If someone is able to earn 20,000 reputation from scores on 1,000 or fewer posts, is it an indication that the user tends to write consistently high quality questions and answers? If so, should this be rewarded with a badge? Could this help encourage other users to put more thought and time into their answers, and basically encourage quality over quantity over time?

Considering that we no longer support questions attracting answers that tend to receive an inordinate amount of up votes in the form of I agree or Me too!, have we arrived at a place where this type of ratio could be rewarded accurately? I'm aware that there still may be some in the system, but I don't think many at this point.

If yes to all, what type of badge should it be .. and what would be a good name for it?

This is purely a discussion for now. Yes, I would not be far from earning such a badge, but that goes for this guy too. This guy is a good example of the less than typical case that I'd like to reward.


Some users manage to hit 40k in under 1,000 total posts contributing to their score. The 1,000 number was just a starting point. I hope for the discussion to establish if the idea is tenable or not, as well as a more concrete implementation of the threshold. It may make sense to have two badges, gold favoring the smaller number of posts.

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    I have like 13K rep with just about 300 posts on Ask Ubuntu. I think the issue is people are not voting enough on quality posts. – jokerdino Nov 3 '12 at 4:10
  • I approve this message. Disclosure: I have 33k in ~740 posts, – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 3 '12 at 4:35
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    PS: This guy deserves a platinum version of this badge if it ever gets implemented: stackoverflow.com/users/6524/john-resig – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 3 '12 at 4:38
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    Yeah. Whoever "John Resig" is. – Josh Darnell Nov 3 '12 at 4:39
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    @NullUserExceptionอ_อ That's indeed a corner case. While John has provided fantastic answers, he'd get the badge for basically being John while providing fantastic answers. What is it with people named John, however they spell it? – Tim Post Nov 3 '12 at 4:49
  • Could be casing for "Outliers" or "Laconic" – random Nov 3 '12 at 4:49
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    I think having the very thin sliding window is key; it allows everyone to still play without excluding anyone out of the gate. Also, you have to think of the effect of people who are going to game seriously for this badge, we're going to get less content out of them. Is that a good thing? Will the badge guarantee great content which justifies the lack of it? Time will tell. – casperOne Nov 3 '12 at 5:30
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    "is it an indication that the user tends to write consistently high quality questions and answers?" - That, or they have a good sense of what will be both popular and permitted, effort and quality not guaranteed. – Tim Stone Nov 3 '12 at 5:50
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    I always hated those video game achievements that are time/etc limited, locking you out forever after X point. I certainly don't like it when it "matters" either; badges should be awarded for good behavior, and I don't think that should be limited by the way or order you've chosen to participate (see also Unsung Hero) – Ben Brocka Nov 4 '12 at 3:55
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    20,000 req with 1,000 posts is just an average of 20 rep per post, or 2 upvotes per post. That seems rather...low. – Servy Nov 5 '12 at 16:25
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    The reason why I think this is problematic, is because if you've posted 1001 posts and didn't get 20k, you'll never be able to get the badge! – Madara's Ghost Nov 5 '12 at 19:42
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    I am not a native English speaker, or maybe I am oblivious about some meme, but are you sure the title of this post is right...? Maybe you meant "20k in under 1k"? – Arjan Nov 5 '12 at 20:19
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    Rep relates much more to whether someone with many followers (@spolsky) tweets a question than to the answer's quality. – sbi Nov 7 '12 at 21:09
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    @Arjan, I am a native English speaker and that title tripped me up too, not because of the misssing "k" but because the units on the two numbers are different. "20k rep in under 1k posts". And you're right that the missing "k" is also a separate issue, even if they were the same unit. You can sometimes elide units that were mentioned earlier when using words and not symbols, however. So "I have 5 dollars and you have 10" is fine, but "I have $5 and you have 10" is not idiomatic. </pedantic> – Ben Lee Nov 8 '12 at 20:15
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    One problem with this is it will be rather biased towards the predominant tags (C# for example). I just got my bronze VB.NET badge from (now) 101 posts with a score of 109, but I've also got Tenacious and well on the way to get Unsung Hero. For comparison I've also answered 37 C# tagged questions with a score of 64. Unless we suddenly get a lot of VB.NET users logging in and upvoting, I'll have to answer 20k questions to get 20k points (or give up on this "unused" language). Obviously some of my answers aren't perfect, or first, and a couple do have a long tail. Just venting I suppose... – Mark Hurd Nov 9 '12 at 6:11

I always thought I wrote really great answers on Stack Overflow, yet out of 545 answers I only have 3 that are scored at 10 or more. My impression of most of the highest voted material on this site has been that it is closed or historically locked. Whenever I see something highly voted, I think "Oh jeez, more posts about programmers favorite cartoons"

One notable exception that changed my thinking was a post by Mysticial, Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted array?, which I found interesting and demonstrates that not every highly upvoted post is about a bikeshed problem. It was well written, and this user has consistently hit the rep cap again and again because of this one answer.

So, if I were to support a badge for people who gain rep quickly on few posts, I'd want to see the following criteria considered:

Criteria for the Fast Track Badge:

  • Closed posts do not count. You don't get a badge for any upvotes on closed posts.

  • Deleted posts do not count (Obviously, they don't count anyway, but this is here to be thorough)

  • Locked posts do not count. They're usually locked for historical reasons, in my experience, or because there's a major problem that requires keeping the entire community from making changes.

  • Community Wiki posts do not count. CW is dead.

  • Protected posts do count, because sometimes you have to protect posts to keep out the "me too-ers", even on posts that are outstanding, on-topic, and constructive.

Other Criteria to Consider:

  • I see way too many open posts from 2010 and earlier that aren't bad, but if they were asked today would receive a barrage of close votes and attacks from spiteful, pitchfork-wielding downvoters. Maybe they're close-worthy, maybe they're not, but one thing we should question is whether or not these posts would bias the badge count for people who receive lots of upvotes on posts prior to 2011. I'm not sure this should be a requirement, but it could be a problem worthy of a creative solution.
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    I'm not so sure about the 2011 cutoff. An open question about searching a doubly linked list is just as valid today as it was in 2009. – Tim Post Nov 3 '12 at 4:56
  • @TimPost - Sure, that's a valid point. So should the badge be something that can be removed when some obscure post from 2009 with 500 upvotes on a Calvin & Hobbs post finally gets closed? Is that even a problem? I guess I don't dig around old posts much to know if any of those are still actually open, but do you think there are still highly upvoted older posts on the site that are NC or off-topic? I guess the 2010 posts I'm thinking of are usually about +7 or +8, so they wouldn't count anyway. Usually if something gets as many upvotes as Mysticial's posts, people see them.... – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 4:58
  • [cont'd] - So they won't stay open for long... ok fair enough. I'll edit this and at least separate the 2011 from the other criteria, but I think the other points are a necessity. ;) – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 5:00
  • I think the majority of the cartoon / favorite comment / as a programmer, when did you hit puberty / otherwise GTKY questions have been closed, and the purely nonsensical ones deleted. There are probably a few still left in the system, but not many. – Tim Post Nov 3 '12 at 5:02
  • @TimPost - Between you and my inner monologue, I'm convinced. ;) – jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 5:03
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    Coincidentally, I was complaining that people mindlessly upvoted my answer 1 minute before you posted this. chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/6750556#6750556 – yannis Nov 3 '12 at 5:14
  • "closed posts" - my understanding is, this disqualifies closed questions along with answers to closed questions - right? – gnat Nov 6 '12 at 7:02
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    Yes @gnat, that's what I was thinking. For instance, the 1000 upvotes bob got for posting his favorite xkcd cartoon in an answer don't count. ;) – jmort253 Nov 6 '12 at 8:19
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    The Trouble With Popularity yeah. Good to hear that your answer covers it. Counting answers to closed questions would make this "game" too unfair imNSho. Not to mention that closed questions are blocked from getting competing answers which also may skew voting results – gnat Nov 6 '12 at 8:29
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    I'm accepting this because it's the most in depth answer when it comes to what would need to be considered if something (like) this was implemented. The idea, as proposed is obviously not going to fly. However, I'm not sure the desired effect is unattainable. – Tim Post Nov 14 '12 at 11:37

I disagree with this proposal as its currently phrased since I think it encourages users to only post a few excellent answers instead of many acceptable answers, which I think would be bad for the site due to the number of questions that get asked here.

If we have an "expert" participating in the site, I'd much rather have them answer as many questions as possible instead of spending their time on just a few questions.

I come to SO seeking help with a specific problem, not a tutorial. I value fast and accurate answers that solves my problem. Sure I appreciate users who take the time to explain things in detail to me, however I would much rather have a fast answer to my problem than no answer at all just because someone doesn't want to ruin their answer/rep ratio to get a badge.

In addition, badges are normally used to encourage specific behaviors, and as someone who posts a lot of quick answers here while waiting for some process or another to finish, I would feel like I'm doing something wrong by posting quick short answers instead of taking the time to write a more detailed answer.

Another factor that would play into this is its popular and highly viewed questions that get so many answer votes, not extremely well written answers to low-viewed questions. So this would encourage users to seek out popular questions and write a stellar answer for them, instead of answering new questions in lesser-known tags.

  • We have a whole bunch of badges that already give that - both questions and answers. There's even a few in regards to getting accepted first as well as having a high score. – Makoto Nov 5 '12 at 16:22
  • @Makoto Thanks, I didn't realize that. I've removed the part in my answer that suggested a badge for X votes on Y questions instead. I want my answer to focus more on the fact I think encouraging a few excellent answers over many acceptable answers is a bad idea. – Rachel Nov 5 '12 at 16:26
  • Fair enough. It would be good to flesh that portion out a little bit more. – Makoto Nov 5 '12 at 16:28
  • @Makoto Ok, I made another edit to try and explain my reasoning a bit more :) – Rachel Nov 5 '12 at 16:46
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    Good points, this discussion is turning out to be very constructive. There is a bit of consternation in our mature community regarding how quickly and easily people climb the privilege scale with quality that doesn't really measure up to the quality we saw when we began. I can't say that I don't share the same concern. I keep thinking that there is a way to encourage something close to that level of quality again, more than we're doing .. but the way to do it keeps falling just out of reach. – Tim Post Nov 5 '12 at 17:18
  • @TimPost I think you'll need a separate voting system for that. Currently upvotes can mean any number of things - post was useful, I agree with this post, post answers the question, post was well written and detailed, etc, however all those votes measure content, not the user, and vary wildly based on how popular the content is. Consider implementing a separate voting system for users based on the quality of their site contributions. Vote up a user if they were friendly, helpful, good at explaining things, etc and give them additional points for accurately helping with site moderation tasks – Rachel Nov 5 '12 at 17:58
  • @TimPost: discourage "new" users less? That holds for anyone below the 10k mark, I reckon. I also see that if you are a .NET buff, you get loads of votes (both ways), if you look into more arcane topics and take an hour to write up an answer to a previously unanswered question you are lucky to see votes at all. More than on many of the other SE sites, on SO the rating is directly tied to the attention a topic can get. – 0xC0000022L Mar 29 '13 at 13:15

I sort of agree, except that the biggest chunks of votes go to answers on questions that are merely popular or really easy to answer, and not necessarily the actual frakking awesome answers on some more complex questions. So I think this would just add to the bias.

I have no data that I could be bothered to compile.

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    I have to agree with you here. The vast majority of the things that hit +100 in a single day are short and trivial. But those are rare enough not to skew who gets such a badge. The real problem lies with short FGITW answers getting more upvotes than better answers. – Mysticial Nov 6 '12 at 19:11

Instead of discouraging people from posting more, why not encourage them to post more quality posts? Quality can be determined by the number of votes they garner.

To illustrate my version of the idea, a user should have

  • posted 1000 posts
  • 75% of the posts have at least one (or two) votes
  • 25% of the answers should have been accepted as the best answer
  • gotten at least 1750 votes (would roughly equal 20000 reputation considering an upvote on answers give you 10 rep and 5 rep from upvotes on questions)
  • voted at least 1000 times

Basically, the idea is to ensure she has posted a significant number of quality posts that improve the Internet. The voting requirement is to ensure she is not being selfish.

  • This is essentially the ratio idea but with minimum cutoffs. – Mysticial Nov 3 '12 at 5:37
  • I guess I missed the ratio idea. Can you link me? Or was that your idea in itself? – jokerdino Nov 3 '12 at 5:42
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    This has one very significant benefit over just using rep - it doesn't penalize folks based on the rep cap. – Jon Skeet Nov 3 '12 at 7:44
  • I doubt that the 25% accepted answers is a good measure. Will that not get us "I deleted all my old non-accepted answers, and now I'm banned from posting" type of questions on meta? – Bo Persson Nov 3 '12 at 11:43
  • @BoPersson If they are deleting less than valuable answers, then I would say it is a good thing overall. And I am sure any user who is going after such a badge would have no problem ever triggering the post ban. In any case, the numbers are posed as a suggestion and it better not be taken all too rigidly. – jokerdino Nov 3 '12 at 11:51

I like the idea. But I'm biased because I stand to gain such a badge under the suggested thresholds.

But a few questions (or rather points of discussion):

  1. Should deleted posts count? It may be possible for someone to game this by simply deleting all answers that don't get enough votes. What about posts deleted after the 60-day keep-your-rep grace period.

  2. Should these by done by fixed thresholds (20k rep + <1000 posts), or should it be done by ratio?

    For example, Eric Lippert has 190k with only 2k answers. 2k posts will exclude him from the badge. But he averages 92 rep/answer - far more than what's required for 20k + 1000 posts. (And one of the highest ratios among all users.)

  • It would be based on the number of posts contributing to your reputation, so no - deleted or CW posts would not count. As for ratio based, we do have precedence for badges being a moving target (generalist), but I'm not sure if a ratio would be appropriate for this. I'm hoping to make it a solid, non moving goal people can work toward. – Tim Post Nov 3 '12 at 4:45
  • And if anyone's wondering. As of this writing, my 4.9k answer has about ~3450 votes that were completely over the repcap. So I gained less than 15k from it. So even without that answer, I'd still have more than 40k rep. – Mysticial Nov 3 '12 at 4:47
  • @TimPost On the other hand, Tenacious and Unsung Hero are ratio based. So that's the "moving goal" that you're talking about. – Mysticial Nov 3 '12 at 4:52
  • That's part of the reason why I started with a 1k baseline, a lot of users that would earn this have rather 'exceptional' answers in their history, and it's difficult to crunch that by viewing profiles (especially taking CW and rep ceilings into account) – Tim Post Nov 3 '12 at 4:53

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