Poking around the people's profiles to see how the new activity page looks I keep seeing things like this:

0/1 have positive record

It looks strange to have a 25/5 progress on a badge, but the dialog explains that what this user is missing is a positive record of asking. The formula is:

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

If you look at this user's questions, it's hard to see how his asking record could be anything but exceptional. According to SEDE his asking record is 0.875. The problem is that he asked many of his questions in the early days of the site that were well-received, but later deleted. Some were deleted after the question was migrated to another site.

My suggestion is that we change the asking record formula:

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

The early deleted variable counts only questions deleted within 60 days of being asked. I picked 60 days because it's the dividing line between being able to keep reputation and losing it. After looking through the list of people who would get the Curious badge on Stack Overflow with this change, I noticed a few things:

  • Many of them have self-deleted questions on their record. Often these are questions that were asked and basically ignored. After a few months, the original asker went back and deleted their question. It's hard to know what happened in each individual case, but my guess is that they never found a solution to their specific question and worked around the issue instead. (I have a few of those, but I'm not courteous enough to delete them.)

  • These users don't tend to ask the same question over and over again. I ran a similar test that excluded self-deleted questions. That group included a lot of cases of people asking a question, not getting an answer after a day or two, deleting the question, and asking the same question again. This strategy doesn't work if you wait two months to delete your first question.

  • Two mods (George Stocker and Gordon), Tim Post, and myself are on the list of users who would get a Curious badge under this system. On Meta Stack Exchange 5 current employees would be newly eligible for the badge. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, these are curious users.

  • I did some spot check on the lower end of the reputation scale. Every user I looked at fit my model of the ideal recipient of the Curious badge; they asked mostly upvoted questions with few closed questions. This change would add about 3286 new Curious badges on Stack Overflow, so there will certainly be a few exceptions I didn't find. But I think they are more than balanced by the clearly deserving users who will be awarded new badges.

Proposal: For the Curious, Inquisitive, and Socratic badges, don't count questions deleted 60 or more days after asking as deleted for the purposes of calculating asking record. These questions may still count as negatively scored or closed, if applicable. Days that include deleted questions, no matter when they are deleted, do not count toward the days asked criteria.

Modified Proposal: For the Curious, Inquisitive, and Socratic badges, don't count questions deleted or closed 60 or more days after asking as deleted or closed for the purposes of calculating asking record. These questions may still count as negatively scored, if applicable. Days that include deleted or closed questions, no matter when they are deleted or closed, do not count toward the days asked criteria.

On Stack Overflow, that would add about 665 Curious badges, including two more for moderators (casperOne and 0x7fffffff) and one for an employee (Oded). On the opposite end of the reputation scale my spot checks are a bit muddier. Instead of a small number of deleted (and usually closed) questions, this list turns up users whose latest questions still aren't all that interesting. Even so, on balance a few extraneous bronze badges seem worthwhile in exchange for acknowledging truly curious users.

  • Just btw, you are browsing dev-only page, because this new activity page is rolled out only on Meta, while you are seeing it on SO :) When will this page be rolled out on SO? – nicael Mar 12 '15 at 19:26
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    Would it make sense to apply the 60-day timeframe to closures too? As in, only count the closure against them if it was closed within 60 days of posting the question? It sounds just as unfair to count questions against users that were asked long ago and the scope or quality requirements changed since they were asked. – animuson Mar 12 '15 at 19:32
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    To add to @animuson's comment, it also happens that perfectly well-posed questions get closed as duplicates of newer questions if those newer questions receive a more canonical/comprehensive answer. (Which is another argument for discounting questions closed after 60 days.) – Martin Ender Mar 12 '15 at 21:25
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    @animuson: I updated the question to reflect your idea. It makes a great deal of sense. – Jon Ericson Mar 12 '15 at 23:45
  • What about duplicates in general? Are they going to count as closures? While there are certainly bad duplicates (poorly asked or poorly researched), there are certainly good duplicates as well. It would be a shame to punish someone because they asked a good duplicate. – psubsee2003 Mar 13 '15 at 12:28
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    @psubsee2003: We considered making an exception for duplicates when this was originally proposed. From what I've seen looking at how this badge has worked, I don't think we need that exception. Good askers tend to ask unique questions and the occasional "oops" duplicate doesn't hurt that much. But there are a number of people (especially on Stack Overflow) who ask the same question day after day. – Jon Ericson Mar 13 '15 at 15:07
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    Just out of curiosity (har har), did this change just happen? It seems myself and a few others suddenly received badges in this series in the last couple hours despite having no question activity for quite some time. – Jason C Mar 20 '15 at 0:10
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    @JasonC: Yes. I believe Jarrod implemented the modified proposal that excluded deleted and closed questions older than 60 days. – Jon Ericson Mar 20 '15 at 0:20
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    The formula you give is equivalent to downvoted + closed + deleted <= 0.5 * total_votes. Maybe give that as an equivalent measure? – Joe Z. Mar 20 '15 at 0:35
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    @JoeZ.: Total votes doesn't play into the formula. Maybe you meant total_questions? If so, yes, that's equivalent. Conceptually it's a ratio of "good" questions to total questions. (Well, sorta. A downvoted, closed and deleted question is triple voted.) The goal of the criteria is to prevent certain types of abuse. One idea we had was to not penalize for self-deleted questions, but that doesn't work since some people ask a question, delete it if it's not answered, and ask again. Those folks aren't really "curious" so much as persistent. – Jon Ericson Mar 20 '15 at 0:43
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    Sorry, yes, I meant total_questions. The reason I ask is because I had a somewhat hard time wrapping my head around a ratio that involved total_questions in the numerator and denominator, and I believe my formulation has the potential for less confusion because all the variables are independent. – Joe Z. Mar 20 '15 at 0:46
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    Secondly, you're not entirely correct in that question when you say it takes three new, issue-less questions to dig yourself out of the triple-count. It actually takes five (plus the original three-strike question, for a total of six), since each new issue-less question only balances out 0.5 counts against the record, if you look at my version of the formula. – Joe Z. Mar 20 '15 at 0:59
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    At the very least can the badge show you how close you are to a positive question record? Right now it just says "need positive question record" which is really annoying: stackoverflow.com/users/2197700/anubian-noob?tab=topactivity – Anubian Noob Apr 20 '15 at 17:46

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