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Is anyone thinking about changing the color of various SO badges based on the number of people who achieve them? Some examples as of today (1 July 2009):

  • Disciplined (bronze) has been awarded 616 times vs. Good Answer (bronze) 4316
  • Enlightened (silver) 4114 vs. Self-Learner (bronze) 1614

IMHO, Disciplined deserves to be upgraded to silver and Enlightened downgraded to bronze simply based on the award totals. I think that periodically re-coloring the badges allows the system to reflect how easy/difficult it is in practice to achieve them.

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I wouldn't really say how easy/difficult in practice, but how common. Disciplined is insanely easy to get, it just isn't particularly common. Having said that, this is still a good idea. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 1 '09 at 19:45
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Bill, it's only easy to get if you answer things wrong! :-) –  Paul Tomblin Jul 1 '09 at 20:21
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@Paul: Are you sure you're not thinking of the Peer Pressure badge? Disciplined is awarded for deleting a post with 3 or more upvotes. No need to be wrong. :) –  Bill the Lizard Jul 7 '09 at 2:33

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think the problem here is a misconception on what badges are for. I may be wrong but I believe badges are there to encourage good behaviour, rather than to be evenly awarded. It doesn't matter that a Silver one gets awarded more than a Bronze one, it matters that the appropriate behaviour is appropriately rewarded. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels indicate the level of desire for users to behave a certain way.

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The caveat: by changing their color (i.e. worth), you will change people's desire to get them, reskewing the data again. For example, more people will probably start deleting their upvoted posts if you make "Disciplined" a silver badge.

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I agree a shift might be warranted based on real data of how difficult it is to achieve a certain badge. However, I would add that the badge and it's color adds incentive, so perhaps something like self-learner or some other bronze proving difficult is not something that should be overly encouraged.

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