Leaderboards & Leveling Up


Fractally, Cosmos strives to always start with a conversation. (This signifies the “two-way” flow of information and energy required of reciprocal relationships.) This is described in the new member intake process document, as well as in our onboarding standard procedures & communications (in development; located elsewhere).

Whether it is the system’s MindfulAI, or the user’s new dashboard interface (or an earlier field on their member application), or an individual staff member, or a cohort of fellow members initiating and holding the conversation: new members are greeted and, at a bare minimum, asked: What would you like to have happen (through Cosmos)? This is a marvelous question borrowed from Clean Language. (Some variation may also be used like “What would you like to achieve through your use of the platform?” Or just “What would you like to achieve?” Etc.)

Following this grounding (root) question, there are a set of basic questions that gather information necessary for Cosmos (again, whether this occurs via social group, staff interaction, or its tailored AI systems) to learn the user and discern what best opportunities to filter to the user. The answers a user gives to Cosmos’ prompts become the guarding “rails” that gently hone the shape of what media and information Cosmos will subsequently feed to the user on their user dashboard. What gets emphasized by the platform to a given user should be tied to their stated objectives for using the platform in the first place.

Thus, you can imagine that Cosmos and the user are in dialogue. A user expresses their needs or aspirations, and the system responds by providing recommendations (to the best of its capacity/through its networked intelligence). The user has the ultimate power to choose how much to “lean” on their interactions with the platform to identify suitable options for meeting his/her/their needs, versus simply undertaking autonomous, free-form exploration of what’s out there. Users get to tweak the “terms” of that dialogue through the “dials” (see Customization, currently in Generative) feedback loops).

This dialogue between user and Cosmos’ platform/community on the basis of what they desire to accomplish is relevant to the challenge of tracking and celebrating progress on individual, group, and Cosmos-wide leaderboards.


You can check out some leaderboard design templates here: http://ui-patterns.com/patterns/leaderboard

According to Karl Klapp in the Lynda.com course, Gamification for Interactive Learning, a leaderboard is a goal-setting device or technique. Leaderboards are boards where the status of individual players or project progress is ranked. Because everyone’s scores are displayed, it creates a competitive environment where everyone is inspired to try to attain top of the leaderboard. In Cosmos, it’d be unlikely that individuals or teams would be visually pitted against one another in this way—unless as part of an optional Playbook-based sub-game that users may opt into, such as a specific competition around rapidly skilling up, or around solving a complex problem to win a prize. Rather, leaderboards in Cosmos are all about having clarity and motivation to follow through on one’s goal striving efforts.

Leaderboards in Cosmos—whether at the individual level or at the Cosmos-wide level—function to show how far one has progressed towards one’s goals. The emphasis is on striving towards goals ** —NOT against one another.** We know that, under pressure, performance tends to sink if people know they are being compared to each other—but when they are compared to their own past progress on a given task, they tend to feel much more motivated and perform much better (according to Dr. Britt Andreatta in a lecture on Lynda.com, The Neuroscience of Learning ). Personal leaderboards would show one’s scores over time: e.g., scores from last week on goal items, compared to scores from this week, etc. This puts the focus on working to improve over time, which can be highly motivational!

For example, if one’s goal cash income level is $2,000/month and one is currently reportedly making $800/month, that’s 40% of one’s goal. The system, via one’s personal leaderboard in one’s dashboard, would not only show you this, but offer you prompts, resources, and encouragements to try to fill up that gap. For example, the system might suggest a badge you could earn, in line with your existing interests or skills, that would entitle you to a well-paying and scarce job opportunity within the Cosmos system. In terms of making progress on that goal, it might be demotivating to see that number sit at 40%, even if one is working on the issue. So, perhaps one creates a sub-goal, such as “explore at least 2 employment opportunities this week.” If one checks those boxes, the leaderboard will reflect that those goals were met for the week, and celebrate that win.

Leaderboards don’t just provide motivation and clarity around hitting financial goals, though. There are many different dimensions by which users can define their desires for self-actualization—involving multiple types of capital and personal goals in various dimensions (e.g. personal, professional, creative, social, etc.). Leaderboards may be simple or quite complex based on the individual member.

At the collective level, Cosmos’ leaderboard may be quite complex, or have goals set for each of its known domains. That leaderboard allows any member to see how Cosmos is doing on its self-defined goals for “next level” maturation of the platform. Goals can be met in a nonlinear way, of course—Cosmos may be over its goal in one area, but only at 5% of another goal. Still, Cosmos (through community informing processes) would have defined a collective “next level/level up” for itself and would (collectively and transparently) strive for that. At each “level up” event, related to the work accomplished, new benefits and perks would be released throughout the system. Thus do members reap the rewards of investing that hard work of “leveling up” together. (More on Leveling Up, below).

According to Karl Klapp, one should develop a leaderboard strategy to motivate as many learners as possible, & avoid accidentally de-motivating someone. This might mean having leaderboards that are private or context-specific, and therefore only visible by the relevant individuals or sub-group; it might mean having learning communities or “tracks” within learning communities, with their own leaderboards (e.g. “production cohort - podcast/audio fleet - producers & coaches.”).


Points. Cosmos’ two currencies—Litcoin (on the basis of liquid currency exchange value) and Cointribute (on the basis of patronage, calculated using complex and not-strictly-economic “participation” factors) can play similar functions to “points” in other games. These are liquid measures of what we value in Cosmos, and so attributing such coins can be viewed as a means of validation (like points in conventional games).

Leveling up & personal, group and collective leaderboards will often factor in Litcoin as a measurement (and enable weighted decision-making through Cointribute, such as on the collective definition of the “next level” in Cosmos’ leaderboard), but again, as each goal toward self-actualization is highly subjective, custom measurements (potentially involving multiple types of capital) may be called for.

LEVELING UP (means merging progression and performance games?)

Leveling up = striving toward goals (self-actualization) + goal attainment, due to masterfully navigating challenges and obstacles that pop up along the way.

The attainment of any individual, group, or even Cosmos-as-a-whole’s goals is a cooperative game —with users and the Cosmos-system working collaboratively and bringing their “best selves” to the challenge.

Individual leveling up. Essentially, leveling up involves a user successfully attaining their intentions, aspirations, or goals, articulated in their Dashboard (denoting individual progress in that core self-actualization game of Cosmos). This may mean reaching desired levels of capital access (e.g. making $XXXX per month through Cosmos, or having XXXX number of Litcoin exchanges that month, etc.), completing a creative project, or otherwise marking goals “complete.” This prompts new goals to be defined, and triggers system “celebration” in the form of “unlocking,” unveiling or “dripping” new features or perks to the user. Individual success is factored into Cosmos’ whole-system leveling up, too (see below).

Note: In theory someone could game the system to show intense progress just by reporting goals and then reporting their completion. Perhaps irregular behavior in this regard is something Cosmos’ MindfulAI keeps a proverbial eye out for. And/or, perhaps Cosmos has strong standards for inviting in, vetting, and onboarding members, creating a sense of duty and trust for appropriately playing the game, and in this way Cosmos aims to control for having participant-players who are only concerned with honest, earnest use of the system. E.g., peer-to-peer “accountabili-buddies” (see also: Cosmopods), mentoring, and other meaningful relationships can help constrain distortion or misuse of the system. Who wants “empty wins” when the whole point of the game is meaningful self-actualization, anyway?

Wrt individual member leveling up, see also: Spectrum of Engagement. By definition, “leveling up” MAY involve crossing Cosmos-defined membranes progressively, becoming absorbed into inner, more intensive and therefore more exclusive, levels. For instance, attaining a new level of mastery in a badge one holds may be reflected in access to higher-level paid opportunities, a pay raise, and access to different communities, too. This would effect the “unlocking of a perk” defined by Cosmos—reach XX level on your badge, receive XX rewards (or unlock the opportunity to receive XX rewards). Additionally, users may also choose to “opt in” to the “locking” of certain perks on the platform conditionally until their personal goals are met (e.g. locking access to a beloved conversational group until Goal A is fulfilled).

Access to certain spaces, utilities, or benefits may be restricted to a user until they intensify their engagement with Cosmos and/or level up on their own personal leaderboards. Because Cosmos so values its users’ productive contributions (that is, sweat equity is considered at a premium), Cosmos may allow people to perform tasks not for pay, but for “room keys” to access “Plug Ins” (e.g. features, services, applications, etc.) that are highly desirable to the particular user (e.g. a new podcaster being enticed with the opportunity to access full-service professional 24/7 support line for new podcasters). (This may be accomplished directly by putting this “bounty” on a task, or indirectly, by paying Litcoin for the work and then the user reinvesting that Litcoin in the podcasting service.)

The dashboard, where users input their aspirations, is also a good place for Cosmos to ascertain which tailored options of perks and benefits would most entice a user to strive toward their goals. Furthermore, one of the perks Cosmos might make available to its members would be “early access passes” on a highly anticipated features—I.e. the privilege to become early users and beta testers to a new application in the Cosmos platform. This may be seen as a perk not only because of general prestige and scarcity, but also the opportunity to become an expert in that new application before others do, thus giving one an “edge” in becoming a highly valuable customer service, training or consulting “worker” on that new app.

Consider that when a new member joins, their potential and actual value to Cosmos remains mostly a mystery. From the moment they begin participating as members (with Litcoin, access to platform-specific spaces, utilities, and features, etc.), the system can begin the process of gauging the value the member generates on the platform and measuring multiple types of value using multiple methods. This data feeds into not only the member’s individual goal attainment, but also Cosmos’ understanding of its own latent capacity and degree of actualized potential as a whole.

Cosmos leveling up. Cosmos and its various key functions would also have goals defined for its/their own leveling up. For example: at an early stage, Cosmos’ goal might be to raise $10,000 in funds to incorporate the co-op. Once that goal was met and incorporation processes implemented, that in-and-of itself would likely cascade into much more capacities in the organization—which leads to the definition of future goals. And so on.

As part of the whole system’s pathway to growth (that is: Cosmos-as-a-whole’s own “player’s journey,”), users’ progressive engagement with a platform is one big way that Cosmos measures its own growth. For example, users may be required—simply by the nature of the tasks Cosmos has to accomplish collectively in order to level up—to perform distributed tasks, or rack up a certain number or quality of an interaction, or otherwise create certain forms of value on/to Cosmos. Such progress at the individual level—e.g. investing more into using creative suite apps, selling more through the marketplace, performing more paid work in the platform, or leveling up one’s badges—this all reflects on the growth of Cosmos’ capacity. When Cosmos’ capacity is enriched, this functionally means the ability to create more value for its users, in the form of new benefits, new features or functions, or improvements to the platform/services, etc. Joint “leveling up” is an occasion for celebration, too! To celebrate socially and with sensory pleasure as a ritual to honor the journey and acknowledge “We defined the goals, we strived towards them, and now, we’ve crossed that threshhold and get to receive new rewards (that we’ve also defined!)” Leveling up events are community bonding moments.

Too, the distributed collective of numerous users (or, more specifically, the intelligence embodied in the overall community) is afforded progressively more responsibilities as it itself matures (that is, as people mature in the cultural, social and governance practices of the organization). At first, though we may use praxis process templates to attempt to involve everyone, the Spectrum of Engagement will be quite pronounced—with a small number of people intensively involved and many people only slightly involved. As a result, “Cosmos” is more skewed toward the influence of the small group of heavily involved individuals. These people have effectively forged Cosmos’ DNA and begun the process of constructing it, and therefore may be more privileged to “speak for the organism.” This is not a problem so much as it is a condition of early stages of any initiative’s development.

As the “Cosmos” game levels up, as certain structural criteria and functional capacity are realized, “leveling up” events would coincide to trigger the distribution of progressively more control to the membership—“dripping” various protected powers from the network of executive-level decision-makers to the overall members distributed network—effectuated by an adjustment in governance algorithms. Once Cosmos reaches fruition as a thriving meta-organism, secure in its collective genius and well on its way to self-actualization, one could envision that all powers would be distributed in such a way as to optimize for the autonomy, accountability and interconnectedness of all members. One could imagine this “Cosmos Level 100,” or an infinite threshhold (approaching a distributed autonomous organization ) in which the need for concentrated nodes of power to enable the organization’s function have been “designed out.”

The Mechanics of Leveling Up. Cosmos’ leveling up is functionally constrained by two factors:

  1. 1)The system’s capacity compared with its current and anticipated future needs,
  2. 2)Users’ autonomous pursuit of more participation or contribution opportunities within Cosmos.

The latter (#2) ties to an individual’s personal goals (which may involve using the platform to: gain more knowledge, skills or responsibilities; incubate, produce, publish and promote a specific creative product; have more of a certain kind of experience or relationship; spend more time focused on certain topics, themes or in aligned spaces, etc). It will also depend on their capacity—again, in multiple forms of capital—such as their ability to invest financially, invest skilled (knowledge-rich) labor, invest time and energy, etc.

The former (#1) ties to the collective’s co-created goals–an amalgam of individual goals plus collectively-defined aspirations, as represented in Cosmos’ system-wide “player’s journey” map.

These goals co-exist and are continually being refined upon. Levels, in a model, also can be represented by concentric circles representing “horizons” of current limitations and areas of growth beyond that. This mirrors self-actualization and mastery pathways, and engagement loops of learning.

In the gamified presentation of information, opportunities will be presented to users through the system interface based on an algorithm weighing user interests and objectives (#2) with system needs (#1). However, the algorithm would also mix in a degree of randomization or “surprise,” thus ensuring a fun, challenging, non-uniform experience and making slightly more of a “lottery” out of scarce but highly valuable opportunities. This helps ensure equity. For example: let’s say one of the most appealing perks users could attain on Cosmos is candidacy for alpha testing or sponsoring exciting new feature proposals. As discussed above, not only is it exciting to be the first to experience an exciting new feature, and one becomes privileged in one’s knowledge of that new feature—early contributors to new features that become indispensible, valuable parts of Cosmos’ architecture even have the propensity to earn residual, royalty income from their early contributions. (In fact, this is true across any product developed out of user contributions - see Praxis Process). Seats in these alpha tester groups would be limited and distributed to user’s dashes on the basis of a combination of known, appropriate factors (such as: users’ stated aspirations, their interests, their earned trust and participation depths as measured by Cointribute and Litcoin, etc.) AND by a randomized “lottery” rule working in tandem. Thus adding to the fun and positive “risk” for each user of playing the Cosmos “game.”

Other/Playbook Games. As mentioned elsewhere, there’s ample opportunity for users to adopt their own “Playbook games” as part of their user experience. This could mean engaging in teams, groups or “leagues” that are already playing a certain kind of game—which may or may not be competitive. Performance games may factor considerably into the way that users experience, and Cosmos facilitates, the earning of badges. Users may even be able to search for and find—or have assistance from the system in finding—games that they especially are attracted to playing, based on their personal tastes: e.g. one user preferring more collaborative cooperative endeavors, such as co-writing a book, while another prefers more competitive tournament opportunities in which one’s skills are tested and “leveled up,” etc.

Not all game play MUST tie back to one’s main goals (the self-actualization “progression game”) of course! Pleasure, relaxation and socialization are surely reasons to play games in Cosmos, regardless. While such play may not explicitly factor into one’s self-actualization (one’s personal leaderboard), it may, actually, be reflected in Cosmos’ overall progress, insofar as such gameplay is measured as “participation” or activity/engagement by users.

Hello @care_save, I am curious if you might have seen this dashboard?

This is really cool, @DurwinFoster! Love the ethic of “you pay for Exist. Your data and you are never the product.” Seems very aligned with Cosmos. I see a potential to explore a partnership here…

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