User asking to remove upvote so he would get the “Unsung Hero” badge

I got this unusual request today after up-voting someone's answer in a sportsmanship spirit.

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If you were the one who gave me the vote, would you do me a favor .. I am looking after the "Unsung Hero" badge .. Would you remove the vote for the moment. [...]

I acknowledged his request, mainly because I ran for this badge and I know the feeling when one of your 0-vote accepted answers gets up-voted, but I'm not sure I did the right thing. It feels like it's going against the spirit of that badge.

What should I do in this case?

P.S. I hope no one would do a run on that guy's profile and randomly up-vote some of his 0-vote accepted answers; that's not nice.

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Well, someone already upvoted it anyway ♪ –  Grace Note Jun 1 '11 at 14:31
That ♪ is so darn ambigous! Did he do the voting, or just observe that someone else did? So hard to tell! –  Pëkka Jun 1 '11 at 14:39
As if we needed more justification that this badge is worthless. What positive behavior does it encourage, again? –  Cody Gray Jun 1 '11 at 14:42
@Cody: it encourages people who work in low-vote-volume areas/tags to continue on. Sort of an alternate way to satisfy the reward pathway that getting rep usually takes care of. That's the idea, anyways. –  Pops Jun 1 '11 at 14:50
@Popular: So definitely not applicable in the C# and ASP.NET tags... And I still can't help but think of it as quite similar to that "Honorable Mention" award I won at a science fair one time in grade school. "You didn't win, but everyone has to go home with something." –  Cody Gray Jun 1 '11 at 14:52
@Cody, as far as I know, that's right, although I have no direct personal experience with either [c#] or [asp.net]. –  Pops Jun 1 '11 at 14:53
@Cody The [asp.net] tag is full of weirdly phased questions and ask-and-run questions that rarely get feedback. Having those answers accepted is an event in itself and (I guess) many user disregard those questions for that reason. –  DavRob60 Jun 1 '11 at 15:05
@meta: That's in no way unique to the [asp.net] tag. Spent much time browsing the Android or iPhone questions? Talk about "weirdly-phrased"... –  Cody Gray Jun 1 '11 at 15:07
@Cody Ours questions are weirder in a wicker way that Yours :P. I'm not saying that something specific for the [asp.net] tag, it's just a case where this badge encourage a positive behavior on a high volume area. –  DavRob60 Jun 1 '11 at 15:13
@CodyGray: I seem to recall commenting on the SO blog about the Law of Unintended consequences, although I believe it was about the "spam" badges (Announcer, Booster, Publicist). –  Powerlord Jun 1 '11 at 16:19
@Cody Never underestimate the power of a gold star. –  Michael Todd Jun 1 '11 at 16:58
Personally I'd rather have a single "Great Answer" to a single "Unsung Hero" badge, but maybe that's just me. –  Brad Christie Jun 1 '11 at 19:53
@meta.DavRob60: I guess so, but I also don't have any gold badges. Can I get a gold badge for not hunting gold badges? :) –  user7116 Jun 2 '11 at 14:08
@sixlettervariables No, but you get a free up-vote. :) –  DavRob60 Jun 2 '11 at 14:12
I can verify it's possible to get UH by hanging around the [c#] tag, although I think a little of mine came from [regex]. I'm not really sure if that's a good thing or not; I guess my answers solved the problems but weren't good enough to impress. I've become a better answerer since then, and my accepted questions seem to usually get at least one vote. I'd rather have that than the badge. –  Justin Morgan Jun 3 '11 at 14:21

What should I do in this case?

Do nothing. Quite simply, if you voted the answer up because you thought it was a good answer on its own merits, then you should not remove the vote. Choosing to do so subverts the entire purpose of the voting mechanism on the site: that is, to identify the useful, accurate, and worthwhile answers.

I'm not sure what positive behavior that the "Unsung Hero" badge is supposed to be rewarding, but regardless of what it is, earning the badge like this seems disingenuous at best. I wouldn't encourage anyone to be a part of facilitating that, no matter how nicely you were asked.

Beyond that, it's far more useful to earn +10 reputation as recognition for one's helpful answers than it is to accumulate badges. At least accumulating reputation unlocks privileges and helps to indicate to other users how knowledgeable you are about the subject matter in general and this site in particular.

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As someone who got the unsung hero badge, it was nice to know that when I toiled away (hard!) at some answers that were never upvoted but were accepted, perhaps by question askers who couldn't yet upvote or who went through check-marking things to improve accept rates but don't upvote, it meant something. It encouraged me that even though upvotes sometimes feel random (why is every answer I give in the perl tag upvoted so much more than in any other tag?), I was doing right by answering in low-vote tags. –  justkt Jun 1 '11 at 18:34
perhaps you are right, I'll let others be the judge of the quality of my answers. I would have preferred not to receive the unsung hero badge as well (I actually felt kind of sad when I first got it), but I still hope some of my 0-upvote accepted answers actually helped the OP. –  justkt Jun 2 '11 at 12:39
I would rather think that having "any answer" which is of a high enough quality to accept is better than NO answers at all. Lots of folks look for questions to answer and if it already HAS an answer might not even look/upvote an accepted answer. As for me I look and read to learn stuff. –  Mark Schultheiss Jun 2 '11 at 19:22

How about No?

He should be darn happy not to receive that badge, because that means that his contribution is valued, appreciated and of good quality.

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Asking users not to up-vote an answer to get the "Unsung Hero" badge sounds like asking the users not to vote, comment, or view a question if a week is not passed, to get the "Tumbleweed" badge.

I think that the decision of voting a question/answer should not be influenced from what somebody else wants. If a user thinks an answer/question is worth a vote, then he would be free to vote it.

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Heh, from now on I'm going to start all my question titles on sites where I don't have Tumbleweed with "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL $curDate +$oneWeek" –  Pops Jun 2 '11 at 14:19
If I take the time to ask a question, I would like an answer rather than have it Tumbleweed - which I view as a perhaps bad question or badly phrased question title. –  Mark Schultheiss Jun 2 '11 at 19:26

Really, who cares? If it makes you feel good to do the guy a favour, do it. If it makes you feel good to sacrifice his wishes to the greater good of the site, don't do it.

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As much as I generally subscribe to "if it feels good, do it", he's asking what the community thinks is the right answer –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 2 '11 at 14:08