Background: I recently became an active user on StackOverflow and determined that it wasn't too hard to get 200 rep in a day with a reasonable amount of time. However, before I attempted to shoot my rep into the stratosphere, there was one particular thing that bothered me: Unsung Hero was the only named gold badge that I would not be able to earn just by being very active on the site. I spent my first couple of years on SO answering mostly obscure questions, so I was close to getting it. I determined that I should earn it first before going about the rest of my business, so that I could eventually have ALL the gold badges :)
A couple of days ago, I counted my (non-self) answered questions using the search function: 44 scored and 11 unscored. Based on numerous questions on MSO about what it took to earn the badge, I was faced with two actions:
- Convert 11 of my answers to community wiki, making the ratio 33:11
- Collude with someone to downvote 3 of my 1-score answers, making the ratio 41:14.
I decided to go with the first choice as it was something that I could do just by myself and more importantly, I wasn't arguably violating any community norms or rules by doing so. The second is tempting, though, as it is much more efficient (each 1 score answer becomes a 0 score) and even reversible: you just edit your answer and your partner in crime can undo their downvote after you get your badge.
Before you jump to any judgment, I want to make it clear that this is not an opportunity to lecture about "how should I go about earning badges on SO"? I'm familiar with the oft-repeated idea that one should not try to earn badges, but only gain them through normal activities. But, the choice to add gamification to SO means that some people will have incentives to take actions to earn badges or points - even if, in the case of badges, the award has no intrinsic value. (In fact, the effect of badges on SO has recently been a subject of study by Cornell professor Jon Kleinberg.) Thus, I'd just like to discuss the incentives for this particular badge.
Now, for the questions:
- Is there some other (legal) way to get this badge that I didn't think of? :)
- Are their rules for whether the second type of behavior is allowable or not?
- How can we minimize gaming of this badge? Clearly the primary intended behavior (getting zero vote answers to obscure questions) is one of the least easy ways to get the badge, so how can we fix it?
- Are the behaviors induced by this badge beneficial to the community? A first guess: perhaps making more questions CW is helpful, but the downvoting is purely gaming...
- If the behaviors are not helpful, is the Unsung Hero badge really good for incentivizing anything?
Related to the above ideas:
- Remove the 25% requirement from the "Unsung Hero" gold badge
- Was the Unsung Hero a bad idea to implement? (thanks @animuson)
P.S. I waited until I earned the badge before asking this question, to avoid any serial upvoters who wanted to ruin my day :)