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Has there been any discussion about denoting the experts of certain topics, for example MVPs or Microsoft employees in the small profile icon?

This way users can quickly distinguish between random internet morons like myself, and the ones accredited with their chosen speciality?

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I may be random and on the internet, but I am no moron, sir! –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 4 '09 at 20:14
    
Sounds like a good idea for a badge –  Chris S Aug 4 '09 at 20:15
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@Pesto, To be fair, there are plenty of non-random morons on the internet. –  devinb Aug 4 '09 at 20:37
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I may be a moron, but I am not random! –  mmyers Aug 4 '09 at 21:52
    
Have you seen what some ms buffoons did with ie6/Vista/MS Ajax etc etc –  redsquare Aug 4 '09 at 21:57
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@redsquare. Yes. But I'm not sure how that's relevant. Unless you're implying that everyone who associates with Microsoft is useless because of those products. You can pick any company and make a list of their failures if it makes you feel better. That doesn't make the employees less worthy of their due recognition. –  devinb Aug 4 '09 at 22:32
    
what's wrong with ie6?! –  Chris S Aug 4 '09 at 22:55
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what's this about random people? –  random Aug 5 '09 at 0:13
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@Chris S: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it! –  Piskvor Aug 26 '10 at 20:29
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Am I the only one who has no idea what MVP stands for? –  hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 9:59

8 Answers 8

up vote 35 down vote accepted

Why can't these users simply put this in their profile page?

These things shouldn't make a user absolutely trusted by anyone anyway. Voting should be done based on the quality of the post, not the user.

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+1 would upvote again –  XMLbog Aug 4 '09 at 19:32
    
+1 from me & Andy Mikula. –  kd304 Aug 4 '09 at 21:57
    
+1 - I agree...SO levels the playing field, we don't really need a pseudo-tier of MVP's or other such industry superstar ratings. –  Kev Aug 5 '09 at 9:52

No. Please, please, no!

If someone gives a clear answer, supports it with references to authoritative sources, provides easy-to-follow examples, and patiently answers follow-up questions... Then that's enough, even if it's the only answer they've ever provided on the site, and googling their name turns up nothing but a lone blog post from 2001... about cats.

If someone gives a brief, unclear answer, with no supporting references, missing or unhelpful examples, and steadfastly ignores follow-up questions... Then it's not enough, even if they have a high reputation number on SO, are heavily awarded by various industry organizations, have written several books on the topic, and currently hold the top spot on Google for the best programmer ever.

Judge people by their answers. Or better yet, don't. Just judge the answers, ignore the people. SO is no place to be resting on your laurels... We're here to answer questions, not fawn over celebrities.

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Chris S thinks otherwise. +1 –  kd304 Aug 4 '09 at 19:57
    
I don't, infact I'm the same opinion as shog9, that's why I tagged it discussion. I was just curious what people thought having seen it all over the asp.net forums –  Chris S Aug 4 '09 at 20:05
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Ha! It was actually the MSDN forums that I had in mind while writing this... Very irritating, to find a thread asking the question i'm searching for an answer to, with one bad answer by an MVP. I'd rather find no answers, than one containing little beyond a big fat signature and a link to irrelevant documentation, written by someone who obviously doesn't even understand the question but has committed himself to meeting some quota of answers anyway... perhaps so he can hold onto this dubious award. –  Shog9 Aug 4 '09 at 20:10
    
@Shog: This occurs because MVPs are those that evangelize Microsoft products to the communities. MCP (and up) are ones that actually have to take a test. The MSDN forums do bug me, though, since that MVP badge is worn as authority, wherein they really are just the most active. Most of the time, one begets the other, but there are a fair amount of exceptions. –  Eric Aug 4 '09 at 20:33
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@Shog9: I don't have any quota of answers, nor does any other MVP I know. In fact, I haven't even been asked to provide any answers. The award is more for what you've been doing recently than being about what Microsoft expects you to be doing in future. –  John Saunders Aug 5 '09 at 14:40
    
@John: I apologize - didn't intend any disrespect to you or anyone else. There's a decent chance that the answers i tend to search for are obscure enough that no one has a ready answer, and what i'm seeing are simply good-faith attempts by a forum regular to provide some guidance to a user who would otherwise be ignored. But it still looks bad from the outside - i know MVP is awarded as a reward, but i also know it's a PR thing, and it's easy to read too much into that when seeing it next to a poor-quality answer. Probably another good reason not to make such awards too visible... –  Shog9 Aug 5 '09 at 15:32
    
@Shog9: I don't get what you mean about it being a PR thing. Can you post the link to the Forums post you were referring to? –  John Saunders Aug 7 '09 at 21:04

MVPs are awarded by Microsoft for those that help spread the word to the community more than it is to experts. The more you know...

Regardless, this isn't a Microsoft (or any other company's) site, and the only currency on here is reputation. We vote up answers so that you can quickly distinguish between random morons and decent responses.

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Oh really? Explain blankman then: stackoverflow.com/users/39677/blankman –  GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 19:24
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@Rich: I votes on answers was the way to distinguish, but that reputation was the only way you can get a semblence for their history. Reputation is not the be-all end-all. I worded my response specifically as such. –  Eric Aug 4 '09 at 19:26
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I said votes on answers...dammit... –  Eric Aug 4 '09 at 19:26
    
@Rich B - agreed, reputation is not a 100% indicator, but it can be a helpful start. In the same vein, voting is not a 100% indicator either; people must be smart consumers of information if they want the best answer for their situation. –  Timothy Carter Aug 4 '09 at 19:27
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some of Blankman's questions are fairly solid. I could point to a LOT of other "asks lots of questions" users that are far worse –  Jeff Atwood Aug 4 '09 at 19:31
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I agree that some are solid, but that's right up there with saying even the worst baseball player has a shot at hitting a home run if you give him enough at-bats. It doesn't exactly instill confidence. –  TheTXI Aug 4 '09 at 19:33
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@Jeff: 'Solid'? I don't think there has been a single one that didn't need fairly serious overhauling. The user never learns from all the edits that are done to his posts. –  GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 19:34
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Blankman is the mascot, though. It's his photograph on the novelty coffee mugs that say, Stackoverflow - questions from people who don't like learning. –  XMLbog Aug 4 '09 at 19:35
    
MVP was just an example. It could extend to CISCO qualified people for serverfault, java qualifications and so on –  Chris S Aug 4 '09 at 19:41
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@Chris: Again, who cares how someone is certified if their answer works? –  GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 19:42
    
I was playing devils advocate on this question though it's not that clear from the way I worded it. Typically MVPs have the highest rep anyway –  Chris S Aug 4 '09 at 20:08

Reputation and badges are, roughly speaking, SO's way of marking people as possible experts. Certainly you can't put too much weight into someone's reputation without doing a little research into how they achieved their rep. But regardless, I cannot see SO doing anything to provide "external" approval of a person. If you want to make your credentials known, you can put them in your profile.

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Give a MVP a badges and letting them start with 100 reps may be good if it gets more of them to use the site. Otherwise let everyone live by their rep.

Who will be the first person to get a MVP due to their ansers on StackOverflow?

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Perhaps Joel Coehoorn? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11115/… –  mmyers Aug 4 '09 at 21:54

Put the information in your profile.

From what I have seen, most people are pretty forthcoming about their information and I haven't seen much in the way of posers and fakers.

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Jay Stevens did it is swear ;) –  kd304 Aug 4 '09 at 19:41
    
I'm GOING to be an MVP. Can I get the badge before I'm officially recognized? –  devinb Aug 4 '09 at 20:40
    
@devin: Here you go: uvshock.co.uk/badge.php?label=MVP%20-%20Being%20Awesome (also, congrats!) –  Eric Aug 4 '09 at 21:18

I have no interest in being identified as an MVP on this site, anywhere except in my profile. That's more than enough. I primarily put that information there (translated to acceptable HTML from a much prettier signature I use), so that, when needed, I can say, "go look at my profile and see if you see any reason I might be right about this". I think this has happened once in the five months I've been here.

Besides, my reputation here, especially as it distributes over tags, is a better indicator of the likely quality of my answers than my MVP-hood. I'm an MVP in the Connected Systems area (roughly, Web Services, etc). But my experience ranges over ASP.NET, SQL Server, SSIS, multi-threading issues, etc. If you only looked at my MVP award, you might wonder what I'd have to say about SSIS.

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@Downvoter: would you care to explain the reason for the downvote? I have not been able to imagine a reason to downvote this. –  John Saunders Aug 5 '09 at 14:36

My attitude on forums like these has always been that I'm a guy with an opinion and an ISP. The quality of my answer depends a whole lot more about what I say than that I have >10K of StackOverflow rep and a C++ badge. (The rep and badges are for personal gloating when I'm not asking or answering questions.)

However, if we are going to put rep and badge count next to our answers, we probably want to note relevant tag badges. We are apparently trying to indicate answers from more trustworthy sources, and I'm a lot more trustworthy answering C++ questions than Visual Basic questions.

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