This is a mild annoyance for me. I answer SO questions inside a very specific area. The tags which I answer in the most are very low traffic, and yet I still require 100 up-votes for a bronze badge.

This is inherently unfair. To get a tag badge in a more popular tag would take far less time and effort (and indeed, less depth of knowledge about the subject matter).

I have required 124 distinct answers to amass 100 up-votes in one tag, which has taken me about 15 months. I am an expert in my subject matter but despite this I'm fairly certain I won't ever make the gold badge for that tag.

I would like to see the tag badges awarded on a sliding scale, based on how many other users have the badge (or another, perhaps better, measure of how popular the tag is). This would help incentivise subject matter experts to monitor and answer in the less popular tags.


2 Answers 2


First of all, being active on an otherwise not-so-active tag comes with some caveats.

  • You won't get as much attention for your posts
  • There will probably be less content to work on

I'm sure you are aware of these things better than me but that's what you'll get when browsing though those tags - it's something that most defiantly affect you "progress" on the site. One the other hand, being very active in an otherwise quiet niche will gain you the ability to become the "goto-guy" with regard to questions containing those tags.

With regard to your -

I would like to see the tag badges awarded on a sliding scale, based on how many other users have the badge (or another, perhaps better, measure of how popular the tag is).

It would complicate the calculations of the badges.

It makes no sense to have different criteria per badge per tag. That would make it unfair IMO.

You work within a very specific area - why should you get a badge for answering less questions and getting less upvotes?

  • Because the tag is less active?
  • Because there are not as many questions?

How does this make you more or less deserving of the badge? How would you suggest this calculation? According to the number of posts? What if there is a brand new tag with only 5 posts - would answering all of them get you a gold badge? I think you can see what I'm trying to get at.

It would not be feasible to implement different calculations - those calculations would have to change on a regular basis depending on the popularity of the tag - it would get really confusing.

Imagine that you were one upvote away from a gold tag badge in FizzBuzz - but then some poor users come along and ask 5 additional questions in that tag - would you still be eligible for your gold tag badge? I guess not if the calculation is based on the popularity...

  • Bear in mind that currently the calculation is simply = the number of up-votes in the tag. So of course any deviation from this is a complication. Also, I don't know how to implement this idea. I am asking for the input of other users. This is not about me. It is about making SO a better place. I am simply pointing out why one point in a high-traffic tag is not equivalent to one point in a low-traffic tag. And by addressing this you incentivise people to answer in the low-traffic areas more. This improves the site for everyone. This is self evident. May 3, 2012 at 7:54
  • 1
    This would be a large change that by definition would only be beneficial to a small group of people. Have you thought about it the other way around? What about v.active tags such as PHP/jQuery - how hard would it become to get the tag badges there if it was all relative?
    – Lix
    May 3, 2012 at 7:59
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    OK I concede that maybe this isn't a great idea when you look at the bigger picture. May 3, 2012 at 8:02
  • +1 for goto-guy, it's true. I receive quite an amount of emails due to my work on the opencv tag. Some of them present new business opportunities. I guess this is the only upside of being active in a not-so-active tag. My advice is, be patient, and flash that badge around your profile Bio when you get it. Feb 14, 2013 at 2:19

Do you have anything to prove that it's easier to gain tag badges in more popular tags like in the less popular? Yes, in more popular tags you can get "golden shoot" if you post a popular answer in some really interesting "basic" question, but the amount of such possible "basic, but not trivial" questions is limited and the probability of shooting one is decreasing, while the topic gets saturated.

Just take Jon Skeet. 672,381 reputation, 29,053 answers. It's about 22 reputation points per answer. It's not many. You won't say it's easy gained? Even in niche tags you can get more, if the OP upvotes and accepts your answer. And niche tags have less competition to get your answer accepted.

Yeah, the problem may be there's less questions to answer. Jon Skeet have surely easier in his C# world. But if you do say about an effort, it's not that you feel underocupated? Making gold badges easier to get in low-popularity tags will make them actually much easier to get, with all gaming potential like adding some niche tags to questions you answer only to get those shiny badges.

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