What is the purpose of the tumbleweed badge? Why is asking questions no one answers or looks at a desirable accomplishment?

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    was this badge recently added? i don't remember it being there before. i guess i have to go ask a super-narrow question at an off hour and hope it gets buried so i can get this badge.. :)
    – Kip
    Commented Jul 7, 2009 at 16:27
  • the tumbleweed badge is also a measure of community attention to questions on average. if a question gets no activity whatsoever, its a se outlier, and some measure of site efficacy from the questioners pov can be made wrt total # of tumbleweed badges, their connection to certain tags, etc... it signifies content that is on topic but not addressed or thought significant by the audience, "flying under the radar". (somewhat like questions with no answers.)
    – vzn
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 19:59
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    See also List of all badges with full descriptions. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 22:41
  • Link to this question should be added to the definition of the badge Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 20:47
  • @MichaelFreidgeim not really since it's not official at all. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:03
  • @ShadowWizard , do we have official explanation? Unofficial is better than nothing. Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:28
  • @MichaelFreidgeim sure it's better than nothing, the high score speaks for itself, but linking to it from official page just seems wrong. Since this is open ended discussion, even most SE staff can't really give "real" answer these days, only those who actually created the badge. (e.g. Jeff, but I doubt he'll bother to give answer here.) Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 14:37
  • @ShadowWizard, Jeff Attwood already commented as to the purpose. I accepted the answer based on his comments.
    – Yishai
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 16:15
  • Related tweet (very important these days): https://twitter.com/robconery/status/974678531832610816 (by Rob Conery) - see the 10th response to the tweet. (Related meta post: Why does this account page return a 404 error?) Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:30
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    Why was this question closed? Was the tumbleweed badge discontinued? I couldn't find that.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 15:03
  • Yishai, ideally your question would have been closed as a duplicate of this FAQ where it's described in the last entry of that answer. Closing questions about retired badges using "OT no-repro" isn't as helpful. The purpose is described here, adding that to the FAQ would make closing this a duplicate of that a completely useful thing; but additional effort that no one was keen to undertake (it being retired, and little nostalgia remaining).
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 15:41
  • The Tumbleweed badge was retired in 2019. Related blog post: Adios to Unfriendly Badges! Ahoy, Lifejacket and Lifeboat. I couldn't find a corresponding meta post. Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 13:42

8 Answers 8


I see it more as a consolation prize. No one looked at your question or answered it, so here's something to hold you over until you get an answer.

  • 103
    Tumbleweed badge = "Here, have a cookie." =) Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 19:14
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    @gnovice: I vote for a name change to the badge :)
    – Jeff Yates
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 19:17
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    this is exactly the intent. And it's sort of fun, also useful because it gives us a data point about how many questions are utter failures in the system (not due to the user's fault, necessarily, either) Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 2:31
  • Well, if Jeff Atwood says that's the reason, who am I to argue. Although I did like cletus answer better (in that if the badge were geared towards that as well, it would be more useful - it would give Jeff what he wants plus retroactively give the question some potential love).
    – Yishai
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 17:10
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    @JeffYates I agree about name change, I'm used to hearing names like that given to people who do something foolish like a beginner.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 3:22
  • just "earned" a tumbleweed badge..I guess this is the most likely reason it exits but i think @cletus answer would be more helpful..also the name does seem to suggest,ever so subtly that the question is faulty in someway(;-) sounds like a rant eh lol)
    – jgatcher
    Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 9:42
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    I feel like this badge encourages bad questions. Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 21:57
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    @NathanLilienthal Writing bad questions is quite risky. Your chances of getting a tumbleweed badge are low, and your chances of loosing reputation are high. As someone said (meta.stackexchange.com/a/1653/344567) the tumbleweed badge is more likely to be attributed for a well-formulated but difficult question.
    – bli
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 16:38
  • I have been reviewing my last question after I got the badge and wondering what I did wrong. I have done enough research before posting that question. Usually, if the question was not well formed, someone will indicate that. I didn't get any responses so far for two weeks. @bli, what you said makes sense.
    – Raj006
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 22:34

I think the purpose of the Tumbleweed badge is (or should be) to bring attention to a neglected and probably esoteric question. Unfortunately it fails in that regard because we only see what users are awarded badges and not for which questions.

So basically this badge would have a whole lot more value if you could browse the questions awarded Tumbleweed.

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    This doesn't exactly show you the questions that for which Tumbleweed were awarded, but it's close: stackoverflow.com/search?q=answers:0&page=50&tab=newest Commented Aug 23, 2009 at 2:18
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    This is possible now.
    – Gelatin
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 14:53
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    The list of recently awarded Tumbleweed badges is available at stackoverflow.com/badges/63/tumbleweed. Unfortunately, it does not show whether the question has already received an answer/vote/comment.
    – Rob W
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 11:13
  • @RobW, But it shows the question. Isn't that the whole point of it?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 8:13
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    @Gelatin, It's such an esoteric page that hardly anyone visits it.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 8:13
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    @Pacerier: Only for the first such question a user asks; subsequent questions don't qualify in any case. Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 6:50
  • guess that we should add a page which encourages users look over those esoteric questions. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 12:19
  • I always browse the tumbleweed questions, its so easy to give em answers without trying to compete with other users! Commented May 31, 2017 at 16:51
  • @cletus I dun read this answer completely in yur voice.
    – Rob
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 8:40

It seems like the one badge where you could be rewarded for being intentionally mediocre. I could write a well phrased question about a topic that nobody cares about, so nobody answers or even reads it. It would be a valid question, so it won't get closed and would it just sits there until I get a badge.

Maybe there should be a tumbleweed cleaner badge for someone that answers one of these questions, or a tumbleweed question of the day based on moderator selection?

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    Good idea, I'd vote for it. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 7:57
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    I'd use the Gary Larson Far Side "Tumblenerd" for this. If it weren't copyrighted, that is.
    – T.Rob
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 2:11
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    I support this idea. I just earned a tumbleweed badge for this: stackoverflow.com/questions/9205721/… But I cannot vote yet...
    – Doochz
    Commented Apr 16, 2012 at 8:23
  • That would be an encouragement to encourage people answering hard questions.
    – Bebs
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 9:46
  • This is a very good idea. The tumbleweed cleaner should be a gold badge, since it's quite hard to answer a question which everyone ignored. Plus, it would give such askers an answer. Commented May 31, 2017 at 16:52
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    @Unitato in a way this is covered by the revival badge (Answer more than 30 days after a question was asked as first answer scoring 2 or more), there is also the necromancer badge (Answer a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more). Both badges can be earned multiple times.
    – Flint
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 15:19
  • It could also mean that the community does not have enough information, knowledge to answer questions with tubleweed badge.
    – dzieciou
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 10:29

I think the reason is, that if a question has no answers for a week, it must be pretty hard question! If it was just a crappy question/spam/etc, chances are it would be closed within a week.

That, or it's the the system's way of saying:

Sorry, I couldn't get you an answer. Please forgive me :(


I think that it encourages people to not leave the site and ask other questions in the future although they don't get answers for all of their questions.


"An 'A' for the effort" :)


I think it rewards questions that were maybe done in specific technologies. For instance, I have done many questions about Apache Zeppelin which is not very popular at the moment, but maybe my questions will contribute in the future and they are building new knowledge. I'm glad I got the badge :o)


Maybe it's a way of indicating that people don't care or perhaps want you to look for an answer somewhere else on the Internet (as I found mine).

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    This doesn't seem very coherent. Can you try to fix up the syntax and punctuation a bit? I got lost at "or look for answer...". That seems like a stub of a sentence.
    – user392547
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 9:33
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    @Chair I try my best at editing.I use grammarly for that.I have a language based learning disablity.
    – Shunya
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 10:31
  • That's alright. Are you trying to say that if (for example) I receive the tumbleweed badge, Stack Exchange is indicating that I should search somewhere else on the internet for my answer? Because while that's a perfectly legitimate opinion, I find it somewhat unlikely.
    – user392547
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 10:47
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    @Chair What I meant was (for example) topics like OpenCV have their own forums where the probability of your question being answered would be more,as someone there might have encountered a similar issue.Of course,the same set of users could be here answering.
    – Shunya
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 10:57

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