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Alternately titled: Stack Overflow isn't the only site with Generalists!

The Generalist Badge's requirement that all qualifying tags need 200 questions means that, in practice, the badge is impossible on any non-trilogy site. Even the breakaway star of SE 2.0, Gaming, doesn't have enough 200 question tags for this to be possible. It appears the only sites where this badge is even possible are the top 8 sites on SE sorted by questions. That excludes another 77 SE sites and a couple dozen non-beta sites.

The badge is already extremely difficult, it really doesn't need a requirement based on site size rather than individual effort. Badges are supposed to encourage good user behavior; I don't see how this restriction enforces good user behavior in any way; it's an arbitrary punishment for existing on a smaller site.

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@YannisRizos still, why are only users the largest sites deserving of this badge? What possible value is there in this restriction? –  Ben Brocka Mar 31 '12 at 20:21
Restriction? No one is restricting a site from growing... There was a time when Generalist was impossible on Programmers, now even I have it. Anyways, badges are silly, I don't see any point in tweaking their criteria per site, they are simply not that important. –  Yannis Mar 31 '12 at 20:29
It could be argued that having the Generalist badge awarded is a milestone in a site's growth. It shows it's broad and deep. –  ChrisF Mar 31 '12 at 20:32
@ChrisF that's cute for the site. Annoying for the people actively participating. Why are we mixing site stats with user accomplishments? –  Ben Brocka Mar 31 '12 at 20:35
So, what happens when the site grows? Do we set the threshold back to 200? Or are you proposing a ratio based on total questions? And do people getting the badge with a lower threshold today deserve it as much as people earning it with a higher threshold tomorrow? –  Yannis Mar 31 '12 at 20:46
Are the N instance of "Won't someone please define how to get the Generalist badge?" questions on meta still findable? We went for circa two years without it on Stack Overflow. –  dmckee Mar 31 '12 at 21:02

1 Answer 1

The description for the Generalist badge doesn't mention the 200 questions per top tag requirement, so I'll just copy the description from the list of all badges with full descriptions so everyone knows what we are talking about:


  • silver; awarded once
  • Earn a tag score of 15 on one of the top 40 tags
  • Repeat the above step until any 20 of the top 40 tags are covered
  • Only awarded to anyone after each of the 40 top tags has at least 200 questions

Having earned the badge on Programmers, let me start by saying it's one of the most satisfying badges there are, I really do get where you are coming from. But adjusting its criteria per site doesn't make much sense:

  • When I get the badge on a different site, I want it to be for exactly the same reasons as on Programmers.
  • A smaller graduate site can only grow, it's only a matter of time. There is no restriction here, Generalist will be attainable on all sites eventually.
  • If we lower the question threshold on a site, and people start earning the badge, what happens when the site grows? If we restore the threshold, then Generalists on the same site will have earned the badge under different criteria and if we don't restore it, then the badge will be easier to get even when the site grows as much as the top eight sites. Unfair, either way.

And in the end, does it really matter? It's just a badge, always cool when you get one, but not really something you should waste any time thinking about. Arbitrary punishment? Meh, almost every noteworthy badge is more difficult to get on a smaller site, and will naturally get easier over time. Generalist's inherent difficulty may be annoying, but can also serve as a milestone in a site's growth, as @ChrisF mentioned.

I vaguely remember looking at the list of badges when I was a noob on SO, and I can see how it can be a bit frustrating to see a badge there that can't be earned for a while. It might make some sense to remove the badge from the list until it's actually attainable, or add the 200 questions per tag requirement in it's description.

Or do nothing at all, it's just a silly badge.

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"Or do nothing at all, it's just a silly badge." This. There is no guarantee made that all the badges are actually earnable by every user. –  Cody Gray Apr 1 '12 at 0:25

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