It would be nice to explore ways to recognize the far-greater-than-ordinary contributions from the users who work hard to make this a great community. There have been several posts on similar topics:

Synthesizing the ideas in these posts and adding others, how can we better recognize and support extraordinary contributions to the SO community?

  • This question was inspired by the idea of a meta-analysis. In academic research (as on SO) there are often many papers published on a common theme; a meta-analysis helps to bring them together, determine the commonalities, and provide more actionable suggestions than would otherwise be possible from any individual paper. – 3nafish Jan 11 '14 at 18:27
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    Note: Stack Exchange community managers send goodies (t-shirts, pens, stickers, etc) to people they feel can do with some extra recognition. That way you don't have to come up with more automated tasks to recognize each and every possible way someone can contribute extraordinarily. – Martijn Pieters Jan 11 '14 at 18:30
  • possible duplicate of Replace accept rate with citizenship level – gnat Jan 11 '14 at 18:50
  • @gnat How is that a duplicate? That question is a feature request for a specific quantitative way of measuring contribution. I'm proposing a discussion of the many (often qualitative) ways in which recognition of contribution can be improved. Pëkka's answer below is a great example of this, and would not work as an answer for your proposed "duplicate." – 3nafish Jan 11 '14 at 19:04
  • 'more general metric that covers a variety of "citizenship" metrics that do not result in rep... perhaps we should go the other way and show a tagline of honor for the top N percent of users' – gnat Jan 11 '14 at 19:06

There's indeed plenty of activities that are essential to the site, but aren't recognized by the system:

  • A scrupulous record of high-quality contributions, deleting bad answers despite substantial upvotes, editing outdated ones
  • Lots of high-quality commenting and editing , tag cleanups, really good flags

and many more.

I've had this idea for years that we should have a special decoration for recognizing continuous service to the site that is rewarded by individual users to their peers.

The decoration would be extremely difficult to earn, for example, you could get one every 10k reputation points. When you reach that threshold, you could reward the decoration to any user you like (or none), and specify a custom reward reason. The decoration would show up in the receiving user's profile as a gold or platinum badge.

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The whole process could be anonymous, so the receiving user never learns who the award came from.

Why this would be valuable:

  • It's something very special, that can't be earned through popular vote

  • It's a statement of trust as strong as a vote in a moderator election: your peers will have a long-term impression of you and the quality of your contributions

  • It's a merit that cannot be gamed

Making it a rep-based thing is elitist, but to have serious value it would have to be spectacularly rare.

I never fleshed out the idea, though, out of a feeling that it wouldn't be too well received (and would never get implemented anyway.)

  • So Skeet would get to award 66 of these, right? – Undo Jan 11 '14 at 18:46
  • @Undo yeah. Wouldn't have a problem with that though - I'm sure the page 1 users would do that in moderation, and with great care – Pekka Jan 11 '14 at 18:47
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    My question would be how would people know who to give these to, many positive unrecognised activities involve toiling away in the dark with no-one to see. – Richard Tingle Jan 11 '14 at 19:49
  • I sort of want to echo Richard's sentiment; a lot of the things that people do to make this site good aren't really things that necessarily get attention. – Dennis Meng Jan 11 '14 at 21:04
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    @Richard long-term users tend to see who contributes consistently good stuff and who's just there for the points. An edit here, a suggestion there... I could list 20-30 people right away who I think would deserve the distinction – Pekka Jan 11 '14 at 21:06
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    @Pëkka, you say you "never fleshed out the idea, though, out of a feeling that it wouldn't be too well received" but it got 11 upvotes here. Maybe it's worth proposing as a feature request... – 3nafish Jan 15 '14 at 22:21
  • One of the most exciting proposals in a long time. – tshepang Feb 20 '14 at 22:38
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    @Tshepang thank you! Maybe this needs to be a proposal on its own after all, I think I have a writeup somewhere. – Pekka Feb 26 '14 at 17:59
  • looking forward to it – tshepang Feb 26 '14 at 18:01

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