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Sites can be exceptionally good at doing certain things that we like sites to do, such as retaining new users and providing answers to questions that get at least a few up votes quickly. It would be nice if we could recognize this sort of community achievement as a special kind of badge that hangs on a special wall.

Prelude

A long, long time ago in the kingdom of Cogro, the king's mages were always at work coming up with new ideas. Often, these ideas were great, but remained partially thought through for centuries. The magic Trellopian carpet where these ideas rested began to tire, and an evil benevolent Jaydlesberwocky seized the opportunity to kidnap the ideas with the help of an Abbygale and banish them to a magical cave of wonders, where the only hope of escape was for the mages to actually finish them.

This came out of the cave of wonders (yes, that's an actual Trello board, full of one-winged, thirty-two-fingered faeries (seriously, it looks like Sid's room)) once I came up with some additional implementation criteria, however it's far from being fleshed out sufficiently to be formally proposed. It needs more thinking, badge ideas, caveats, gaming and abuse cases, etc. I like this idea, I don't have enough time to continue developing it, but I'm far enough along that maybe all of you can pick it up.

Here's what I've got:

Sites earn badges for consistently doing awesome things. A special badges-like page is created to hold these community achievement badges, and we find ways to showcase these more in our main list of sites, area 51, etc. In practice, we'd probably have badges that were awarded quarterly and semi-annually, as that would cover the two time frames where consistency in something would be monitored and meaningful.

People that were heavily involved in helping to earn the site badges could get individual badges for it, but that's not the main intent of the idea.

Badges I've come up with so far are:

  • Speedy Gonzales (silver) - New questions receive at least one up-voted answer within n minutes on average during a quarter.
  • Happy Place (gold) - N percent of new 1 rep users become 500 rep users within a quarter
  • Neighborhood Watch (silver/gold) - N percent of all flags from human users are validated as helpful over a quarter/6 month term respectively. Need a name for both.

These of course cold both have silver / gold implementations as well. They should be difficult enough that a concerted, sustained effort would be needed to get them, but not too difficult to earn. They could also be earned multiple times, and we'd show the time frame next to each indicating the period where they applied.

Stuff we want to look for revolves around fulfilling our goal of providing fast, peer-reviewed answers to questions quickly, and user engagement / retention.

Here's what it still needs

  • The whole how / where we display these
  • Do we also recognize individual contributors that played heavy roles in earning them for everyone? How does that work?
  • What do these badges look like? What makes them different? Should we mint them with different metals, buy truck loads of gem stones, or what?
  • Do you see aspects where gaming the system might be a problem? How can we make that less of a problem?
  • We need more badge ideas at both the silver/gold (or ruby/diamond) level, in particular, badges that have a counterpart in both.

So, mages - have at it. This is your idea now :) Get it ironed out, refined and as uncomplicated as you can, and we'll see what comes of it. Help me rescue the one idea I've got trapped in the cave of wonders that's actually worth rescuing (it's a bit of a strange place).

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Hmm. I quite like this idea. It expands the gamification to the sites themselves, giving users a reason to make the community a bit better. Now, I fear that a few of these badges (notably Speedy Gonzales as defined) may lead to a bunch of questions being inappropriately upvoted. –  Makoto Feb 23 at 2:30
    
@Makoto It would only apply to up-voted answers, not questions. It might cause a few answers to get up-voted that might not otherwise, but they'd generally be down voted as well, if they were sub optimal. I'm not too worried about that one being gamed, because it'd be really hard to maintain a sustained effort to game it over a quarter or two. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:34
    
The thing about this is that any such tag should only be added if we're completely sure that the site doesn't suffer from the gamification. The last thing we want is to make the site appear in good shape because of badges, but actually be rotting on the inside. –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:38
    
@DennisMeng Engagement is pretty hard to fake, we can see very easily how long new users stick around and at what point they lose interest. We've also recently deployed an extensive testing system that helps us ensure these are being awarded correctly. I'm not as much concerned about the badges being earned erroneously, but more about limiting disruptions that the gaming behavior sometimes causes. During Winter Bash, there's usually one or two incidents of people being obnoxious in effort to get a certain hat, but it's minimal. This would need to be the same. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:44
    
I guess then the question is, would you have been okay if something like Winter Bash was year-round? Since that seems to be the analogy here. –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:48
    
@DennisMeng On a smaller scale, yes. These will be novel at first and sites will obviously work to try and earn them (that's the point), but as a bit of time passes, I don't think they'll cause people to behave much differently, but hopefully just motivate them to keep contributing as they normally do (just a bit more). –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:52
    
Note, I re-tagged this as discussion, since this is not a baked idea, but designed to see if one could emerge that would be a suitable feature request. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:54
    
What if we had the badges be passed around and impermanent, so each site could compete for owning a badge for as long as possible, before it is given to a site that surpasses it in a category? –  Blue Ice Feb 23 at 3:15
    
How about a Jonestown badge for the site with the most Peer Pressure badges? –  jonsca Feb 23 at 3:45
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3 Answers 3

Some more badge ideas:

  • Clean Slate (silver/gold) - Review queues are cleared within n minutes on average [or, are all empty at least n percent of the time]
  • This Place is Hopping (silver/gold) - Increased average question/day count by n percent quarter over quarter (perhaps require upvoted questions only)
  • Question total badges for certain total question counts - say, 100k is silve, 250k is gold (arbitrary - could pick other amounts). Preferably choose numbers that are above beta levels.
  • Badges for having a question, and separately an answer, over n total score - silver 100, gold 250 perhaps? These can be repeatedly earned.
  • Similarly, badges for question with over n total views - silver 20k gold 50k perhaps? Repeatedly earned.
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I like Clean Slate if we manage to do something about that enormous backlog on Stack Overflow, but that's the only place (currently) where it's a problem. Also like the criteria in the second This Place Is Hopping badge, but does a shorter name exist for it? –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:31
    
I dont think there should be badges based on absolute or total numbers, as then, the biggest sites will most likely have a huge advantage. –  AsheeshR Feb 23 at 2:35
    
Yeah, @AsheeshR is right there, ideally these community achievements remain a level playing field. In cases where it would be easier for sites at a certain scale to earn them, we should probably go with making them easier for newer sites (that have less things to review, etc). –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:37
    
Busy Place? Or, something growing-related, perhaps plant-related, like Green Thumb? –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:38
    
I don't agree that total numbers are bad. Most badges perhaps should be rate or percent based; but having set targets is not a bad thing. I mean, is it fair to me that Jon Skeet has way more badges than me? Of course it is. Sure, SO would get all of these instantly (probably all of S[OFU] would), but for the smaller sites, having a fixed target to aim for can be helpful, just like having the 3k, 5k, 10k, 20k targets for reputation is nice. –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:40
    
The badge for total question count doesn't sound like a good idea just by itself; a site could potentially earn that even if it had a ton of bad questions simply because the people can't close/delete them fast enough. If we want something like that, there probably should be some sort of score minimum (and/or discounting closed/on-hold questions) –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:42
    
@Joe If badges are reduced to steps of 2k, 5k, 10k, then we might as well make these site metrics on A51, rather than call them badges. –  AsheeshR Feb 23 at 2:43
    
Certainly excluding on hold questions. I imagine 'total questions of 1+ score' perhaps might work better for @DennisMeng's concerns. –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:43
    
@AsheeshR I am not sure I understand - are you confusing my comment comparing regular-site-reputation with the badge suggestion? I didn't mean those numbers by any means, I just meant that it was nice to have things to shoot for. –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:45
    
@Joe I am saying that having incremental absolute numbers for badges does not make sense. These might as well be converted to site metrics, rather than be called community badges. Badges should, IMO, motivate and encourage aspects that are important but not usually in focus. –  AsheeshR Feb 23 at 2:49
    
Then what are the review badges, the editor badges, etc. for users? –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:50
    
There's a difference between absolutes over time and absolutes over a specific time period though. –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:51
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What about:

Focused Questions - less than n percent of questions are closed every quarter

Fast Learner - n percent of questions are marked as answered after x time period every quarter

Dedicated Moderators - n percent of moderators show up every day and help out.

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With the "Focused Questions" one though, we want to make sure that questions that should be closed are still closed, and not kept open for the sake of that badge. –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:43
    
Agreed. Can you think of a better way to make that site-badge without having that issue? –  Blue Ice Feb 23 at 2:45
    
Yeah, I don't think Focused Questions is a good idea - it could as easily mean that a site isn't doing its job closing questions. –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:45
    
That said, Fast Learner is a very good idea. –  Joe Feb 23 at 2:46
    
Thanks! Do you have any other ideas on how to promote more on topic questions in a badge? –  Blue Ice Feb 23 at 2:47
    
Questions that are up-voted, with several up-voted answers and not closed after a fair share of views do tend to be decent questions, with the occasional sensational bomb mixed in. I think the first idea might be something we could work with. The second one - ehhh ... I worry about people badgering users to accept, which is something we just finally got most folks to stop. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:47
    
@BlueIce Other than educating users on what is and isn't on topic, not really. It's already something that's been somewhat difficult. –  Dennis Meng Feb 23 at 2:49
    
@DennisMeng If you add additional criteria around it, that becomes less of a concern. Remember, we've got other things that say 'good question' like the number of up-voted answers, people that favorite it, views it received, links to it, etc. The problem is, communities don't have much control over what people come and ask and on larger sites, this might be more luck than achievement. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:50
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Do we also recognize individual contributors that played heavy roles in earning them for everyone? How does that work?

How about adding a certain tint to the user cards of such users? More numbers on the user card certainly don't make sense. A user having participated in the gold level of any community badge could have a golden tinted user card within the site. Similar for other levels.

Do you see aspects where gaming the system might be a problem? How can we make that less of a problem?

The system is gamed rarely by more than a small number of members. If the badge conditions are made sufficiently broad and with sufficient minimum levels to be achieved in terms of the number of community members participating, gaming could be prevented.

Another thing would be to revoke badges more frequently when instances of bad faith gaming surface. As there are a limited of communities, such issues should be feasible to sort out.

We need more badge ideas at both the silver/gold (or ruby/diamond) level, in particular, badges that have a counterpart in both.

Squeaky Clean

A site not letting any spam or offensive posts stay online for more than n hours after being posted, measured over a period of m weeks.

Ameliorated

This could be a measure of the percentage of closed posts getting improved and reopened i.e. a community consistently editing and reopening 5% of its closed posts.

Martinets

A measure of the moderation actions (close, reopen, edits and flags) being performed within a community. This could be in terms of per user actions i.e. (number of total moderation actions / number of users who performed them) > 20 actions/day. This will exclude the members of the community who do not participate in moderation activities.

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Not really an achievement, but just luck. Additionally, no site (not even month old betas) would be able to earn this. A criteria of spam being dealt with quickly would be something to consider, though. –  Tim Post Feb 23 at 2:57
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