My 8-year take on Points and the site

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This site has changed tremendously in the time I've used it for my journey. Most of the changes have been absolutely fantastic; the once difficult-to-navigate site with hidden articles is now so easy to use! Perhaps one of the best changes was the development of the tab system; new members can find what they need without the amount of help once necessary. Class Teams' participation is down because this and other features eliminated the once prevalent confusion new members faced when they joined.

One aspect never really made sense to me: SparkPoints. SparkPoints have meant very little to me since the first day I joined SP, yet many people find them encouraging; for them, the points are valuable because as they amass points they explore the site further and grow more. Excellent!

My point totals never reflected the amount of time, energy or growth I've gained here at SparkPeople. Why not? Quite simple: I have never clicked for points just because I read an article or watched a video or slide, etc. For me, the SparkPoints PAGE had and has more value; I used/use it as a check-off list of the daily features that I want to be sure I do. As such the points are to me nothing more than check marks that say "I did that today".

Points. I've never been into them at all and often in the past would read or do things without clicking for points. This used to be especially true of articles that meant the MOST to me. Why? Because it used to be that if we clicked for points the articles were marked as having been read; for me, NOT clicking meant that I might be re-reading the articles I found most helpful!

Then, SP made it so that we could delete the 'read' notations of articles that we'd read more than six months prior by merely clicking a spot on the account pages. That made sense to me. We grow and in re-reading articles after 6 months or a year read with different perceptions. And now? I can get points for the same article day after day; not sure I like that at all, to be honest. But this beats the old system because once upon a time a member could have read an article one year and two years of growth later would see it from a different light and not get points. I find I'm wasting time looking at articles I'd read just a month ago because I won't remember the titles.

I now spin the wheel/s and even click the flags, even though I think they distort actual accomplishments. And the points totals mean even less than they ever did. We get points for activities that I did automatically but don't get points for things like team leadership (an unpaid job when we really put our hearts into the tasks). Points seem distracting to me because it seems that many people think progress is revealed by those number totals; in fact, progress does not show anywhere but in real life, in the changes we've made, the improved results observed on scales or in doctor visits or that terrific feeling in the abdomen as we walk more comfortably and for longer distances!

Whether a person is a pointaholic or a JustDontCareAboutPoints person, focus on real life movements towards a healthy lifestyle remains the most important achievement for us all. If watching those point numbers add up motivates you? Go for it! Just make sure that when you click for points you have gained SOMEthing so the points have meaning. When you clickclickclick on the Start Page, do take time and thought so that you read each of the goals before getting those 5 points; taking care to personalize your goals will make the 5 points have true meaning, so looking at each of them WILL bolster your commitments to yourself.

Do points motivate YOU? Pros and cons?

As for me, I still don't care about the points but if someone ever sees them I guess the even lower than it should be number will indicate I've been active on the site. And as for you? Whatever your goals, whatever is most helpful to you: remember this maze of a site has it all whether you have a ton of points or bare minimum.

emoticon I've now been active on SP for eight years. And am pleased to note that several of the people who also have been here that long or longer are still active, still growing as each of us reach toward ever-evolving goals. To those who have not been here long or who feel discourage or even feel they've outgrown the site because they've reached initial goals, I say revamp how you use the site, reconsider how you perceive those SparkPoints, re-energize and revitalize. Whether you mean to amass points or not, this site's tools will grow with you. And you'll still learn, though in a different way and perhaps more intensely, from those same articles you read the first week you joined.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog!
    We definitely all use the site differently-isn't that flexibility part of the sucess?
    I admit I am a spark point freak but I think it is one reason I am here 6 years later and healthier than I have ever been (not much thinner, though).

    2253 days ago
    I just saw this blog and I have been here a long time too...(but where HAVE I been?) Mostly reading and lurking and not taking part in the challenges which are definitely helpful) The points keep me aware that I am staying active on the site. I love the goodie points so I can share some virtual gifts to the friends I have made here. Yes, things have changed some good, some not so much - but I hang on. The articles are super..the resources are great and I LOVE SPARKPEOPLE.. That is why I keep coming back. To see how my friends are doing and to celebrate their successes.. As Don says..(and he was one of my first friends when I was green, scared and nervous of the whole idea of online friends.) the points have me hooked.... emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2272 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14566395
    Its not a motivation for me to get points but it is a motivation for others. When I get points. I can motivate them with a goodie on there page. To go to your page and see a goodie somehow just makes your day a little brighter. emoticon emoticon I also love sharing in there joy as well. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    I think the only thing I don't like is all the popups but also understand why they need them and I like a free site. emoticon
    2289 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/27/2015 2:58:10 AM
    Love your blog.
    2301 days ago
    Great post. I find reading my friends posts helps motivate me the most.
    2309 days ago
    You are SO right - " progress does not show anywhere but in real life, in the changes we've made, the improved results observed on scales or in doctor visits or that terrific feeling in the abdomen as we walk more comfortably and for longer distances!" For those hooked on points, WooHoo!!! For those who couldn't care less about points, WooHoo!!! We're all different and must find what works for US. After 8 years, it's clear you've figured out how to best make SparkPeople work for YOU and all your life changes!

    2314 days ago
    2314 days ago
    I have been here with you for 8 years now Sam. Sometime I worry
    if I don't get 100 points and it is getting harder to get the Goodies
    on the spin wheel. If I get points, I'm good, but I don't panic if I don't
    I love the articles. Have a great April Sam. emoticon
    2315 days ago
    I blog and track my food. I am also a member of You Are Not Alone team. That's about it. I don't do the points at all. I guess I am either not interested and or I don't need to to help me through this journey.
    2315 days ago
    emoticon In the beginning, the Spark Points Page was a Great way to 'Checkmark' that you had done everything possible to ensure that you were checking every thing that the site offered. Without them it would have been difficult (for Me) to remember to read the articles and Play the Trivia as often.
    Plus I think getting Spark Points for Reading and commenting on Blogs was a way to encourage New Members to interact with others.
    emoticon The Points aren't As Important now, but they are still fun. The Best thing is the Spark Friends that I've met through the Team Huddles (remember them?!) and the Teams themselves.
    2315 days ago
    I think at first I was motivated by the points. It helped me to always log on and work on me things. My doctor almost 10 years ago was the one who recommended Spark. For a few years I didn't use the site, but I always come back when I need to get serious about tracking my nutrition!!

    Now I don't much care about the points. In the beginning you needed points in order to give goodies, and I didn't have many, so I tried to get lots of points.

    You are right about progress showing in real life!!! That's what we should be striving for.


    2315 days ago
    Right from the start I've always had an attraction / repulsion to the whole points thing.

    I mean, we're supposed to be on this journey to reap the rewards of living a life filled with SPARK, not SparkPoints...right?

    At the same time, I will admit to being "snagged" by the whole SparkPoint thing and making sure I'm clicking away for those ephemeral "points" which really don't *mean* anything...and yet...

    What the heck, whatever it takes to HOOK one on the good stuff this site has to offer, right?

    While the SparkPoints may have "hooked"'s the wonderful support and generous sharing of so many super members of our SparkFamily that keeps me coming back through the years.

    2315 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.