I have a co-worker who is also a user of Stack Overflow. (Web programmer). Today I noticed a question on SO that I knew he'd be able to answer as we do it all the time here. I emailed him the link, he answered it off the top of his head... boom bam easy.

I then joked it was too bad SO didn't have an "assist" badge like in the NBA when one player passes the ball to another who then scores. There would need to be a mechanism to link the assist to the answer in the link... but seems trivial.

You would have to decide if its an internal or external pass/track mechanism.

I would probably lean towards an external process as it ensures that links are shared between users who know each other outside of SO. Shooting from the hip SO has the link share feature and tracks who created the link. So, if another user who accessed the question via your link answers the question that's accepted... it's an assist.

If it were an internal tracking process I could forsee 10k+ users getting bombarded by questions from those hunting the badge.

As for naming: Assist for the bronze level. "Pippen" for the silver version (famous assist man for Jordan). Finally Stockton all time NBA assist leader as the gold level.

It meets the purpose of SO badges... encourages good usage of the site and is fun.

Update Edit - it could easily lose the NBA reference while retaining the point of the badge. It was just the NBA assist stat that made me think of it.

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    Why do we have to use NBA names? What about all the people who hate basketball? -.- – animuson May 4 '12 at 19:12
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    Pippen didn't assist Jordan. He was a good second banana. – LarsTech May 4 '12 at 19:13
  • Funny... I actually am a sports fan but basketball comes in way behind MLB, NFL, and anything my kids are doing. But basketball has the most famous ASSIST stat - any other common usage of the assist would be good. – RThomas May 4 '12 at 19:14
  • How would it be managed? I mean, there's already badges for linking to the site already. – Makoto May 4 '12 at 19:14
  • If a person who used your link then answered the question. bam – RThomas May 4 '12 at 19:15
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    Completely irrelevant to the question, but I'll take this opportunity to plug Sports. – mmyers May 4 '12 at 19:19
  • Okay then. How about a bit more bite to it? Suppose then that bronze required 2 or 3 upvotes, silver required 6, and gold required 10 and an accept. – Makoto May 4 '12 at 19:22
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    Yeah, ixnay on the NBA. – user102937 May 4 '12 at 19:23
  • Nixing the NBA reference is fine... it was only the catalyst for reminding me of the stat and the seed of the idea. I do like the idea tho. – RThomas May 4 '12 at 19:25
  • @Mak still too less for a gold badge. I say 2-3,10,25 and accept for silver/gold – Manishearth May 4 '12 at 19:31
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    @LarsTech especially since Jordan had more assists with the Bulls than Pippen did – Some Helpful Commenter May 4 '12 at 19:33
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    What? A badge request that has potential? Madness! The names do need to be less "USA basketball in the 90s"-oriented, though. There are plenty of famous assistants who have worldwide recognition, predate Pippen/Stockton and will endure for longer to boot. Robin? Igor? Sancho Panza? Dr. Watson (of Sherlock Holmes)? Dr. Watson (of Watson and Crick)? – Pops May 4 '12 at 19:36
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    I like the Dr. Watson idea, but in the realm of computers, I think of that darn Microsoft bug reporting utility... – Dan Sorensen May 4 '12 at 19:50
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    I think gold should be named RThomas – RThomas May 4 '12 at 19:51
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    @DanSorensen, you're right. We should go with Clippy (silver) and Microsoft Bob (gold). – Pops May 4 '12 at 20:01

Hmm, what's better

Share a link to a that is visited by 25/300/1000 unique IP addresses


Share a link to a question that results in it getting answered

I think it's obvious which is better, but if you're undecided let's consider that I could put a link to The Definitive C++ Book Guide and List on a C++ forum and probably get a link sharing badge and yet I don't think I've actually done anything useful. Examples below

On the other hand if I shared a link to a question and that got it answered I think that has much more value.

Is there some degree of random luck involved if we use the same link-sharing mechanism? Sure but there's a lot of stuff on Stack Exchange that's like that. People should just accept that. Especially if it means that even 1% of the nearly 600,000 unanswered get answered that otherwise wouldn't.

The following are questions by which people earned the Gold Publicist Badge. Did we really need to incentivize getting views to these questions?

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    Exactly - there lies the value. well put. – RThomas May 4 '12 at 20:35
  • Also, my intent would only be an accepted answer counts. – RThomas May 4 '12 at 21:07
  • Again, you've identified the same exact thing just from a different angle. It doesn't matter if we encourage users to post links to get answers or post links to get views, the bottom line is they're posting links. That's all they're doing. Same behavior. – animuson May 4 '12 at 21:21
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    I disagree... putting the link in front of 1000 eyes who can't help vs putting it in front of one set of eyes that can are two different things. – RThomas May 4 '12 at 21:27
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    @animuson well the same argument could be said for Revival and Nice Answer. They are for the same general behavior (answering a question). Except that one is for answering old questions and one is for answering with high quality. Announcer is to drive visits. Assist would be to drive answers to questions that you don't know the answer to. – Some Helpful Commenter May 4 '12 at 21:31
  • @SomeHelpfulCommenter: Reversal is for +20 to a -5 question, which usually only happens on meta since chances are a question on a main site with -5 score will be closed and deleted. As for answering old questions vs quality answers. There is a difference. Answering old questions also requires the effort of searching and finding a question that is old enough that you can actually answer. – animuson May 4 '12 at 21:40
  • I might support this on a one-time basis, awarding a bronze badge for getting an accepted answer to a previously unanswered question from a referral link, but silver and gold badges is definitely going beyond the boundaries. – animuson May 4 '12 at 21:41
  • @animuson that's fine not everything needs to have bronze/silver/gold levels. By the way I wrote Revival not Reversal, not that it matters. – Some Helpful Commenter May 4 '12 at 21:47
  • @animuson I've updated my answer to include some questions that highlight my point that the current requirements of the Announcer type badges doesn't necessarily result in community value – Some Helpful Commenter May 4 '12 at 21:59
  • I wouldn't consider historically locked questions to be good examples. They were good questions by previous standards, and are still very helpful to a lot of people. – animuson May 4 '12 at 22:02
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    @animuson So what do you think Bill or Jeremy's strategy was? I think these questions don't get enough attention? – Some Helpful Commenter May 4 '12 at 22:13
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    Those sharing badges are VERY helpful for growing non-SO stack exchange sites, especially betas. – Ben Brocka May 7 '12 at 15:59
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    @BenBrocka That's great, and honestly I'm fine with people earning their badges however they can. I was just trying to point out that not all link sharing is the same. And this new badge could create an incentive for behavior that doesn't exist for the current set of badges. – Some Helpful Commenter May 7 '12 at 16:04
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    @SomeHelpfulCommenter "Meme-friendly" questions do have an insane success rate. I'd guess I've shared fewer than 40 links to earn the 17 Stack Overflow Publicists. However, I feel like sharing meme-friendly links to smaller sites is quite a Good Thing even if the question doesn't need a new answer (or doesn't deserve one). The site will probably benefit from the exposure even if the question is bad. So while I don't agree that generating an answer is strictly more valuable on all sites, I do agree that it is very valuable and should be encouraged. +1 – ABANDON STACK -- Jeremy Banks May 7 '12 at 20:12
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    @RThomas as I understand it when the dev team decides to take a position one of the red [status-*] tags gets applied. But you should note there are 10,000 feature requests and only about 2,000 actually have a red tag, with the smallest set being status-planned – Some Helpful Commenter May 8 '12 at 21:17

The only problem I see with this is the sprout of random Assist-related badges being awarded. If you use the existing linking system, you're already getting badges for advertising the question (and potentially answers). It then becomes a game of chance if someone who happens to visits your link (versus someone else's link) also happens to post an answer, which may happen to get accepted. Likely, it will get awarded to a lot of people who have absolutely no relation to the other user for doing something already encouraged by another badge.

There really isn't any solution to this problem. Even if you create secondary "unique" links to send to specific people, what's to stop people from just posting that link all over the place instead? Then you have to build in checks and such to make sure the link doesn't get used multiple times and you get people complaining that it didn't count because they opened it the first time and left and tried to open it again and it didn't recognize the link, blah blah blah blah blah.

Bottom line: the behavior is already encouraged, we don't really need another badge for it that looks at the same behavior from a different angle and level of light. Don't look at it as "posting links to get views." Look at it as posting links. That's what we're encouraging. What results from those link postings is not really relevant. The number of views just happens to be how we track the links you post.

  • As animuson says, there are already badges for this kind of behavior. Additionally it would be innacurate. I can see a gold badge for the following scenario: I share N links where each link results in an accepted answer. So if I share a question and you answer and I share again and he answers, that's two assists in a row. Find an acceptable threshold and that can weed out the "one-off"s. – Moshe May 4 '12 at 20:12
  • @Moshe I would recommend limiting only to accepted answers – RThomas May 4 '12 at 20:28

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