Alternately titled: Stack Overflow isn't the only site with Generalists!

The Generalist Badge's requirement that all qualifying tags need 200 questions means that, in practice, the badge is impossible on any non-trilogy site. Even the breakaway star of SE 2.0, Gaming, doesn't have enough 200 question tags for this to be possible. It appears the only sites where this badge is even possible are the top 8 sites on SE sorted by questions. That excludes another 77 SE sites and a couple dozen non-beta sites.

The badge is already extremely difficult, it really doesn't need a requirement based on site size rather than individual effort. Badges are supposed to encourage good user behavior; I don't see how this restriction enforces good user behavior in any way; it's an arbitrary punishment for existing on a smaller site.

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    – yannis
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:19
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    @YannisRizos still, why are only users the largest sites deserving of this badge? What possible value is there in this restriction?
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:21
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    Restriction? No one is restricting a site from growing... There was a time when Generalist was impossible on Programmers, now even I have it. Anyways, badges are silly, I don't see any point in tweaking their criteria per site, they are simply not that important.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:29
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    It could be argued that having the Generalist badge awarded is a milestone in a site's growth. It shows it's broad and deep.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:32
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    @ChrisF that's cute for the site. Annoying for the people actively participating. Why are we mixing site stats with user accomplishments?
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:35
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    So, what happens when the site grows? Do we set the threshold back to 200? Or are you proposing a ratio based on total questions? And do people getting the badge with a lower threshold today deserve it as much as people earning it with a higher threshold tomorrow?
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 20:46
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    Are the N instance of "Won't someone please define how to get the Generalist badge?" questions on meta still findable? We went for circa two years without it on Stack Overflow. Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 21:02
  • I completely agree. There are lots of sites -graduated and beta- that have been around for many years that still do not have 40 tags with 200+ questions. Take Board and Card games for example, it's 9+ years and only 7 tags with 200+ questions, Homebrewing also 9+ years and 10 tags with 200+ questions, Martial Arts 7+ years and not a single tag with 200+. IMHO the threshold should be lowered to 100 questions per tag for all sites. BTW the 100-questions threshold is also used for tag badges, so why not here?
    – THelper
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 12:33
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    Yay? Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 14:03

3 Answers 3


The description for the Generalist badge doesn't mention the 200 questions per top tag requirement, so I'll just copy the description from the list of all badges with full descriptions so everyone knows what we are talking about:


  • silver; awarded once
  • Earn a tag score of 15 on one of the top 40 tags
  • Repeat the above step until any 20 of the top 40 tags are covered
  • Only awarded to anyone after each of the 40 top tags has at least 200 questions

Having earned the badge on Programmers, let me start by saying it's one of the most satisfying badges there are, I really do get where you are coming from. But adjusting its criteria per site doesn't make much sense:

  • When I get the badge on a different site, I want it to be for exactly the same reasons as on Programmers.
  • A smaller graduate site can only grow, it's only a matter of time. There is no restriction here, Generalist will be attainable on all sites eventually.
  • If we lower the question threshold on a site, and people start earning the badge, what happens when the site grows? If we restore the threshold, then Generalists on the same site will have earned the badge under different criteria and if we don't restore it, then the badge will be easier to get even when the site grows as much as the top eight sites. Unfair, either way.

And in the end, does it really matter? It's just a badge, always cool when you get one, but not really something you should waste any time thinking about. Arbitrary punishment? Meh, almost every noteworthy badge is more difficult to get on a smaller site, and will naturally get easier over time. Generalist's inherent difficulty may be annoying, but can also serve as a milestone in a site's growth, as @ChrisF mentioned.

I vaguely remember looking at the list of badges when I was a noob on SO, and I can see how it can be a bit frustrating to see a badge there that can't be earned for a while. It might make some sense to remove the badge from the list until it's actually attainable, or add the 200 questions per tag requirement in it's description.

Or do nothing at all, it's just a silly badge.

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    "Or do nothing at all, it's just a silly badge." This. There is no guarantee made that all the badges are actually earnable by every user. Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 0:25
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    “If we lower the question threshold on a site, and people start earning the badge, what happens when the site grows? […] if we don't restore it, then the badge will be easier to get even when the site grows as much as the top eight sites. […]” – Why would you adapt a threshold, which essentially measures the size of the size, to the size of the site? The proposal is plainly to lower the threshold globally and forever. This won’t make the badge easier to acquire when the site has grown and will change nothing on sites which have passed this threshold for good.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 12:39

Generalist, as currently implemented, is way out of whack for a silver badge on all but the largest sites. If badges are meant to motivate user behavior, this one isn't working on most of our sites. But we don't want to take something away from those who have managed to earn this.

Proposal: promote Generalist to gold, and create a new "Jack of All Trades" (needs a better name) as a silver badge. It requires 100 questions in each tag (not 200), and has a lower threshold for the number of tags (15/40? 10/40? 15/30? TBD). We should not reduce the required score per tag, however; first, it's not broken, and second, we do still want that quality threshold.

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    So, on sufficiently large sites, you would have two badges with identical requirements for an indiviudal user?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:53
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    @Wrzlprmft that's why I raised the possibility of dropping the required number of questions. But is this really so different from visiting a site for 30 days to get Enthusiast and then doing it 70 more times to get Fanatic, or getting Suffrage and Vox Populi for the same day of voting? Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:56
  • Yes it is different, because this requires the user to do more (for whatever that’s worth). What you propose, only requires the site to do more. So on sufficiently large sites, those two badges would be awarded at the same time, no matter what you do.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:59
  • @Wrzlprmft ok, I've made an edit to add changing the number of questions the person needs to gain the score in. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:04
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    Anyone have a one-word synonym for "jack of all trades" that isn't generalist? I kinda like where this idea is going.
    – user50049
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:04
  • @TimPost not one word, but what about Universal Soldier?
    – gnat
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:23
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    @Tim: Polymath. ...[A] person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:30
  • What about omniscent. (It sound more epic! :) )
    – usεr11852
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 15:25

Allow me to present a viewpoint opposite to Yannis's.

Why would it need to be adjusted per-site? The fact of the matter is, most SE sites are not Stack Overflow. 200 questions in each of the top 40 is simply unreasonable. I think that even a limit of 100 questions would make more sense.

It is currently one of the rarest silver badges, even on SO. Why can't we open it up to more people?

As for smaller sites growing, yes, they do that. It takes a long time. On Mi Yodeya, we still don't have any awarded. A complaint was actually raised about this last year.

Badges should not be site milestones. Badges should be awarded for individual behavior. While popularity badges are indeed harder to get on small sites, Generalist isn't exactly like that.

In sum (i know, it wasn't all that long in the first place), the limit should definitely be lowered or removed. Small sites deserve badges too!

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    The first Generalists were awarded on Arqade this June - almost four years after the site was created. And Arqade is ranked seventh among SE sites for traffic.
    – Troyen
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 9:19
  • @Troyen for someone to get a generalist on Arqade, they need answers in minecraft, diablo, skyrim, Starcraft, etc... Lots of games. Many have single tag questions, Compare with other sites that are more focused and thus tags are about concepts - loops, complexity, recursion, etc... The nature of tagging makes it easier to get on such sites.
    – user213963
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 15:22
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    @MichaelT Fair enough, gaming is different, but there are other "higher traffic" sites on SE that do use multiple tags but aren't eligible for Generalist. Seasoned Advice (#12) is over four years old and only has 17 tags with >200 questions. Database Admins (#11) took over three years to get theirs despite a fair amount of overlap. The amount of overlap between tags matters, but that's why this proposal is to modify the site limit to make more sites eligible.
    – Troyen
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 19:47
  • Less that one year later, Mi Yodeya has awarded 36 Generalist badges. Mazel tov! Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:24

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