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I'm curious. Is it possible to obtain a gold badge without getting any bronze or silver badges? It doesn't seem like it would be.

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    Why does it matter? – Oded Jul 13 '13 at 17:59
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    Constable and Sheriff, at least in theory, since I've yet to see a badgeless moderator. – Frédéric Hamidi Jul 13 '13 at 18:00
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    Close as not constructive. Oh, wait.... – juergen d Jul 13 '13 at 18:02
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    @all answerers: are we sure that all bronze/silver badges existed before the gold ones did...? – Arjan Jul 13 '13 at 18:21
  • @Arjan well no, but question is about being able to obtain it, not about whether it has happened to other people in the past. – JonW Jul 13 '13 at 18:32
  • Ok, @JonW, so that implies that all current bronze and silver badges, if they were created after the gold ones, would have been granted in retrospect? This might indeed be the policy; I don't know. Otherwise someone might have been above the bronze or silver threshold when those were added, without actually owning the badge today. ;-) (Sorry,in reality, I couldn't care less about this question and their answers; but now that it exists and is being answered, I want to make sure the answers are accurate!) – Arjan Jul 13 '13 at 18:37
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    @Arjan Some badges are awarded retroactively, yes. For example the Constable and Sheriff badges mentioned here are only a few weeks old, yet they've been awarded to people who have met the award criteria - otherwise we'd have to wait another year before anyone got the Sheriff badge. – JonW Jul 13 '13 at 18:47
  • I regret this question so hard. – Ryan Haining Jul 13 '13 at 19:20
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    (Don't worry about some downvotes!) – Arjan Jul 13 '13 at 19:26
  • @doubleDown, you just invalidated the top-voted answer ;-) – Arjan Jul 13 '13 at 20:55
  • @Arjan, do I get a badge for that? – Old Checkmark Jul 13 '13 at 22:19
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If we just go with the question in the title. (Could one get a gold badge without first getting any bronze badges?)

You could probably get Fanatic without ever earning a bronze badge.

However this does violate the never getting a silver badge because you get Enthusiast before Fanatic.

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Yes, mathematically possible but highly unlikely. Almost all of the gold badges are achieved after passing milestones that trigger bronze / silver anyway.

the only possible gold-only badge is the:

Constable. not even the Sheriff badges (as the sheriff is only awarded to elected mods, and you need a minimum rep to run in elections, meaning you've probably had a fair number of badges by then anyway).

Unlikely a moderator would not ask, answer, vote or visit for a whole year though. they'd be a pretty crappy moderator if so.

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    A moderator that would not ask, answer, vote or visit, wouldn't be a moderator for long, let alone a year. – Oded Jul 13 '13 at 18:04
  • Wouldn't be elected in the first place. – juergen d Jul 13 '13 at 18:04
  • I'm not saying it's ever going to happen, but of all the gold badges these are the only ones that wouldn't earn bronze or silver on the way to picking them up. However even Sheriff is probably impossible because I think you need a minimum rep to run for election which would require some badges be earned. So I guess it's only the Constable one that's actually possible. Not something to actually aim for though! – JonW Jul 13 '13 at 18:06
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    Even pro-temps are selected based on private beta activity... – Oded Jul 13 '13 at 18:09
  • Sheriff is impossible because you can't nominate for elections without 300 rep. Constable would just be silly because SE isn't going to nominate a pro-tem who is a non-participant. – Caleb Jul 13 '13 at 18:11
  • So it's probably just a mathematically possible situation then - kind of like a soccer team being mathematically able to win the league on the last day of the season if they can score 150 goals and Man United lost 400-0: Theoretically possible, but never going to happen. – JonW Jul 13 '13 at 18:11
  • @Caleb: Barring the reputation, in order to nominate yourself to become a moderator you'd have to visit the election page during an election, which would get you Caucus. – animuson Jul 13 '13 at 20:18
  • What about earning the rep through a bounty and bypassing the election page with a direct request that posts the nomination? Perhaps you could avoid caucus that way. – CodesInChaos Jul 14 '13 at 19:51
  • To be moderator, you need 4 silver badges at first. – Wasif Hasan Jul 28 at 2:25
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No. Unlike a couple of the bronze badges that are tokens more than rewards, gold badges are, across the board, things you will need to participate and (keyword) contribute towards the community in order to earn.

Gold badges recognize important contributions from members of the community. They are rarely awarded.

On the SE system if you participate in any minimum modicum, you are going to end up with at least one badge to your name.

The only way it could happen is if SE somehow rigs the system: manually awarding a badge by hacking the database or appointing mod status to a dead account.

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