Problem summary

Give users a way to reach their goal more quickly than they could before.


This user on has a flag weight of 145 - actions of this user will weigh much more than the actions of a newly signed up user.


  • Use to distinguish between rookie, normal, and power users.
  • Use to promote users that contribute quality content.
  • Use when your users are naturally divided into specific roles, where some powers are a natural given fact.

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Provide a way for users to earn a set of powers that will allow them to reach their goal more quickly than they could have before. This pattern is often used in combination with Unlocking features

In web design, there are two common roles that are most often rewarded with special powers: The contributor and curator role.

Reward the contributor and curator roles

A contributor is a person who posts stories, uploads images, makes comments, and in general adds content to a website. Contributions are essential for a website to have interesting content, however without filtering for quality content too many poor contributions can flood a website with otherwise good content. This is where the curator comes in.

Curators are the users who make an effort in defining what is quality content and what is not. They vote quality content up, flag content with profanity, and vote poor quality down.

The relationship between the contributors and curators are often intertwined in that users with a proven track record of quality content are immediately promoted more than a rookie user or a user with a poor track record.

Common powers given to users

There are several ways to empower users. Here is a list of common powers attained:

  • Vote comments up or down
  • Power vote – a user’s vote counts double, triple, or quadruple the vote of regular users
  • Delete resources – content, comments, posts, images, users
  • Create content – power to post specific types of content: polls, quizzes, or other specialized content
  • Contributions immediately promoted as quality – no need to wait for other users to vote it up


Becoming more powerful is something that everyone desires in real life. Being giving special powers, no matter in what form, all have in common that they give you a way to reach your goal more quickly than you could before1.


1 Jesse Schell, “The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses”, Carnegie Mellon University

More examples of the Powers pattern See all 2 example screenshots

User Interface Design Patterns