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Before the introduction of bronze tag badges, the only requirement for silver/gold tag badges was 400/1000 upvotes. This permitted a notable Tag-badges exploit, namely, a single answer with 1000+ upvotes could earn any desired gold tag badge. When bronze tag badges were added in September 2010, this was accompanied by additional citeria for earning tag badges. Quoting user waffles:

We would like tag experts to get the tag based badges; we would like it to show long term commitment to questions with a particular tag.

Proposed changes, to protect against gaming and make the badge fairer

  1. Automatically take away tag based badges if the criteria is no longer met.
  2. Require a minimum number of non-wiki answers in the tag to get the tag-based badge (around 20 answers for bronze, 80 for silver, 200 for gold) AS well as a total score.
  3. [...]

Let's take a look at the consequences of criterion no. 2 for five cases, using bronze tag badges as example:

                          A         B         C         D         E

No. of non-wiki           1         4        10        15        20
answers in tag

Total tag score         100       100       100       100       100

Average score           100        25        10       6.7         5
per answer

Corresponding         Great      Good      Nice        --        --
answer badge         Answer    Answer    Answer

Eligible for             No        No        No        No       Yes
bronze tag badge

Right now, only case E (20 answers with an average score of 5) is eligible for a bronze tag badge. Awarding such a badge in case A (one answer with a score of 100) would amount to the exploit described above, as a single answer surely does not "show long term commitment" to a particular tag. Case B (four answers with an average score of 25) isn't that bad, but arguably still doesn't constitute enough commitment.

In case C (10 answers with an average score of 10), the average score corresponds to the lowest-level answer badge ("Nice Answer"), but is too high for a bronze tag badge. And more notably, in case D (15 answers with an average score of 6.7), the average score is too low even for the lowest-level answer badge, but still too high for a bronze tag badge.

In my opinion, the situation in case D ("too low and too high") is rather unfavorable and should be avoided. I suggest that case C, an average answer score that barely meets the "Nice Answer" criterion, should also barely meet the criterion for tag badges. Taking into account the respective required total scores, I suggest to reduce the required number of non-wiki answers for bronze/silver/gold tag badges to 10/40/100.

Disclosure: Until now, I have earned 3 silver tag badges and 29 bronze tag badges at tex.stackexchange. My proposal would earn me another 2 bronze tag badges ("typography": 16 answers/total score 116; "punctuation": 15 answers/total score 112).

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Would those that down voted, please provide some reasoning behind it? Just because you disagree, should not be a reason for a down vote? –  Peter Grill Feb 23 '12 at 22:27
3  
@PeterGrill: Actually, here on Meta, disagreement with a suggestion is a reason for a down vote. –  gnostradamus Feb 23 '12 at 22:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'm inclined to disagree that this change is necessary. The crux of your argument seems to be that the number of answers required for a tag badge should be chosen such that it will simultaneously meet the criteria for both an answer badge and a tag badge. But these badges are awarded for very different purposes, and there's no reason to think that they must be tied together in this way. Answer badges are for exceptional single answers. Tag badges are for long-term, quality participation in a tag.

Another reason I disagree is because having higher thresholds for the number of answers required for a tag badge effectively normalizes participation in high-traffic versus niche tags. In very popular tags, the upvotes can flow like wine. It can be trivial to get high scoring answers and thus easily meet the upvote criteria for a tag badge. Without a higher requirement on the number of answers given, users could get tag badges much more easily in popular tags. In niche tags, the upvotes don't often come as easy due to less traffic. By the time you meet the criteria for the number of answers for a tag badge, you may not have even met the upvote criteria yet.

In short, a lower threshold on the number of answers required for a tag badge may simply give more to those who already have plenty (i.e. "the rich get richer"). Users participating in popular tags will likely get tag badges faster (along with all the other answer badges they are also probably getting), while users participating in niche tags will likely still be getting their tag badges at the same rate as before. A higher threshold on the number of answers required levels the playing field more between tags with widely varying traffic.

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+1 for the hint about popular v. niche tags. At tex.stackexchange, the traffic and vote numbers don't seem to differ that much between tags. –  lockstep Feb 23 '12 at 22:13
    
Meh. I have a gold badge for a tag that gets maybe a dozen questions per day. I've answered roughly 1/20th of all questions asked in the tag, my median score per answer is 7, and the mean is closer to 10. On the other hand I see plenty of people with gold badges for popular tags whose average score per answer is 2 or 3 at best. So, yeah. From what I can see, tag badges are all about rewarding quantity, not quality. –  McCannot Oct 10 '12 at 17:12

I disagree. The idea is to make you participate more. All I'm seeing is the required amount of participation being cut in half in order to get the badge. The average user will have way more than 20 answers in a tag before they reach 100 total score. We really don't want people being awarded the badge for getting 10 upvotes on only 10 questions. I think the limits are fine as they are.

The sites aren't here for people to collect badges. The badges are here to encourage people to participate in and be helpful to the community. Your statistics seem to focus more on the unfairness of how badges are awarded rather than how much a user is participating.

The way I see it: if a user posted 10 answers that all got 10 upvotes, good, they deserve the badges they got. Those were obviously good answers. When you jump over to Case D, the average may be 6.7, but that's not a real number you can get. If the user posted an answer that got to 10 upvotes and they deserve the badge, they'll get it. If not, oh well. What does that have to do with the tag badges?

As for gaming: You have to account for downvotes too. It's not easy to game the tag badges. You can't just go post crap answers all over the place because you'll accumulate downvotes, which will decrease your score in that tag. So while you may be increasing the number of answers you've made, you'll be decreasing the number of points you have. Tag badges are only awarded once a day when the tag counts update, so unless you spam a ton of answers right before the new day, gaming is quite difficult. If you do spam answers that don't accumulate downvotes, then it's not really gaming because apparently it's not a wrong answer, it's just not the best answer.

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