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In one of my game designer moments, it occurred to me that a feature that would be a lot of fun on StackOverflow/StackExchange sites would be allowing users to choose a "title" for themselves based on their badges. The way this would work would be:

  1. The user could select up to three of their badges on a given site to build their title out of.
  2. The user could select the order the badge names appeared in within the title.
  3. The resulting title would appear with the user's identifying information. For example, ID blocks with titles might look like:

Modified SE ID block with title: chaos Modified SE ID block with title: Jon Skeet

This serves the purpose of giving users an achievement-based way of customizing their appearance on the site, which people always love, and of increasing the value of badges by giving them additional utility. I would also give SE flair considerably more personal style. (One potential use for the functionality, from an answer, is to use titles only in flair.)

Badge names which do not seem to lend themselves well to title formation, like "Nice Answer", could be addressed in a number of ways:

  1. Ignoring the issue; if people want to construct a title that doesn't make sense, let them.
  2. Some badges could have an alternate appearance for title purposes, such as "Revival" becoming "Revivalist".
  3. Some badges could be excluded from title usage.
  4. Users could be given the ability to specify commas between the elements of their titles, allowing formations like "Nice Answer, Tumbleweed". (This option is near and dear to my heart because it tends to produce results that sound like the names of ships from Iain Banks's Culture sequence.)

If you have suggestions for enhancements to the concept, please post them as answers so they can be voted on.

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But anyone can simply add that same "title" after their screen name, no? – Bart Kiers Feb 15 '11 at 20:45
@Bart Kiers: In some sense, but it's not the same at all as having the title capability as a site builtin. Especially socially. – chaos Feb 15 '11 at 20:48
How would tag badges be handled? – James McNellis Feb 16 '11 at 1:42
@James McNellis: Like any other badge. So Jon could be a Legendary c# Guru if he liked. – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 1:45
@James McNellis: The reason I wouldn't do that is that one of the most interesting parts of the exercise is seeing what you can do with the limited set of "puzzle pieces" provided by your badges. Constraints spur creativity. – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 1:50
Another way to handle nonsense titles would be to specify adjectives and nouns in titles. So you could have Legendary Epic Generalist but not Generalist Legendary Epic or Guru Generalist Nice Answerer, or better yet, make them based on the position, so you could have Reviving Legendary Autobiographer or Reviving Autobiographic Legend. – Ullallulloo Feb 16 '11 at 2:09
@chaos I'm flattered that you believe my comment is meant to have some relevant impact on the discussion. I've removed it so no further confusion results. – Adam Davis Feb 16 '11 at 2:13
+1 because the method of name generation, -1 because it's not really nessesary – Mark Henderson Feb 16 '11 at 5:06
@Farseeker: Good God, we only do things that are necessary now? What sort of excuse for existence is that? – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 8:05
@Ullallulloo: You should post that as an answer. :) – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 9:47
I'm pretty sure that, if such a system existed, Jon Skeet's title would be "Jon Skeet". – Borror0 Feb 16 '11 at 9:53
Talkative Necromancer... hmmm – Benjol Feb 16 '11 at 10:02
@Benjol: You know you want it. – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 10:03
So this question now has two votes to close as "noise or pointless", and it just boggles my mind: how enormous of a douchebag do you have to be to use the close button in such total bad faith? Though it seems likely that one of them was Rich B during his brief window out from under the banhammer today, so that kind of answers that question. But what in the world was the other person thinking? – chaos Feb 16 '11 at 10:33
@Chaos - the people on the SO team are very good at adding features that are value-add, and I just don't see how this adds value to their primary goal, which is to "make the internet a better place". That said, I wasn't one of the people who voted to close. – Mark Henderson Feb 16 '11 at 20:35

I'm opposed to adding this to the site because it adds information that has no value, something that goes against the core principles of how these sites work.

Also, this would change the overall tone on the site in a way I think isn't appropriate, at least not for SO. I much prefer the present cool "it's about the content, not the user" professionalism - remember, professionals are the life blood of every site in the network. Also, there is ample space on the user profile to express oneself.

However, I see nothing speaking against doing this (or the general possibility to show off some gold badges) in one's own flair as an optional extra.

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Maybe just having a free-form title field would also mean certain persons wouldn't feel the need to change their user names all the time. We could thus avoid rendering comment threads incomprehensible for mere mortals who are not learned in the ways of the BOG.

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Are you saying there is a possiblity to see former user names, or are you saying that for me as a mere mortal there is none? – Hendrik Vogt Feb 16 '11 at 14:59
Well, if you have a comment thread where someone addresses @TonyThePony, but you see no TonyThePony commenting, it's a fair guess that someone in there has changed there name in between times... – Benjol Feb 17 '11 at 5:35

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