I want to work towards my first gold badge on Stack Overflow and was wondering which gold badge was the most achievable.
Well, look at the list and see which one seems easiest to you.
- Fanatic: All you've got to do is visit the site for 100 days (although it's still eluded me for 2 years+)
- Marshal: Raise 500 helpful flags
- Copy Editor: Edit 500 posts
- Electorate: Vote on 600 questions, and vote on at least one question for every three answers you vote on
All of these are nothing more than being bothered to do something. Gold badges such as Great Question and Great Answer require others to upvote the post; the above mentioned don't need any of that.
The numbers next to the badges show how many times each has been awarded. I figure the more times a badge has been awarded, the easier it is to get.
For what it's worth, the first one I got was Marshal.
I think the Electorate badge is by far the easiest to earn. All you have to do is to vote on 600 questions. You have a max of 40 votes you can use in one day. So you could earn the Electorate badge in a mere 15 days.
On contrast the Fanatic badge takes 100 days to earn and takes some discipline to make sure that you visit the site every day. For me that can be difficult. I usually seem to miss a day on the weekend.
Going purely by statistics (https://stackoverflow.com/help/badges), as of March 22, 2014, 125,000 users have received the Famous Question Gold Badge. That out-ranks each of the next two most common Gold Badges, Fanatic and Great Answer, ten to 1. I'd say asking a popular, solid, new question is the best bet.
Update, 5 Years Later
To support this, now looking back at my network profile, I see that while I am neither a Science Fiction nor a Fantasy fanatic, I have made a total of 4 posts on the Science Fiction and Fantasy StackExchange site and I have 1 gold badge. What is the badge? Famous Question.
Likewise, in the Ask Different StackExchange site, I have made only 5 posts and have 1 gold badge. What is the badge? Famous Question.
Earn a gold badge in 50 days or less
Description: Raise 500 helpful flags
This is a "moderation" badge earned by helping clean up the site from questions, answers and comments that are:
- rude or offensive
- not constructive
- too chatty
- low quality
- other (textbox)
Currently, I get about 50 flags per day on Stack Overflow. The number varies based on reputation and the number of helpful flags you've raised.
How many flags do I have?
When you start out, you are allotted 10 flags per day. This number may increase to up to 100 flags per day:
- You get one bonus flag per 2000 reputation.
- You are awarded additional bonus flags when you flag correctly - one bonus flag for every ten net helpful flags (helpful flags minus declined flags).
One helpful way to use this flag is to eliminate "noise" in the comments, such as "Thank you" and "You're welcome". These comments are generally "not constructive" and "too chatty".
So, run a search for "You're welcome" in comments only. You'll get TONS of results. Flag away.
Plus, since you're searching for "You're welcome", you'll get the "Thank you" in a previous comment.
You'll exhaust your daily flag limit in minutes.
Let's say your flag limit is 30/day. You'll have your Gold Badge in less than three weeks.
Just be careful not to delete comments that contain valuable information. Often you'll see a comment with useful feedback ending with "Thank you". Deleting those may be unhelpful and inappropriate.
Read this post before flagging: https://stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/flag-posts
Here's a tool for searching comments in Stack Overflow: http://data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/edit/477136
I agree with @Linger, the Electorate is the easiest to earn; it was my first gold badge.
Let's compare it with Fanatic:
You need to visit 100 consecutive days. If you forget to visit the site on the 99th day, the counter resets to 0! Believe me, it's very frustrating :)
You need to vote on 600 questions (up or down). Since you have a limit of 40 upvotes a day, you will need at least 15 days to get it! It's a lot less than Fanatic and don't need to be consecutive.
With this query you can track your progress. Just put your UserId in the filter.
You can find your UserId in your profile URL, for example, mine is 890890: https://stackoverflow.com/users/890890/fabriciorissetto
Reviewing posts you can easily get some of the badges including gold, and some are awarded multiple times
You can review posts here based on your reputation - https://stackoverflow.com/review
I think following gold badges are easy to be earned,
- Steward (can be won multiple times by type of review you do)
- Copy editor
I feel Steward is easier than Marshal as I can review 20 posts under categories of triage, first post & late answer. So getting 1000 reviews for each categories will take 50 days to earn 3 gold badges. These categories are opened as per reputation you earn, I'm above 1000 reputations so I have access for 3 categories here.
Note: Care must be taken for reviewing mentioned in comment provided by S.L. Barth