeting *measurable* standards (so they are not
exactly voted)
* They recognise contributions without any connotation of community trust
* There is an official list of awarded users, and users may not
display the award without first having been recognised as receiving
These can be for all kinds of things from content creation (# articles
started, # edits over certain size, # images uploaded) to community
management (# edits to a help page - helping users, not asking
questions ;)) to maintenance (# pages deleted per deletion
discussions). They can also be graded - the numbers can be 100, 500
and 1000, or whatever is appropriate. There can also be special
one-off awards for people who write special bots or useful tools, for
example, or who play a special role in the community (like important
foundational users who lead the way).

What's important about these is that they're official bragging rights
without endorsing the user's general behaviour (usually). Simply,
there are users who do great work in content creation or organisation,
but who just don't necessarily interact well with other users. How can
we recognise the contributions of these users? Currently there is no
real way. I see many RfAs that look like this: this person does a
great job contributing content. How can we reward them? By making them
an admin. Sometimes these succeed (for some commentators they will
seem particularly "irrelevant") and sometimes they don't and that is a
very sad thing, because there's been an effort to try and reward a
user for their work and instead they get rejected. Those types of RfAs
leave a lot of bad feeling around and it's my opinion that it's
because we don't have different ways of formally recognising different
 types of contribution.

Wikis need two things: to build content and to build a community. I
often read now on English Wikipedia the mantra "we're here to write an
encyclopedia" as if nothing else can be relevant. But huge amounts of
time and effort are already spent on these "meta" activities of
organising community. They reinforce each other. You could not enforce
a Manual of Style if there was no community. You couldn't agree that
blanking articles was wrong and to have an article deleted a certain
process should be followed, if there wasn't a community. So they are
two sides of the same coin.

Any volunteer organisation needs ways to recognise and thank its
volunteers. Currently it's quite sad, if all we have is barnstars and
they are ad-hoc and "unofficial", meh. So that's what I consider the
'achievement awards' to be about.