Sootie of course badges and points don't mean anything...to those who have a sense of security about their quits or their commitment - or THEMSELVES for that matter. To those who understand that .... oh - don't get me started - never mind I have started. lol
The POWERS THAT BE believe that Badges and Points "gamification" as they call it - are incentives to those who have the psychological NEED for that, to ENCOURAGE them in their quit progress, to help motivate people not only to quit, but to become and remain active within the EX Community. It's based on statistical findings that have no true relevance to this support community (in my humble opinion). I think what makes people remain active here (or at least keep them lurking) is that we disseminate heartfelt, passionate truths about this addiction from the point of view and actual experience of those who have "been there, done that."
Although, like you I'm able to see both sides. And I understand that some people, I guess, really need that kind of psychological award/reward system to motivate them and spur them on to the next day's quit. The trouble is - none of us with long-term quits find that tactic useful. We find it silly. What's USEFUL is the support, knowledge and wisdom of this community. What's USEFUL is the Daily Pledge, Freedom Train Ride mentions. The Elder List accomplishment. Because it's a PEER BASED accolade. The motivation to quit comes from peer support, acknowledgement, pressure... whatever. (Just like the motivation to put a cigarette in our mouths for the first time did.) Points and Badges are for children. And that may work wonderfully well for them. But I think we've shown after all the years on this site of talking and railing against such trivial accolades - that the badge that truly motivates is that Badge of Honor we acquire for ourselves by remaining steadfast to our commitment to our quits. And the points that count are really the amount of smoke-free days we’ve earned.
If you're spending most of your time studying the leaderboard and your stats on it, then you're paying less attention to the material you should be on this site.