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I wonder why the user's badge counts are displayed beside the avatar/reputation value? What was the reason behind showing the counts anyway, as to see what those actually are, the user needs to click on the name? Why aren't the badge counts shown on community-wikis then? How can I trust an answerer who has 20 badges in "Great Question"?

Please enlighten me.

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Except when the answer is "I already asked this." – akarnokd Jul 18 '09 at 19:28
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Badges are meant to be shown off. If you meet someone in a boy scout uniform, you get impressed by the number of badges that they have, even if you don't necessarily know what those badges are exactly (in real life you would have to actually -ask- the scout what the badges stood for, just like you have to go to their user page to find out what those actual badges are).

The reason behind showing the counts is just to provide a short and slightly informative view of how active/good they are on the system by showcasing the overall number of badges. You can draw your own conclusions. If a user has 800 bronze badges but only 5 silver, you may actually draw a conclusion that the user may only be partially helpful.

You can make up your own mind about what the badges mean to you when you look at them on other people.

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"boy scout" oh boy. Thank you. – akarnokd Jul 19 '09 at 7:45

Badges are just another dimension of measuring participation -- so the more badges someone has (and of which type) tells you how active they are on Stack Overflow and how many "notable" things they've accomplished.

The two usually go hand-in-hand- but not always.

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I could argue with you, but I simply accept your answer in the sense, that it was a non-obvious form of reputation - for me at least. – akarnokd Jul 18 '09 at 20:33

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