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I've made a couple suggestions for humorous and/or trivial badges, which have been met with much ire. Maybe I should have asked before posting such suggestions (and losing much repute therewith).

Are badges only to be used for serious purposes--to drive desired behaviors through rewards akin to graduates recieving honors--or is there a place for humor and eccentricity in their application?

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Please note: this is not a 'poor me, I'm being picked on' question; I simply wanted to suggest appropriate badges in the future. –  Bryan Agee Jul 1 '11 at 19:48
    

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The blog has a few entries on badges that might help explain the rationale

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/07/stack-overflow-badge-feedbac/

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/12/badges-positive-only/

Badges exist to reward and encourage the kind of positive behavior we want in our community. But not everyone seems to understand that. It’s tempting to suggest “funny” badges which reward behaviors that, if you really sat down and thought it through, are actually negative.

A tiny bit of humor is tolerated there, ala Tumbleweed, but in general it's to encourage positive community behaviors first and foremost.

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You're looking at this backwards.

  • If a badge exists, people will try to get it.
  • If getting a badge involves some action on the site, people will perform that action until they get the badge.

You can't really just say that a badge exists "for humor", unless it's completely irrelevant to how people use the site. Adding a badge will always drive some sort of behavior, whether you wanted it to or not, so you can't avoid considering the impact of that behavior.

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+1 I think you have a good point here. A main purpose of the SE network is providing serious answers to serious questions. But that doesn't mean it can't involve some humor. Funny comments, questions and funny answers can still be voted upon, even when they just being funny (there are quite a few). More recognition isn't needed / in place for a serious reference quide / wiki. –  NGLN Jul 1 '11 at 20:39

Generally they are tied to "work hard and you will be rewarded before you know it". They are intended to be a surprise and a gift, not a right.

Having said that, there are a few playful badges, such as the hacker badge (not yet awarded). Ok, that's the only one I know of, but I've been led to believe there are a few.

So, the short answer is: They are intended to be pursued only by good and fair use of the site. We may game for one every now and again, but generally you won't be able to game all of them, and as a conscientious user of the site I ask you to not try to game for any of them. Just use the site normally and eventually you'll get the ones you've earned.

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I personally think that there could be place for some partially humorous badges, or new "serious" badges which simply have funny (yet normal) names. Still, no badges should promote bad (in any way) behavior.

Actually, there already is a badge which doesn't always promote or reward hard work. Tumbleweed badge is what I mean. Sometimes it's rewarded to very good, yet very difficult and detailed questions. And sometimes it's rewarded to very poor questions, as a side effect. In both cases questions get very low attention.

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Yes, but it would be difficult to intentionally chase the Tumbleweed badge, imo. If a question is well-formed and realistic, people will jump on it, and it will be answered quickly. If the question is horrible and/or outright offensive, it will get flagged immediately. –  WEFX Jul 1 '11 at 20:04
    
@WEFX: Not all that difficult. Just come up with a non-trivial and generally-relevant question about an obscure, boring technology. If it can only be answered with a bit of research by people experienced in the subject, doesn't have any popular tags, and isn't about something trendy or inherently engaging, it's unlikely to get activity. –  McCannot Jul 1 '11 at 20:22
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This is actually a badge that's intended to be awarded for participating in the fringe areas of the site. –  jcolebrand Jul 1 '11 at 20:23

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