Meta sites across the SE network — just meta sites, not regular ones — should start awarding a badge for any post that meets both of the following criteria:

  • earns fifteen or more upvotes
  • earns fifteen or more downvotes

These criteria indicate problematic posts on normal SE sites, where votes are cast based on post quality. On Meta sites, though, votes indicate level of agreement, and such posts are generally suggestions that people are conflicted on. In practice, they tend to lead to good, insightful explanations of how the sites work or why certain changes should/shouldn't be made. To back this up, I ran a SEDE query1 to find questions that meet the criteria on SO and on MSO.

Open issues: I found that setting the criteria at five upvotes/five downvotes let too many poor posts through, but 15/15 might be too restrictive; we'll have to do some tweaking on the exact numbers to use. I'm also not sure whether we should limit this to questions or make it available for answers as well.

Obligatory suggestions for name and grade: "Controversial"2 or "Insightful"; silver.

EDIT to reply to comments/answers:

The "false positives" problem that Cody mentioned is a real one. I attempted to address it by raising the criteria to 15 votes each way instead of five, but there certainly could be better metrics... a minimum of one massively upvoted answer, perhaps? I'm confident that we can find something with a decent signal-to-noise ratio with some trial and error.

The name of the badge definitely needs work. As dmckee said, we shouldn't be giving the impression that we're actively encouraging controversy. "Controversial" is merely an objective description for posts that correlate with (if not cause) insightfulness, and insightfulness is the real goal.

With that in mind, "Insightful" might be the superior name. More likely, there's some third, even better term out there that I haven't thought of yet. Lance described target posts as thought-provoking, so how about "Provocative" or "Intriguing"?

1: I was unable to generate the query myself; it was [contributed by Andriy M](https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6986461/how-can-i-use-two-sede-sql-queries-as-the-inputs-for-a-third-query/6988200#6988200). 2: While asking this question, I discovered that there have been two requests for controversy badges before. One was [for Area 51](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/52185/can-we-have-a-badge-for-controversy-on-area51) and the other was [for regular sites](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34543/can-we-have-a-badge-for-controversy).
  • 1
    +1 I was thinking about this just a couple hours ago. You read my mind! Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 19:46
  • 3
    Maybe also add something which says "at most X times as much upvotes as downvotes (and vice versa)", to avoid including things like 77:7 (or 102:22). X = 3 or 5 could be a good guess. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 20:13
  • Perhaps a moderator tag, auto-added to the controversial questions as well -- orange in color?
    – M. Tibbits
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 20:20
  • As for now, there are 10 posts that qualify: Most controversial posts on the site.
    – NGLN
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 20:51
  • And 5 candidates... ;)
    – NGLN
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 20:57
  • This is definitely the best badge idea yet :) Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 22:21
  • 1
    awesome badge there cacha ... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/37493/… ... wait a moment ... did I just delete that
    – waffles
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 1:48
  • This is the best badge-request post that I've ever seen, but I'm still not sure if it's a good idea. There are too many cases where questions are controversial, but still not any good. Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 4:46
  • @waffles, that's cold, considering what the highest-scoring answer is. Er, was.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 10, 2011 at 20:20
  • 1
    I downvoted this to get you closer to getting the badge once it's approved.
    – JNK
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 14:54
  • @PopularDemand what's happening with this??
    – user310756
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 15:55
  • 1
    @Yve as far as I can tell, nothing. Unfortunately, I have no more information than you do.
    – Pops
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


While dealing with controversy is an important task for the metas, I'm not sure that we are served by encouraging people to try to generate controversy.

  • 8
    Maybe I'm underestimating things, but I think it's pretty hard to create controversy as defined by @Popular. I expect most frivolous attempts to do so will encounter a "meh" vote - either a lot of downvotes, or simply no voting activity at all
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 22:14

Controversy, as long as it stays friendly is always good, because it makes people think about what's being said. So a post that generates controversy is one that has really made people think about the issue. Certainly, one of the things I like about Stack Overflow and Meta is that I see a lot that makes me think.

Making people think should be rewarded.

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