- What are badges?
- How do users get badges?
- How can users get tag specialist badges?
- What can cause a badge to be lost/revoked/taken away after it is awarded?
- How can I suggest a new badge?
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What are badges?
Badges are awarded to users in recognition of their contributions to the community. There are many ways to contribute, and consequently, there are many badges.
There are three ranks of badges. Bronze badges are relatively easy to get, and often help teach users how to use the system. Silver badges are more difficult to earn, and can be gained for things like posting extremely insightful questions and answers, as well as a dedication to moderation and improvement of site content. Gold badges are the most difficult to earn, and generally signify outstanding dedication or achievement.
All of the badges that a user has earned are displayed on his/her profile. Also, each user's user card shows the number of badges the user has earned, broken down by rank.
Most badges a user can earn don't have any effect on site functionality; they are simply signs of accomplishment and bragging rights. A user's abilities are governed not by his/her badges, but by his/her reputation points.
How do users get badges?
Users get badges by participating on the site. The badges page summarizes what is specifically needed to gain each badge. When a user meets the criteria for a badge, an automated background process adds the badge to the user's account.
Some badges can be earned more than once. If a user earns such a badge more than once, his/her name will appear on that badge's page once for each time he/she earned the badge. The badges listing on the user page will also display a multiplier next to the badge indicating the number of times it has been earned.
In some cases badges gained or lost may not show up immediately, but it will instead be awarded the next time the system recalculates badges, which occurs periodically.
How can users get tag specialist badges?
These are awarded when you achieve a specific number of upvotes for questions with a particular tag. There are three levels: bronze requires 100 upvotes, silver requires 400 upvotes and gold requires 1,000 upvotes. Only non-community-wiki answers are considered.
For example, if you get 400 upvotes for questions tagged with "java", you'll get a "java" silver badge. Earn another 600 upvotes for a shiny gold badge!
You can check your progress on the Stack Exchange Data Explorer.
What can cause a badge to be lost/revoked/taken away after it is awarded?
The Stack Exchange administration has stated repeatedly that "regular" badges never go away unless they were obtained by heinous cheating. Behavior that qualifies as "heinous" is defined by devs on a case-by-case basis, but here are some guidelines:
Tag badges, on the other hand, disappear immediately if you ever cease to meet their criteria, which could happen through deletion or downvotes.
Regular badges, however, once earned, are yours to keep. Even if the criteria by which you earned a badge have changed (the post was deleted, you got downvoted, etc.) you get to keep your badge. If you qualify for the same badge again (another post earns you a post-related badge, for example), you won't be penalized either (source).
How can I suggest a new badge?
Search to make sure it hasn't already been suggested, and then post it as a new question tagged badge-request. However, keep in mind that badges are meant to reward positive behavior. Just requesting a new badge for the sake of having a new badge will likely result in heavy downvotes. Make sure your badge request has meaning - explain exactly how the badge should work, the positive behavior it would encourage, and why that behavior isn't already encouraged by other badges.