I've read all the past discussions on the generalist badge and I'm a little surprised by the complaints that have been leveled. It seems as though people were expecting it to be some sort of "affirmative action" badge, literally a reward for participating in "minority tags". But I honestly don't see anything in the previous discussions implying that. There may have been some people who asked for it to work that way, but it was certainly never agreed upon.
You need upvotes on many tags, yes, which means you can't get it by being active in only the most popular tags, but if you're not active in somewhat popular tags then your knowledge isn't really general, it's just a combination of specialized and obscure.
Consider the General Practitioner. The family doctor. Textbook definition of a generalist. Doesn't really have any in-depth knowledge of any specific medical field, but has to know something about all of the following:
- Preventative care
- Clinical medicine
- Emergency care
Again, the GP doesn't know that much about these things. He can't perform surgery. He can't prescribe any drug he wants. He's not qualified to deal with conditions like autism or Alzheimer's. He's like first-level support for the specialists, you go to him with colds and flu and strep throat and broken legs and all that other banal stuff that specialists don't typically deal with directly.
But the things that a GP is trained in are the most common ailments and treatments. You don't see a GP with a cursory knowledge of genetics, brain surgery, oncology, radiology and dermatology. That would be - no offense - not very useful. The likelihood that this "generalist" would actually be able to help a random patient that walks in is vanishingly small, because he doesn't know enough about the specialized fields to help the specialized patients and doesn't even know how to deal with the simple "my leg hurts" crap that comprises 90% of what actually comes in.
If we're going to talk about a technology generalist, to actually label it and give a special badge for it, then it ought to mean something, it ought to be along the same lines. A generalist is someone who is very likely to have an answer for the most common problems, but may have to refer you to a specialist if your particular problem is unusual.
It's really great that you know a little bit about Modula-3, GW BASIC, COBOL, SNOBOL, MooTools, MUMPS, FORTRAN, 68000 Assembler and Verilog. Seriously, sincerely, I respect you a great deal for that. But it still qualifies you to deal with about 0.1% of your potential patients, and for that reason, I really wouldn't call you a generalist. A dabbler, maybe; a tinkerer or even an academic, but not a generalist. You aren't out there solving general problems, just a high number of obscure ones.
Please, just let it go. Every time a new badge comes out, there's an avalanche of complaints that it's too hard to get. That's the point. If a badge were easy enough to achieve such that 5000 users would receive it immediately after its introduction, then it wouldn't have much meaning.
If you want it, now's your chance to start expanding your horizons. Try putting together a quick little iPhone or Android app. Try throwing together a really basic PHP forum. If you've never done web development, then start; it's important, and you must want to know what all the fuss is about with jQuery. Or you might even, God forbid, download a copy of Visual Studio Express and learn enough about it to answer a tiny handful of questions. It won't take over your computer and start assimilating all your other software, I promise.
But don't say that the rules aren't fair. You need 300 total upvotes. It's not that difficult a badge to get, if you work at it.