I have noticed edits that consist of a couple of words in some quite long posts, like replacing an abbreviation or shortened word with the full version one, leaving any typos/grammar mistakes intact. Alternatively adding code markdown, by wrapping a single word in backticks.

While I understand there are relatively few Copy Editor badges distributed, such modifications would contribute virtually nothing. Comparing that to what @PopularDemand does on Meta screams grind (almost like a MMO), yet if the assertion above holds, adding 1000 backticks may result in a gold badge.

The question: is the badge meant to be this easily gamed?

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    Meh, it has been awarded a mere 763 times on SO. Users are first limited to having their edits reviewed anyway, hopefully weeding out the majority of the "too minor" editors. And after that someone making a substantial amount of trivial edits would be noticed as well, I think. Don't see much of an issue here. – Bart Apr 27 '13 at 20:11
  • The changes seem to be by people who have enough score not to need approval. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 20:13
  • Yes, but such behavior would be spot quite fast and could be brought to attention (e.g. by flagging or contacting a moderator). – slhck Apr 27 '13 at 20:14
  • @slhck, I would not flag a person for adding code markdown once, all you have to do is edit different users' posts. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 20:16
  • Forgot to mention - popular questions have all of their answers in wiki mode, editing so low score user is a pot shot, it won't be flagged and requires very low reputation to edit wiki posts. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 20:17
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    If they have >2k editing privileges and don't actively harm a post, I'm not too bothered. I do occasionally leave a comment if I notice something being truly too minor. But if they are really in it for the badge, they would stop at 500 edits anyway. And as said, with a mere 763 such badges awarded (compared to the number of active users) it might be relatively easy to grind, but doesn't seem to be done a whole lot. – Bart Apr 27 '13 at 20:18
  • @Bart, you can edit wiki posts and no need to hit 2k at all. But if one just stops at the badge, it means it's easily gamed which the question about. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 20:22
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    @bestsss And I'm saying it's only really a problem if it actually happens at a significant scale. If you can show me that it does, by all means do so. – Bart Apr 27 '13 at 20:22
  • Obviously it can't be on "significant scale" due to the poor yields (I've mentioned in it the question) but even scanning the users having the badge would reveal enough doing a lot of code formatting in a single day. By no means I imply their actions are malicious (so I prefer to refrain from naming) - just the badge is trivial to game for a gold one, esp. if one is even remotely determined. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 20:38
  • :O I have the Copy-Editor badge too :O – hjpotter92 Apr 27 '13 at 20:39

I don't believe this is a problem.

Firstly, as Bart commented there's only 763 users with the copy editor badge. That's really not many.

Secondly, I honestly believe that one is either a serious editor, or not. If someone really put the effort in to get the copy editor badge, and didn't get edit-banned whilst doing so, I don't believe they'd be able to stop. As evidence there's only 4 users on SO with 500 edits. The numbers climb at a steady rate after that. You get used to editing, begin to like it and continue.

There doesn't appear to be any evidence that this gaming is going on or, if it is occurring, that it's actively harmful to the site. If someone is really so terminally bored with their life that they want to individually add a few thousand back ticks to 500 questions in order to obtain a few pixels then I honestly don't mind. As long as they're positively benefiting the site it doesn't matter that much. Of course, if that is actually what they're doing, they're far more likely to end up edit banned or the subject of a fairly intense meta post. It's just not as easy to do well, or quickly, without bringing large amounts of attention to yourself.

Anyway, I would guess that Fanatic is the easiest badge to get. Look at a few questions once a day; you don't even have to pretend that you care about capitalisation. As evidence 7,929 users have the badge, an order of magnitude more.

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  • I would guess that Fanatic is the easiest badge to get but it's a passive one and it just takes time (technically it can be achieved w/o visiting the site but that's counterproductive), i.e. not interesting one. So it's not a fair comparison. Imo a lot, more users would have it but I suppose many people do not logon unless wish to post. Yet, this doesn't answer if the badge is meant to be easily gamed, even though the gaming part doesn't happen much. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 21:00
  • @bestsss You seem to be focused on what could be, but not on what's actually happening. Sure, perhaps users could get a gold badge for 500 somewhat trivial edits to posts. But it doesn't seem to be happening. So what is the problem? – Bart Apr 27 '13 at 21:01
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    I, partially, contend that it's not easily gamed @bestsss. It's not interesting to do what you're suggesting and you bring huge amounts of attention to yourself... for instance this question and this one and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/170103/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/128514/… etc etc – ben is uǝq backwards Apr 27 '13 at 21:04
  • @Bart, unfortunately, I can't accept the comment as answer. Personally I'd not care the slightest if everyone has a full set of golden badges (I do not even see the badges on SO), so the question was not brought b/c I deemed anyone in particular had been exploiting the system. So if the system is working as expected but it still be gamed if determined, looks like a fair response. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 21:13
  • ben, the user form the 1st question has actually managed to nab the badge. – bestsss Apr 27 '13 at 21:14
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    Yes, they appear to be a pretty bad editor @bestsss... I shudder at the amount of backticks they must have added over time. However, note how they haven't stopped. They've continued editing. They're obviously under the impression that they're doing good with their edits. – ben is uǝq backwards Apr 27 '13 at 21:20

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