- What are badges?
- How do users get badges?
- How can users get tag badges?
- What can cause a badge to be lost/revoked/taken away after it is awarded?
- How can I suggest a new badge?
What are badges?
Badges are awarded to users in recognition of their contributions to the community. There are many ways to contribute, and consequently, there are many badges.
There are three ranks of badges. Bronze badges are relatively easy to get, and often help teach users how to use the system. Silver badges are more difficult to earn, and can be gained for things like posting extremely insightful questions and answers, as well as a dedication to moderation and improvement of site content. Gold badges are the most difficult to earn, and generally signify outstanding dedication or achievement.
All of the badges that a user has earned are displayed on the user's profile. Also, each user's user card shows the number of badges the user has earned, broken down by rank.
Most badges a user can earn don't have any effect on site functionality; they are simply signs of accomplishment and bragging rights. A user's abilities are governed not by badges, but by their reputation points. There are two exceptions:
Holders of a gold tag badge (see below) can bindingly close questions with that tag as duplicates and reopen closed-as-duplicate questions that use that tag.
On Stack Overflow only, users need to attain four specific badges in order to be able to run in a moderator election, in addition to having a minimum amount of rep.
Additionally, certain specific badges can count toward the user's candidate score in a moderator election, which is a number shown to election voters that provides a rough indication as to the user's potential moderation skills. Aside from purely being shown to voters as info, this number isn't used anywhere else.
How do users get badges?
- See also: What are the badges I can earn on each site, and what are the exact criteria for earning each badge?
Users get badges by participating on the site. The badges page summarizes what is specifically needed to gain each badge. When a user meets the criteria for a badge, an automated background process adds the badge to the user's account.
Some badges can be earned more than once. If a user earns such a badge more than once, their name will appear on that badge's page once for each time they earned the badge. The badges listing on the user page will also display a multiplier next to the badge indicating the number of times it has been earned.
In some cases badges gained or lost may not show up immediately, but it will instead be awarded the next time the system recalculates badges, which occurs periodically.
How can users get tag badges?
These are awarded when you achieve a specific number of upvotes for answers within a particular eligible tag (which is in use on at least 100 questions). If you wish to track your tag badge progress you can do so, but only tags with 100 questions are visible.
There are three levels: bronze requires 100+ upvotes in 20+ answers, silver requires 400+ upvotes in 80+ answers, and gold requires 1,000+ upvotes in 200+ answers. Only non-community-wiki answers are considered.
For example, if you get 400 upvotes for answers to questions tagged java, you'll get a java silver badge. Earn another 600 upvotes for a shiny gold badge, along with a binding close-as-duplicate vote on all questions tagged java!
You can check your progress on the Stack Exchange Data Explorer.
See the announcement post and this section of the list of all badges with full descriptions for details.
What can cause a badge to be lost/revoked/taken away after it is awarded?
Tag badges are revoked immediately if you ever cease to meet their criteria, which could happen through deletion, downvotes, votes being invalidated, conversions to community wiki, or post dissociation. It can also happen if the tag is removed from questions you've answered, is removed from other questions such that it's now used on fewer than 100 questions and is as such ineligible for tag badges, or is overall burninated by an employee.
Regular badges (except Stack Overflow Documentation)
In most cases, regular badges, once actually awarded (see the last section), are yours to keep. Even if you no longer meet the criteria to earn the badge (the post was deleted, you got downvoted, the feature was removed, the badge criteria were redefined, etc.), you get to keep your badge. If you qualify for the same badge again (another post earns you a post-related badge, for example), you won't be penalized either (source).
The Stack Exchange team has stated repeatedly that non-tag badges will never be revoked except under the following exceptional circumstances (though not always):
- you are dissociated from a post which earned you a badge
- the badge was awarded due to a software bug or other mistake1
- an account that has a badge that it no longer qualifies for was merged into another account
- the badge was obtained by heinous cheating
For the last bullet above, behavior that qualifies as "heinous" is defined by Stack Exchange employees on a case-by-case basis, but here are some guidelines:
- Using a bunch of sockpuppets to upvote posts by your main account for Enlightened or Nice Question qualifies as "heinous".
- Downvoting something and then immediately undoing your downvote just so you get Critic for free is kind of dumb, but not "heinous".
Special note: Stack Overflow Documentation badges
As part of the discontinuation of Stack Overflow Documentation, most of the Documentation-related badges were revoked, with users who had one or more such badges (except Educated, for reading the tour) receiving a new, single Documentation User silver badge in exchange. The Documentation Beta and Pioneer badges (for making substantive contributions during the private beta and the first public month, respectively) weren't revoked. Source
This was an exceptional circumstance caused by the shutdown of Stack Overflow Documentation; generally, earned non-tag badges aren't revoked.
How can I suggest a new badge?
Search to make sure it hasn't already been suggested, and then post it as a new question tagged badge-request. However, keep in mind that badges are meant to reward positive behavior. Just requesting a new badge for the sake of having a new badge will likely result in heavy downvotes. Make sure your badge request has meaning - explain exactly how the badge should work, the positive behavior it would encourage, and why that behavior isn't already encouraged by existing badges.
I met the criteria for a badge, but I didn't earn it. Should I report it?
Most badges, except the Informed badge, aren't awarded immediately, but rather by a script that runs periodically. Be patient.
Note that if you cease to meet the badge criteria before the badge script runs and awards you the badge, you won't earn the badge. For example, if you ask a question with a positive score, but your question gets downvoted before the script runs, you won't earn the Student badge. (This does not apply if the downvote were to occur after the script has awarded you the badge; see the fourth section above.)
If 24 hours have passed since you met the criteria, you still continue to meet the criteria, and you still haven't earned the badge, only then should you report it. See: How long does it take for badges to be awarded? How are they generated?
1. An example case where an "other mistake" happened was when the criteria for the publicity badges (Announcer, Booster, and Publicist) were changed to count questions and answers separately rather than count answer clicks toward the parent question. Users who earned a badge under the previous rules but wouldn't qualify under the new rules got to keep their badge, but those who earned one under both the old and new rules (and as such earned a duplicate badge) had their duplicate award revoked, retaining only one badge.