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It's clear people vote on fun questions differently to "real" questions. Arguably this should even apply to programming-related CW questions too. This answer gets a gold Great Answer badge. Seriously? Such questions are basically polls so badges are handed out like candy. IMHO this diminishes their value greatly.

First and foremost SO is a Q&A site for programming questions, not wedding cakes and Dilbert cartoons. A certain number of fun questions should be tolerated but programming questions should be the ones rewarded.

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I also find it annoying when certain people rep farm off this type of question. None of the answers take any real knowledge and are completely subjective, yet they earn the posters hundreds to thousands of rep. –  Ian Elliott Jul 2 '09 at 0:58
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Wow, wasn't even looking at the fact that wasn't CW. Checked that guy's profile. He's earnt 804 rep from the answer to date. –  cletus Jul 2 '09 at 1:04
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The question itself is very specious and "farmy" anyway... –  bananakata Jul 2 '09 at 5:27
    
Shouldn't that have been converted to CW long time ago? And if it would happen now, is he going to lose his rep again? –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 8:44
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On another note: I thought this kind of questions/answers were almost the only way to earn those kind of gold badges... I haven't seen a lot of answers with more than 100 votes which were pure technical answers on pure technical questions! –  fretje Jul 2 '09 at 8:47
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I've wiki'd it... but even with a recalc he gets to keep existing pre-wiki vote scores. –  Marc Gravell Jul 2 '09 at 9:47
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Hm... Fact A: I'm quite new to SO. Fact B: I am sure that answering fun questions is the main way to get gold badges. Good to know it's not what was intended. –  Pavel Shved Oct 3 '09 at 12:14

10 Answers 10

up vote 15 down vote accepted

How 'bout > 30 answers triggers "no badges" mode in addition to CW? Yeah, it's possible to abuse that, but it's a huge PitA...

Actually... If you adjusted the logic to only force no-badges and CW when the undeleted answer count stayed >=30, it'd both preserve badges for the FAQ and make abuse even more difficult... (post 29 crap answers & watch 'em get flagged and deleted)

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hmm, so your argument is that Justin Standard could earn a gold badge HERE for the zillion-answer SO FAQ question, and other questions like it (just using JS as an example). That actually makes better sense. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 2 '09 at 5:01
    
Oops, forgot to copy that comment... But yeah, that works. Heh... i guess you could also solve this problem by just adding "joke", "cartoon" and "gtky" sites to your increasingly-inaccurately-named trilogy... –  Shog9 Jul 2 '09 at 5:09
    
Seems as clean a mechanism as I can see - possible that a key on views might be another way –  bananakata Jul 2 '09 at 5:25
    
@Jeff: What do you mean? I'm confused by your comment. –  Paolo Bergantino Jul 2 '09 at 5:34
    
@Shog9, do you have any problem with inaccurately named trilogies? One of my favorite trilogies had 5 books in it (and yes, Douglas Adams still called it a trilogy) –  Nathan Fellman Jul 2 '09 at 6:26
    
As long as the "five edits" didn't trigger no-badge mode for the answer as well... –  womp Jul 6 '09 at 6:54

I have never been comfortable with badges being earned from the "fun" questions, but I have never been able to come up with a way to prevent it that makes sense and doesn't create HUGE windows for abuse.

If you have any good ideas on this that can't be gamed or abused, please reply (as an answer! not as a comment!)

edit: this is effectively completed through our sister site, http://programmers.stackexchange.com. It's for softer programming issues that may or may not involve source code.

Compare FAQs, just the first few paragraphs will do:

http://programmers.stackexchange.com/faq
http://stackoverflow.com/faq

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The post linked in this question is a pefect example of when a "wiki hammer" would be useful ;-p –  Marc Gravell Jul 2 '09 at 9:48
    
wiki hammer wouldn't be that helpful, since it is not retroactive; all votes prior to the CommunityWikiDate would still be valid. You'd need a time machine, as well.. or access to the db. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 2 '09 at 12:02
    
@Marc @Jeff Jarrod did introduce a wiki hammer from the beginning of time feature, we may want to apply it to The Internet –  waffles Nov 8 '10 at 0:44

Reposting as answer

Perhaps give users ability to flag questions as something fun related. Make it a high enough rep requirement to avoid people flagging valid questions, but low enough to ensure enough respectable users will flag. If flagged as fun remove rep/badges?

You have to avoid restricting access to too few users since some of the higher up users seem to abuse this in their favor.

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I agree. I think the only reasonable method to correctly determine "fun" questions is to crowdsource it. Let 10K+ Reppers flag a question as "Not Technical" or just "Fun", and after 20 votes (yea, 20, make it a lot, not just 5) or possibly even more, it becomes "fun" and users don't earn badges from them. Allow moderators only to "unfun" questions. –  Tom Ritter Jul 2 '09 at 13:26

I say add a second level of "special tags" that only >10K users can remove. So questions can be tagged as "fun" by the OP or the community and badges can be suppressed from those posts. If the tag is added incorrectly, there's still opportunity for the more involved members to correct it - even via the flag for moderator attention.

What's nice about this solution is it would also work for meta.SO for special status flags "completed", "decline", etc. to help mimic the UV platform.

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Additionally, maybe you could earn another bagdet (like "Disciplined") by renouncing to a badget earned by a "fun" question (but AFAIK no one can reounce to a badget.. yet) –  Eliseo Ocampos Jul 2 '09 at 4:46

Wow... I'd love to earn 1500 rep off of a single answer that's two words long. That's more rep than I have total right now.

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This is sort of saying what some of you have already said...

But the mechanism for closing questions works pretty well. Questions that need to be closed get closed, and quickly. I think the users would respond quickly to identifying a question as "fun", and that could trigger the no-badge rule. I say have people vote for it, just like closing a question (although I'm not sure what the rep requirement should be for being allowed to do this... that's for you guys to decide :-)).

What's the argument for NOT turning off badges on CW posts? All the CW posts I have read are not really technical, and if they don't count toward reputation, why should they count toward earning badges?

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+1 "if they don't count toward reputation, why should they count toward earning badges" –  Paul Alexander Jul 2 '09 at 5:57
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+1... My thoughts exactly... There should not be any badges for CW questions. Straight and simple. –  Aamir Jul 2 '09 at 6:13

Just to add my 2p:

I don't tend to vote on answers to this type of question - particularly if the answer isn't CW.

If polls or fun question didn't earn rep or badges then I might.

As for implementation details: How about another check box similar to the CW one?

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I've often thought about an extra checkbox solution, but it'd be a compromise as it makes everything more complicated. :D –  Gordon Gustafson Dec 10 '09 at 23:44

Why not crowdsource it?

Here's a possible idea:

Encourage people to vote for the 'tag' on a question (up or down, for reasons you'll see in a minute)

If the votes for a particular tag ('fun', gtky, etc.) exceed a certain threshold (10? 15?), then all of the answers and the question are 'cut off' from badges.

You'd obviously need to allow your 10K users (grin) to vote to put badges in the 'this doesn't count towards badges' pile.

Possible issues with this:

Once people learned that their precious badges could be lost with people voting on tags, they may not vote. So the only badges that ought to be lost are the gold badges. The rest are relatively trivial to get.

Secondly, you'd have to reward people voting on the tagging system for questions. Voting on tags would also allow people who cannot yet vote to determine what tags may be 'innappropriate' for a question, and would get out of the tag wars that we encounter from time to time (though it mostly happens because of that damned taxonomist badge, which already suffers from too much human moderation and not enough programming moderation).

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For the most part I've seen people behaving well and making the "fun" questions Community Wiki. The only fairly game-proof solution I can see is a fairly high-level moderation function, along the lines of your "Flag Offensive" button, which is only visible to people with enough rep to close / delete questions, perhaps called "Flag Just-for-fun" or "Flag Discussion".

If I understand the offensive flag correctly, you count the number of people who flag a question or answer over time, and only the ones that achieve a certain velocity threshhold show up for your moderators to make the last call.

If the moderators agree that a question is a purely fun, subjective, or discussion question, they mark it as community wiki and all rep / badge points accrued against the question are reversed.

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Jeff says:

I have never been comfortable with badges being earned from the "fun" questions, but I have never been able to come up with a way to prevent it that makes sense and doesn't create HUGE windows for abuse.

If you have any good ideas on this that can't be gamed or abused, please reply (as an answer! not as a comment!)

Add another voting category: "vote to mark as fun". Questions so marked can't earn badges. A moderator can remove the "fun" status if the votes are truly misguided.

That seems pretty simple, so where's the hole in my logic?

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