To Notify or Not To Notify, That is the Question! 📧 🙋


Ranks/Ranking is an essential part of gamification.

Ranks are used to see who is actively participating in the community either by sharing content, submitting or answering questions, submitting or voting for ideas, etc. Ranks can drive engagement as well as lend credibility to users and their posts.

No wonder we get creative in coming up with ranks that that our community members can associate with. Along with the rank names/titles we also want to make sure that the points tied into ranks are equally representative of how users will level up to each succeeding ranks.

When it’s time to update ranks in a live community, we come up with cool names, think of adjusting points and the criteria for achieving ranks, but we might forget that if rank notifications via email is enabled, without us thinking about it, our community users will receive an email notification without them necessarily doing anything on their end as they qualify for the newly-adjusted ranks.

For visual reference, this is the section for email rank notifications that can be enabled by default:

Ideally, this can get folks excited about the new ranks, but for some members, these notifications can be a mystery and might generate concerns or worse, spam reports.

To mitigate this, we strongly recommend that whenever you think of updating your gamification mechanics, guidelines, points or rank system, consider first whether you would like your community users to get these notifications or not (and what notifications are being sent – it’s always a good idea to test it out on staging first!)

Before you make updates that will impact ranks, first, stop and think if you would like your users to get these updates.

• If not, to make the necessary updates that will impact ranks but not send an email notification to your community members, you may reach out to support to have the email notification disabled for you while you make the changes. The notification can be turned on again once you are done with the updates. Note: The default notification adjustment will only work if your members have not made any modifications to the notification settings on their end.

• If you do decide to proceed, you will need to make necessary updates that will impact ranks and let your community members know (an announced post should do the trick and have the bonus of generating buzz!), then you may proceed with the updates and your community members will receive email notification as expected. So that users do not receive multiple updates, we recommend adjusting the highest rank first, and working your way down so that users only receive one email.

What do you think? To email or not to email? Do you add any special verbiage in your ranks’ emails?

For more fun information on ranks, checkout this Tip Tuesday from Hannah!


  • Kyna_Baker
    Kyna_Baker Vanilla Seedling

    This is interesting. I wish there was a way we could expose the ranks and points to our users so they could see where they are and how/what they need to do to get to the next rank. I just earned a new rank in this community and I have no context as to if it's good or bad or how far away I am from the next one. In my community I have this outlined in a post and linked to from my top nav, but it would be cool if it were built into the system somehow.

  • PiperWilson
    PiperWilson HLV Staff

    Hello @Kyna_Baker,

    Here's the post where we announced our new rank system. There's a screenshot of the levels and points in there.

    You've got me thinking, though. We'll consider adding an explanation of points to the rank emails or a post like you have. Thanks. 🤠

  • Rav Singh
    Rav Singh Vanilla Sundae

    I learned this the hard way about 3 or 4 weeks ago 😢.

    Was just adding an image to the moderator rank and a little later started getting a bunch of complaints of unsolicited emails being received from some users & partners 🤦. Based on the Activity page ~20K users were "promoted to Level 1" among others due to that edit 🙃

    I've switched off rank emails on production now until we implement our new rank structure.

  • Shauna
    Shauna HLV Staff

    @Kyna_Baker I think it's good to let users know a bit about ranks and how to get to the next one, but I'd also want to keep a few tricks up my sleeve in order to surprise and delight — it can be a bit of a balancing act, but I think there is a middle ground between clarity and transparency and leaving some room for folks to be surprised and get excited as they discover stuff.

    I love how @norahquan does this on their activity page: