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Back in June Jon Ericson made the request for a new set of bronze, silver and gold badges to be added: Curious, Inquisitive and Socratic: Asking days badges.

Here are the descriptions and counts of awarded badges on Stack Overflow:

Curious

Asked a well-received question on 5 separate days, and maintained a positive question record (146.9k awarded)

Inquisitive

Asked a well-received question on 30 separate days, and maintained a positive question record (14.9k awarded)

Socratic

Asked a well-received question on 100 separate days, and maintained a positive question record (1.5k awarded)

Based on the number of users who have earned the badges already, this appears to have gone down quite well.

Why aren't there similar badges for answering questions?

The main Stack Exchange site I use is Stack Overflow, where I'm usually competent enough to find solutions to problems I have myself using Google. This puts me at a slight disadvantage, in badge terms, as it means I rarely find myself asking questions. In the 2 and a half years I've been a member of Stack Overflow, I've posted almost 1,100 answers but I've only asked 32 questions.

On Stack Overflow there's already a large disparity between the counts of Question badges and Answer badges awarded. Over 5.75 million Question badges have been given out, compared to 2.18 million Answer badges.

What I'd love is for these three badges to also be applied to Answers as well as Questions.


I don't know how accurate the formulae for handing out these three badges from Jon's proposal is compared to what was actually implemented, but assuming it hasn't changed much, the question formula is something along the lines of:

(total questions - negative questions - closed - deleted) / total questions >= 0.5

To apply this to answers, we'd only have to drop the closed variable:

(total answers - negative answers - deleted) / total answers >= 0.5

If this were to include too many users, we could always add closed back into the formula by discounting any answer posted to a now-closed question—although I figure that may be a tad unfair under some circumstances.

I guess accepted answers may also need to be thrown into the mix, but I'm not sure if an accepted answer necessarily implies a good answer—perhaps "highest voted" answer could be used instead?

((total answers + highest voted answers) - negative answers - deleted) / total answers >= 0.5

highest voted answers in this case could count answers on questions which are the only answer as long as they have a score of at least +1.


Keeping the same badge requirements, my proposed badge names for Answers would be:

Helpful

Posted a well-received answer on 5 separate days, and maintained a positive answer record

Qualified

Posted a well-received answer on 30 separate days, and maintained a positive answer record

Professional

Posted a well-received answer on 100 separate days, and maintained a positive answer record

One of the reasons the set of Question badges was added was to "encourage a habit of well-received questions over time", and I feel we should be doing that with answers as well.

Note: I've not used the Stack Exchange Data Explorer before, so I've not attempted to run any queries on how this would work out with existing users, but I'll have a play around with that now and see what I can come up with.

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    There are no such badges for answers because answering has not been a problem. Getting quality questions has been. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 16:45
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    You already get badges for consistent answer quality: tag badges. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 16:45
  • @MartijnPieters tag badges include questions as well, do they not? – James Donnelly Dec 19 '14 at 16:46
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    @JamesDonnelly No they don't. Tag score is based on answers only. – animuson Dec 19 '14 at 16:47
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    No, they do not. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 16:47
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We already have such badges: the expert badges (tag badges). These can be earned per tag even.

These badges award consistent quality within a tag:

  • Bronze tag badge: answered at least 20 questions in a given tag, where your total net score is 100 or higher

  • Silver tag badge: answered at least 80 questions in a given tag, where your total net score is 400 or higher

  • Gold tag badge: answered at least 200 questions in a given tag, where your total net score is 1000 or higher

Note that they are only ever awarded for answering. Questions with the tag are not eligible. The only caveat is that the answers must not be Community Wiki and there must be at least 100 questions posted within a tag before badges are awarded.

The Asking Question Days badges were introduced to help encourage an increase in question volume without risking a drop in quality. No such encouragement is needed for answers.

  • I see. For whatever reason I was under the impression that questions also contributed to the tag badges. Even with this included though, there's still a large disparity between question-related and answer-related badges. I mean, only 67,300 bronze tag badges have ever been awarded. – James Donnelly Dec 19 '14 at 16:50
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    @JamesDonnelly: only? That is a fairly sizeable number. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 16:50
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    Compared to the number of bronze asking day badges which have been awarded, that figure over 2 times less. – James Donnelly Dec 19 '14 at 16:52
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    @JamesDonnelly: but the number of silvers are comparable and the number of gold is higher. But you are comparing apples and pears here. Question askers usually have just a few questions, but answerers can easily answer dozens of questions. Hence we needed more people to ask good questions. The questions, once posted, were getting answers just fine. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 16:54
  • True, but one question can have multiple answers, thus the "highest voted answer" part of the formula. Just because you can answer, doesn't mean your answer is good. There have been 4 times more Nice Question badges awarded than Nice Answer badges, making questions more likely to fall into the catagories of "well-received" and "positive" than answers. – James Donnelly Dec 19 '14 at 16:59
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    @JamesDonnelly: There are also Guru badges to be earned; accepted and 40 or up. And there is the Accept bonus itself, which is not subject to the cap. There are plenty of incentives to answer well, not just in volume. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 17:04
  • @JamesDonnelly: so, over time, for a great answer I can hope to earn 1 bronze, 3 silver and a gold (nice, good, great answer, enlightened and guru), and with enough such answers, earn the expert badges too. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 17:06
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    @JamesDonnelly: and I almost forgot the new answer-and-edit-the-question badges. If you edit the question into shape within 12 hours before or after, there are also another set of 3 badges to be earned. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 17:07
  • @JamesDonnelly: but again, is there a specific problem with answer volume and quality that has to be addressed? Badges do not need to exist in symmetry, badges are there to either teach or encourage behaviour that is otherwise not seen enough. – Martijn Pieters Dec 19 '14 at 17:08

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