It sends a confusing mixed message — "this question is off topic but you get a cookie for it"
Badges are there to encourage positive behaviour, and nothing about them should be negative because:
- We don't penalize people. The only action that might fit that description is suspensions, and that's reserved for people actively and repeatability abusing the system. Otherwise penalizing people goes against the philosophy that draw all of us here.
- Badges are a fun way of signifying some largely unimportant achievements. They are not supposed to be taken seriously (badges and achievements).
Now closing a question it's not a penalty, it just our way of saying "darn, good question, but it doesn't fit the Q&A format" or "darn, good question, but it's outside the scope of the site". Yeap, it appears we say "darn" a lot.
I saw from your profile that you are a user on Programmers.SE, but you might not know about the chaotic early days. I don't want to go into detail, as a quick summary:
- Programmers was originally supposed to be something else,
- But in less than a few weeks it became apparent that didn't work as expected,
- Rules changed, and Programmers became what it is today.
Now, what's the point of that history lesson? Well, if you take a look at our list of highest voted questions, you'll be amazed of how many of them are closed. Most of them are from that early era, and when posted they where perfectly on topic. They might be closed today, but you can't deny that quite a few people invested their time in them, and most of them are still and always be extremely useful (and some are fantastically fun).
Should we somehow penalize those people, because at some point the rules changed?