NewsWorks is a news community with this motto: "For you. With you. By you."
We love it when you read or watch what the NewsWorks/WHYY staff offers each day, but we're even happier when you contribute your own thoughts and work to the community. We want this to be a place where you spend lots of time - and find that time to be full of rewards.
So that's why we've created Ben Bucks. (Yep, it's Philadelphia; you can't get away from Mr. Franklin.)
Ben Bucks is a system that automatically rewards any registered user for doing the things NewsWorks encourages: doing your MindMap sending story tips, reading stories, viewing slide shows and videos, making comments on stories, rating comments. Visit Speak Easy, our participatory blog. You can rack up lots of Ben Bucks there commenting on stories, writing essays, proposing Top 10 lists, and many other things. (Again, remember that only registered users earn Ben Bucks.) You also get points for persuading friends to register on NewsWorks.
As you pile up Ben Bucks, you qualify for rewards both virtual and tangible.
Virtual = Ben's Ladder
Once you sign up for NewsWorks, and are racking up Ben Bucks, you start to move up Ben's Ladder. Each rung on Ben's Ladder relates to a stage or role in Ben Franklin's life. The higher you go, the more roles you can play inside NewsWorks, and the more access you'll have to special NewsWorks content and events.
Tangible = Cake
The Cake system isn't operating yet, but we hope to get it going in 2011. When you reach certain Ben Bucks totals, you'll qualify for Cake. Why Cake? Because you get to have your Cake and use it, too. You can convert your points into coupons and other offers from local merchants. And here's the great thing: Even if you convert Bucks into Cake, you don't lose them on the virtual side. They still count towards your placement on Ben's Ladder and your status in the NewsWorks Community.
Once you register and log in, you can check your Ben Bucks total at any time in the black bar at the top of the screen. For more detail on how you've earned Bucks, just click on your profile. You'll see a dashboard telling you about your Ben Bucks/Ladder status and your recent activity. (You might learn that something you wrote has been praised by the community or promoted to a feature spot by the NewsWorks staff).
Here are the rungs on Ben's Ladder:
NEWCOMER: (Up to 5,000 points) — As a registered user, you're free to roam the site, as young Ben Franklin, just in from Boston, did around Colonial Philadelphia.
PRINTER: (5,000 to 20,000 points) — Getting to know the neighborhood, you're now an active user, commenting on stories, posting your own Mind Map profile, and contributing content to Speak Easy.
FOUNDER (20,000 to 50,000 points) — As Ben was when he founded the Junto and the Library, you're now an active, creative member. You are now a NewsWorks preferred poster, eligible to sign up for advance notice of coming Speak Easy discussions and prompts.
AUTHOR: (50,000 points to 100,000 points) — You're entering your prime, like Ben as he penned Poor Richard's Alamanac. You are now eligible for assignments to write conversation-starting essays on the site.
INVENTOR: (100,000 to 200,000 points) — In recognition of your efforts and creativity, you will be invited to be part of the annual NewsWorks users convention, where you can propose new features for the site. Just be careful with that kite and key.
AMBASSADOR: (200,000 to 300,000 points) — Now an honored figure in this digital republic, you will be featured on the site as a NewsWorks Ambassador, and will receive invitations to special NewsWorks events.
SAGE: (300,000 to 400,000 points) — As a respected voice, you will be invited to serve as moderator/editor in Speak Easy, and to take part in quarterly NewsWorks community conventions.
LEGEND: (400,000 points and above) — Having achieved rare status, you will be listed as a "contributing member" of the NewsWorks staff on the Web site.