Google is hoping to tempt people into sharing more content by introducing Foursquare-style 'badges' to its Google News service, allowing prolific content pushers to show off their achievements.
As part of the company's new push into sharing - at the heart of which is Google+, a so-called 'social sharing' service that aims to take on Twitter and Facebook at their own games and win - Google News users will be granted medals based on the amount of content they consume.
The badges, which are only available to those that consent to be tracked by enabling Google's web history functionality, are based on the topics read and ranked in the traditional way: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum can be achieved, with those who consume the most content granted an 'Ultimate' badge in their chosen field.
Google's reasoning for this new feature is threefold: first, it encourages more visits to Google News, which in turn means more advertising views; second, it convinces users to switch web history on, enriching the company's already broad analytics; finally, the more content users consume the more they are likely to share via services like Sparks in Google+.
By default, the badges are private. Anyone who's ever won a medal, however, will be aware that it's of little value if not shown off. As a result, Google allows users to share particular badges while keeping others hidden. We, for example, might share our Ultimate badge on technology news, while hiding our Platinum for celebrity paparazzi shots.
Currently, the badges are only valid on the US edition of Google News. We've reached out to Google to find out when the functionality will be coming to the UK, but the company is proving tight-lipped on this one with a disconnected phone and no response to e-mails.
To whet your appetite, however, we do have a video extolling the virtues of signing up to the service.