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Your "cake day" is the anniversary of the day you joined a site. These are probably most well known from Reddit, but are also supported in some other internet softwares, or from mods.

My experience, mostly from Reddit, is that cake days do nothing but generate noise - with potentially several people posting off-topic replies saying "happy cake day" and then the person who's cake day it is saying "thanks". This noise usually doesn't get deleted either, so, a day, a week, or months later those posts will still be there.

I assume that some people must get a momentary buzz from getting congratulated for registering some number of years ago, but it's not like it's a birthday. The downsides seem to be to strongly outweigh any slight benefit.

Does anyone have experience from a community they run where they've been able to turn cake days into a net positive, where it doesn't just produce noise, and where it's actually a meaningful date for the members, one they actually remember and anticipate before it arrives?

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Yes, I would say so!

Here's the circumstances:

  • Smallish online community (phb board. Forum for discussing the works of one Fantasy/Sci Fi author.)
  • Has a separate thread for these "Watchiversaries," anniversaries of joining that forum.
  • The community has existed in its current form since about 2002. (migrated from another board mechanism or what-not before that.)

And here are some benefits, as I see them:

  • Greeting each-other casually would tend to be more useful in a familiar group.
  • If you're in an argument with someone, but you have a regular habit of noticing and congratulating people on their "Watchiversary," it's a way of showing goodwill.
  • It's good for people who've been away for awhile. If someone posts to someone who's away, (and yes, it does happen) others are reminded of that person, and maybe someone will PM them or email or such.
  • It's a way of talking about the passage of time and the commitment of the members to the community.

In this small online forum, (with about 30 people logging on any given weekday) "sticking around" for the long haul is really valued.

And stepping back into a dialogue after having been away for a long time is ...it's still not very easy or natural. So having a few light and social threads like that which send the message "We're thinking of you," "We appreciate you're one of us." is kind of helpful.

RE: just generating noise, though - I hear ya! Once I was the worst offender in this area. I posted on a thread where there was an intense debate on a hot-button topic in order to tell people I'd posted "congrats for 1000th post" to one of my friends who was involved in said debate. I will now pretend that never happened... or I can just say I learned from it. :)

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0

I Consider These E-cakes a trick designed to addict you to the service by releasing dopamine in your brain, thus making you pressured by your addiction --and your fear of missing out, and peer pressure and the bullying that occurs if you miss it-- to open said service on said e-cake day.

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