Nice idea, but problematic tracking....
Surprise badges are nice when they arrive, like "whoo hoo, popular question!", but for almost all badges, there is a user-queryable mechanism for tracking your progress to the badge:
- you can see the score you have on posts, and track that "great answer"
- You can watch the populist happen
- you can see reversal
Badges where you cannot track your progress tend to be the ones with the most problems:
- Socratic - you can't see old deleted questions of your own
- Publicist - how effective was that tweet?
This "Red Baron" badge will be the same. How will you know how close you are? You cannot search for answers you wrote to questions that had a score of -3 or less at the time the answer was given
Perhaps a feaure should be added that indicates on each answer what the question score was at the time the answer was posted.... . hmmm...
About the importance of tracking
I wonder if you might expand on why tracking progress is so important that we might skip a badge that can't be tracked.
Specific to this badge
Let's consider the mechanics of this proposed badge:
- find a (community-perceived) crappy question
- answer it
- perhaps 'fix' the question
- get votes for both the question, and the answer
- Profit ???
What we don't want is people answering crappy questions just because they are crappy. We want crappy questions to just disappear, and be deleted. A half-decent answer on a crappy question makes the deletion much less likely (requires community votes - instead of automatic).
The purpose of this badge is (should be) to reward people who turn around bad questions and make them good (in addition to answering them well). The purpose is not to encourage people to answer (m)any old bad question and hope that one of them may get a badge.
OK, so you want to reward people who make bad questions good, not reward people who answer many bad questions in the hope that one of them miraculously becomes good. The reward is for providing a good answer and most importantly, for nursing the question back to health.
Consider three user-types on SE:
- the user who does not care about badges, who unwittingly stumbles over a poor question, answers it, and then unwittingly gets upvoted, and gets the badge. This user is not affected by the badge until afterwards, and the badge did not modify their behaviour
- the opportunist who targets bad questions, and answers as many as they can in the hopes that one will result in a badge. This is behaviour we want to discourage. This user will have a search set up for
score:-5..-3 is:q answers:0..1 hasaccepted:0 closed:0 views:..100 and then just answer as many as they can. No point in answering anything worse than -5... too much luck needed when there's plenty of -3's out there.
- the hunter, who decides to identify and repair broken questions. This user will actively find 'diamond in the rough' questions, answer them, repair them, continue to nurse them, and get justly rewarded for the effort put in to the process.
The first and second types of user are not deserving of the reward. Hmm, 'deserving' is the wrong word, they deserve the badge, but they did not earn the badge by behaving in the intended way. They did not satisfy the 'spirit' of the badge. The first type of user is not influenced by the badge at all. The second is influenced in the wrong way. Remember, this is a gold badge, demanding outstanding effort. The third type of user is deserving. How do you encourage the third-type of behaviour?
First, the user has to know what to nurse. I have answered about 1400 questions on the SE network, the first thing I would like to know is which of those answered questions is a candidate for the badge. Which questions can I go back to now, to edit, improve, tweet, bounty, etc. in order to get a reward for desired effort I already did in the past, that just needs a bit more tweaking? Which answers from the past can be edited, improved a bit, etc. in order to make them worthy of more votes?
So, without tracking, I can't identify items from the past that are candidates, but, I can still identify items in the present. I can find crap questions now, and answer them? But, that puts me dangerously close to user-2 type behaviour... just answer crap, and hope it comes right. Perhaps I will make an improving edit to the question, and make it half-decent. But, to be properly a type-3 user, I would need to keep a log somewhere of questions that need nursing, or answers that need improving.
That 'nursing' part is the most important part. Consider AirThomas's meta question on Stack Overflow where he admitted he put a 200-rep bounty on the question to try to give it a "second first impression". I see nothing wrong with that, but, how did he know which question to bounty? By keeping a 'log' (sure, of only 1 question).
This badge will require people to monitor their past activity to identify which questions are candidates for nursing, and where to spend their extra effort. It will require that future activity is directed to the right sorts of questions, and that the user 'owns' the quality of both the question and the answer.
Without the tracking, it will just encourage fire&forget answers on crappy questions in the shotgun hopes that some (one) will just miraculously happen.
General tracking comments
Different people are motivated by different goals. I personally am motivated by a target, and like to measure my progress. Targets that have no measurable progress tend to demotivate me, and I pick a better target to aim for. Socratic is a badge that does not really mean much to me... it's too hard to measure progress, and there's too much uncertainty. I can't see all my deleted content, so I can never measure how far away the goal is. Additionally, it is just too hard to do the math on 100 questions to see id any were asked on the same day, etc. Not even the data explorer can help with that badge.
Badges that are intended to reward ongoing beneficial user behaviour should all be trackable so that users can monitor when their behaviour is helping, and when to adjust their course.