Currently, the "Strunk & White" badge and the "Archaeologist" badge have the following requirements:

  • Strunk & White: Edited 80 posts
  • Archaeologist: Edited 100 posts that were inactive for 6 months

As you can see, both of these badges are rewarded for editing posts. There are two differences between the requirements, though:

  • The "Strunk & White" badge requires 80 edits, while the "Archaeologist" badge requires 100 edits.
  • The "Archaeologist" badge counts only edits on posts that were inactive for 6 months.

Both differences favor the "Strunk & White" badge, making it easier to achieve. To me, this seems silly, considering they're both silver badges. Therefore, I propose we somehow change the number of post edits requirement so the "Strunk & White" badge requires more edits. The simple solution would be to swap the post number requirements, like so:

  • Strunk & White: Edited 100 posts
  • Archaeologist: Edited 80 posts that were inactive for 6 months

However, any changes which resulted in the "Strunk & White" badge requiring more post edits would work.

  • 8
    What's wrong with Strunk & White being slightly easier?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 16:53
  • 6
    @AnnaLear - Well, normally it's fine if two badges of the same level differ in difficulty. However, the "Archaeologist" badge has all the requirements of the "Strunk & White" badge, plus more and another requirement entirely. To me, this seems silly. If badges are going to differ in difficulty, they should be on different requirements. There should always be a way to argue that one badge is more difficult than the other, even if the vast majority would disagree. In the case of these badges, that argument cannot be made.
    – jeff
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


There is a very good reason for making the Archaeologist badge slightly less rewarding than Strunk & White badge. When a user edits a post, it is bumped back up to the top of the active queue so that other users will see it. The point is so that the community can review the edits as a quality control measure. For newer posts, this also gets the question more attention in general, which can help lead to answers, votes, and comments.

With older posts, the same thing happens, the edited posts are bumped back to the top for the same reasons. However, they may be less valuable, since they're more likely to have answers.

The goal of the Strunk & White and gold Copy Editor badges is to encourage editing, since editing is key to quality control. Now, if you just happen to stumble across an older post during a Google search while searching for a question you have, and you just happen to edit it to fix some major problems you see, then that's awesome! But encouraging people to go on a witch-hunt for such posts may not be the best thing for the main page.

Thus, the badge is there for people who happen to fix these posts as they see them, but the reward is not set so high that the editing focus is taken away from the newer material in need of more substantial edits.

Unlike some other badges, Archaeologist isn't synonymous with the Strunk & White or Copy Editor badges, or Enthusiast and Fanatic badges, or Announcer, Booster, and Publicist badges. This is probably why Archaeologist has some slightly higher threshold requirements than the silver and gold editing badges.

Update on now-deleted comment:

If you really want the badge, go for it :) A few avid users who really want the badge won't significantly clog up the system. It's when everyone does it that it becomes a real problem. Consider that badges are designed to encourage certain desired bahaviors, and the right mixture of reward/cost help Stack Exchange tune those behaviors so they're at exactly the right levels. – jmort253 yesterday

NOTE: This was really bad advice and can actually clog up the system. One of the reasons this badge is a little harder to get is because Stack Exchange doesn't want to see the main page cluttered with too many older questions. Since each edit has an effect on what appears on the homepage, edits to older posts should be clearly substantial and add significant value to the post.

I withdraw my recommendation to go on a "badge run" for the Archaeologist badge. Focus on the Strunk & White instead! :)

  • 3
    "But encouraging people to go on a witch-hunt for such posts may not be the best thing for the main page." But then why do we have the badge at all? Won't this badge simply encourage seeking out old posts to edit? And the higher the requirement, the more posts users desiring the badge will have to seek out.
    – jeff
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 17:20
  • @jeff - Hey Jeff, I'm really sorry! I think I gave you some bad advice yesterday and I apologize. Surprisingly, too many edits on older questions can clog up the "active" page, even on Stack Overflow! :) I edited my answer to clarify my now deleted comment.
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 3:15
  • 1
    Haha, that's fine. I ended up getting my "Archaeologist" badge anyway, so I'm all done now. Sorry to have clogged up the active page.
    – jeff
    Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 3:19

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