After watching the flurry of activity, and people (i.e. myself) trying to do a lot of stuff to try and get some of the secret hats, I realized that it might be worthwhile for SE to give out secret badges.

Some criteria and specs:

  • more work than gold ones of the same type
  • shown with some special symbology next to the gold in the top bar
  • did I mention secret, i.e. you won't know until you get one

So you could do one for five thousand edits, one hundred upvoted comments, 1000 point questions, or whatever. If you can think up a bunch of secret hats, then you can probably come up with a bunch of secret badges. Go Wild!

  • 7
    Like the idea (+1) trouble is it's like secret achievements on Xbox360. You just read the plethora of online tutorials and/or achievements guides/list to find out what the secret ones are. Or ask a friend who unlocked it. Same with these. People will ask questions on MSO, hints will be given, if not answers, or just posted away from Stack. So for this to work better, you'd never be told how you got it even when you earned it.
    – James
    Dec 22, 2013 at 13:11
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    I would like some cross site achievements. Over x rep on y sites, for example. Posted on z sites on the same day. That sort of thing Jan 9, 2014 at 23:15

7 Answers 7


This is something that we're actively considering (in fact, it came up quite long before this year's Winter Bash). It would definitely serve to reward people that do what's needed to get the gold badges, and keep going.

The 'secretness' of them solves the problem of implementing badges with higher criteria than gold, we don't publicly set very high goals that are likely not attainable by the vast majority of users.

I'm not sure of the timeline here, but this is something that's been / being discussed.

Note - regarding concerns of these being gamed, it would be impossible unless if by gaming you mean doing whatever the badge implies consistently right over a long period of time. You wouldn't get something for reviewing 5k things, you'd get something for reviewing 5k things with n or fewer review bans in the last y (time). I realize guards need to be around this.

  • I sense...a myriad of people suddenly being encouraged to review the close vote queue long after they've hit 1,000...but I don't particularly like the sense. What assurances are there that users won't just wind up gaming the system to get the super secret badges, just to say they have them?
    – Makoto
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:26
  • @Makoto They'd be far too difficult to earn for the average robo-reviewer, and we have guards around that now. Additionally, we had not established any criteria for them, only feasibility at this point.
    – user50049
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:30
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    I really don't see the point of secret badges. It only takes one person to blab about how you actually obtain them, then it's not a secret anymore. While the secret is easier to control in a short 3-week event, I don't see the point in even trying for something that's permanent. Why bother hiding the criteria?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:33
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    @animuson we wouldn't hide the criteria, they just wouldn't be listed on the badges page. Eventually, folks would know what they are, but we don't put things that are out of reach for most folks in the main list.
    – user50049
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:46
  • Secret badges turned on/off for a secret duration (maybe), so even if the criteria becomes a public information will you get it or not would still be a secret. Dec 22, 2013 at 9:02
  • The secret aspect could probably be maintained to a reasonable degree anyway if meta posts asking about the secret were closed as off topic and answers revealing it deleted. Dec 22, 2013 at 13:57
  • @MartinSmith So people would move the discussion to one of the other 1234567890 plausible sites on the Internet. Dec 22, 2013 at 13:59
  • @Gilles Maybe. I'm not sure how many people would bother seeking out alternate venues for discussion on this myself. Dec 22, 2013 at 14:04
  • Diamond badges. This way we know as soon as we look at someones profile that they got the badge. Dec 23, 2013 at 13:59
  • "reviewing 5k things with n or fewer review bans" - wait, so, even perfect reviewers are expected to hit the occasional review ban? And you're even giving out robocop hats for reviewing? Stack Overflow doesn't have high opinion about those who do the dirty work, really :-) Dec 23, 2013 at 14:07
  • @JanDvorak You lost a bit of context there when you chopped off the part about 'in the last (y) time' ;) Just sayin'. And that was just a hypothetical illustration of how something could work and be very difficult (in fact even unattractive) to game.
    – user50049
    Dec 23, 2013 at 14:26
  • But, when you add that part, it seems you have even less respect in us, not more :-) Dec 23, 2013 at 14:27
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    April 1st will be easy next year: just tag this question as status-completed without any other changes ;-)
    – Arjan
    Dec 24, 2013 at 5:55

Secret badges? Sign me up! :)

However, my take on it would be slightly different. Don't get me wrong, badges are cool and all. But another badge is just another number somewhere in a profile summary.

What users want are gravatar modifiers. That is the truly awesome spectacle of the hats. And the hats are awesome.

I would suggest that these secret badges, instead of being epicly hard to achieve and requiring a ton of time, are temporary. Temporary being in the time frame of 6 to 8 weeks (2 months, 6 possible per year). This time frame would allow for time to consider the next one.

Every 2 months (6 times a year) offer a secret achievement. This could carry a badge earning if you wished. Perhaps a silver badge that could be earned multiple times.

The achievement would vary, and so would the reward. The reward would be a gravatar modifier of some sort. However, at the end of the current achievement period (every two months), the modifier would be gone, and the only way to get the next one would be to complete the achievement.

The benefit from constantly coming up with new or different achievements would allow the SE staff to direct user traffic to the most needed parts of the exchange. And also, users would love being able to get a gravatar modifier.

They would have to be rather exceptional though. Such as hitting the review cap 10 days in a row.

  • I would like a badge for posting image of a unicorn :D Dec 22, 2013 at 8:51
  • @ShadowWizard - Haha, well if there were such a badge, you would probably earn it when it was released from past postings :)
    – Travis J
    Dec 22, 2013 at 8:52
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    @ShadowWizard - This was my favorite unicorn image I posted ;) i.imgur.com/fbM76PD.png
    – Travis J
    Dec 22, 2013 at 8:53
  • Nice one! Your doing? ;) Dec 22, 2013 at 8:53
  • @ShadowWizard - Someone had requested a unicorn image with red hand drawn circles in a wiki post :) I was happy to oblige
    – Travis J
    Dec 22, 2013 at 8:54
  • Nice, missed that one! Dec 22, 2013 at 8:56
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    Yes please, I want to keep a cat climbing over my octocat! :D Dec 22, 2013 at 20:13

There could even be a fun side, neither good nor bad. A few examples:

  • Refresher Badge - someone who refreshes a single page more than 20 times without browsing other parts of the site.

  • Narcissist - someone who after x amount of time being on the site has only looked at their own posts.

  • Camper - someone who leaves their window open on a single page for more than 24 hours.

  • The One - someone who has exponentially more quote code in their posts than non-quoted words.



I think that this could be a good idea, and it could work. Perhaps a badge beyond gold for some categories, as you mentioned, 1000 point questions or something like that?

However, you've seen how long most of the secret hats have remained "secret", and I think secret badges would be even more easily exposed than hats.

But, while a lot of hats have encouraged good behavior, I believe that I've also seen some hats encourage discouraged behavior, mainly robo-reviewing and robo-voting. If there were to be a titanium (or rhodium, or whatever) badge, it would have to be for things that would be very hard to abuse, such as upvotes received, or # of quality flags and edits.

  • In regards to gaming, since users wouldn't know the criteria it would be harder to game. Dec 22, 2013 at 7:30
  • but once the first person got it, they would immediately take to meta to post about it, and it wouldn't really be secret
    – scrblnrd3
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:31
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    @LanceRoberts Well, they would eventually know the criteria once each badge is discovered, but it wouldn't be easily gamed (or even worth the efffort) if implemented correctly. A secret badge would need to not only say 'this person does lots of this', it would also imply 'this person does lots of this, and does it consistently right'.
    – user50049
    Dec 22, 2013 at 7:32
  • @scrblnrd3, we'll make them double secret. Dec 22, 2013 at 7:36
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    Whoever reveals the secret on Meta, give him/her a post ban and take away that badge :) Dec 22, 2013 at 9:04

This idea is patently silly.

As soon as secret badges are up, questions on meta will pop up asking how to obtain them; people will start tracking them through Data Explorer or extensions or whatnot like they always have and "conspire" to get them; it will become yet another hoop to jump through, ruining the whole point of "secretness".

That is, unless your secret badges are so outlandish that nobody on Stack Overflow already qualifies for them — therefore making them clinically insane.

I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't see the appeal of this one.


I think one badge that might be interesting is something like the Mortarboard/Epic/Legendary badges, but it counts rep over the rep cap, i.e. it looks at how much rep you could have got if you hadn't have hit the rep cap.


I like the idea of having secret badges. A way that I thought to make much more difficult for people to deduce them, is having one designated day a week for giving these badges.

For example, when a User qualifies to get a secret badge he gets it, but its hidden. And every Monday, all hidden badges are unhidden (:p) thus making much more difficult for a user to know how he got them. A lot of stuff probably happened that week in his/her account. And if it didn't, then he/she is not an active user and probably won't get any secret badges anyways.

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