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The one common theme here, and frankly, in most social network site strategies, is 'ego'. By specifically playing to your users' vanity as well as other group social queues, StackExchange exploits baser needs and desires that are far more compelling than the more traditional target of financial compensation. This current trend of MMORPGs, and the game-ification of previously more mundane tasks is more about positive reinforcement through ego enhancement than it is about entertainment. If a 'player' does something well, reward them highly in front of their peers, and if they fail or operate outside of social custom, shame them so they don't repeat the mistake. Sites like Facebook don't offer much in explicit functionality to support this behavior (aside from Liking or de-friending/relationship statuses), however users will and do develop their own systems of group dynamics regulation. StackExchange, on the other hand, has features designed to directly regulate social standing (Up/down voting, ribbons, superlatives, etc). This helps quickly materialize a social structure which can then easily tag content at various degrees of authority (at least as far as the community is currently concerned).
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Dec 23, 2011