Badges. We've got them. You've got them (probably). You should go take a look at them. Or, read this. I spent time on it.
What are badges?
Well, strictly speaking they're little icons that will appear on your profile page after you take certain actions or hit certain milestones within the community. I mean, that's what they are on paper (or rather, on screen). What they represent, of course, is your involvement in the community. We hope over time you'll come to treat them as achievements, as marks of honor! Or at the very least a thing you cannot help but want to collect.
How do I earn badges?
You get awarded badges for a variety of accomplishments, like making posts in the forums, liking other people's posts, having your replies accepted as solutions, and so on. You'll get some badges just for being here at the right time!
In some cases you'll be able to see what the criteria is for getting a badge from your profile page. However, many badges are hidden and won't be visible until you - or someone else - is awarded them. Check out other forum members' badges to see what they've managed to pick up.
We'll be adding more badges over time, as well... and some badges might only be gained when you've collected a combination of others. So don't forget to keep coming back to earn more.
How will I know when I've earned a badge?
Two ways - you'll get an email, and you should see a pop-up notification. Then get on over to your profile page to see your new badge.
Where can I view my badges in all their pixel-perfect glory?
On your profile page, of course! The latest badges you have earned will be displayed here, with all of your badges on the dedicated badges page. If you see a badge that is looking slightly dull and transparent, that's because you haven't added it to your collection yet. Better get on that.
Hey! I'm pretty sure I should have a badge and I don't see it!
Send me a PM and I'll look into it. Don't make me use this on you, though.
(It's possible I implemented the entire badge structure just to use that gag. Possible. But you can't prove a thing.)