Totally wasn't expecting that. I became a senior member with my 450th or so post, and was expecting to slowly climb up to High Elder, but I got a premature promotion. Why was the system fixed if it ain't even broke?
Good question! There were two areas where there was a problem:
- At the top. Our levels only went so high; we now have at least 1 user (with more to follow) who have surpassed the top level and, if the system were expanded, would have deserved a higher title. Instead of leaving the system as-is (with the top level collecting many more people and offering no further differentiation) or adding to an already large list of titles, it was decided to make the higher levels harder to attain.
- At the bottom. The "lower" levels were super-condensed: about 99% of the members were clumped into the bottom 4 user groups (keep in mind that 82%+ of users are in the "less than 25" group), which meant that you had a good portion of the 17% of the forum that are below 3,500 posts trapped in the lowest levels. To make the titles more descriptive of where someone was compared to the group, we made the lower levels more easily attainable up to a point (3,500 posts).
The combination of these two moves accomplished what we were shooting for: a distribution of users in each group that resembles the curve of 1/x rather than the wavy line it was before. The groups are better spaced based on people's actual posting patterns (shorter posting distances for lower levels, then larger ones, progressively increasing), rather than on completely arbitrary standards (OK, these 3 groups should be spaced by 500 posts, then these next 5 groups by 1000 posts, etc.).