Badges badges badges…

For centuries, mankind has pondered the question of badges and whether we need them. Some have said: No, we do not need them, and furthermore, they smell. But these people have usually been angry and moustachio’d. Others have said: Actually, we quite like them – could we have some more please? Badges are useful for communicating simple messages, usually about the wearer; such as “I rather enjoy cake”, “I have 117 cats” and “I believe you to be angry and moustachio’d”.

Here at Ning Incorporated we’ve decided that we like badges a lot, except for one problem with the current model: they don’t change. If you get a new cat, the number has gone up to 118 and your proudly-worn badge is now obsolete. So we’ve come up with a new kind of badge. A better kind of badge. If you look on the left of this text, you’ll see an example of what we call a LiveBadge. It proudly displays the number of books I have added to Bookshelf. If you click on it, it will take your browser to the page that lists those books. Even better, the number displayed by the badge will always be correct, even if I add a new book after posting this blog entry. Is it magic, or yet another devious creation of Matt “Interconnected” Webb and Jon “Wunderkind” Aquino? (Hint: The latter.)

And it goes further than just Bookshelf – Jon’s added LiveBadges to Restaurant Reviews, Restaurant Reviews with Maps, Restaurant Reviews with Yahoo Maps, Rate My Teachers, Bookmarks, Photo Sharing, Bulldogster, Anytown Listings, Anytown Marketplace, Anytown Marketplace with Maps, Find-A-Developer, Wishlist (just in time for Christmas!), Discussion Board and Bay Area Hiking Trails.

To obtain a LiveBadge for yourself from any of these apps, simply go to your Profile page on that app – the one that displays everything you’ve added. (For example, in Bookmarks, it’s called “My Bookmarks”.) You’ll find your LiveBadge at the bottom of the page, with a link to the HTML code required to add the badge to any web page – it doesn’t have to be on Ning.

I know what you’ll ask next: “That’s all very well, but how do I add LiveBadges to my own apps?” Good question. We’re thinking of creating an easy way to do this for everyone. However, it’s just possible that one of you clever Ning hackers out there may have a look at the existing code and beat us to it – and there’ll be shining glory for you if you do…

About the Author:

alexei – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.