I think the requirement for the Illuminator Badge should be lower, because:

  • As it stands, it is much harder than the gold Copy Editor badge which is already given for 500 normal edits – not requiring an answer with score >1.
  • The requirement for Refiner is smaller than that for Strunk&White, but the requirement for Illuminator is not smaller than Copy Editor.
  • It is one of the least earned gold badges.

More badges have been changed: For example, Pundit was first leaving 10 comments with 10 upvotes instead of 10 comments with 5 upvotes as it is now.


2 Answers 2


I have noticed and thought previously that the Illuminator badge is too hard to earn.

Some "basic" stats from the top main sites based on activity, traffic and total users and questions:

Main Sites:

  • Stack Overflow: 35 awarded
  • Mathematics: 7 awarded
  • Superuser: 1 awarded
  • 0 awarded on: Code Review; Programmers; Arqade; Serverfault; Ask Ubuntu;


  • 0 awarded on: Stack Overflow; Mathematics; Superuser; MSE; Code Review; Programmers; Arqade; Serverfault; Ask Ubuntu;

Should it be changed?

I think it's obvious based on the above stats that it's "too hard" to earn.
I don't think it's accurate to state "it's just very exclusive" because it's not - exclusive would be at least a handful on each of the main sites.
As it is, it's rarer than rocking horse sh...ampoo.

However, there are a few problems with lowering the threshold (or changing any badge).

  1. It's a bit unfair on the users who have already earned it, because they have quite likely worked very hard over many months (probs years) to earn the badge. It devalues what they had already earned.
  2. People might be working towards earning it now, and it would be annoying having months of work for nothing as they're already past whatever threshold we lower it to.
  3. Changing the threshold means we potentially suddenly give a load of users a badge. Whether this a problem or not I'm not sure, but I'm sure there'll be some negative or problematic issue - at least it's worth mentioning/debating.
  4. Such a badge should be hard to get, otherwise users could perform poor/trivial edits on questions and/or poor answers just to get the badge. Not everyone will, but badges are supposed to encourage good actions, not risk bringing about negative actions to the sites.


It seems it's barely earned even looking at the top sites in the network and their Metas.

Stack Overflow has had great potential for users to have earned this:

  • 4.6 million users to earn it
  • 10 million questions to edit
  • 7 years to earn it over

But only 35 awarded!

Heck, on Stack Overflow there's only 1k users earned refiner, and that's a tenth of the requirement of the Illuminator badge - only 50 edit and answer vs 500!

My conclusion given both the stats and problems with changing it is: not change it.
It is arguably "too" hard to earn, but lowering it will cause too much flack.

  • 5
    2. Months of work for nothing? I disagree, months of working have resulted in a better quality site. When you are a very active user you should realize yourself that.
    – wythagoras
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:53
  • Also, regarding 4. Maybe edits can be trivial, but answers with score >1 aren't really trivial.
    – wythagoras
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 17:54
  • "regarding 4. Maybe edits can be trivial, but answers with score >1 aren't really trivial" well of course not. Just as non-trivial edits are non-trivial. What about answers with a score of <1?
    – James
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 18:06
  • 2
    Is there a way to find out how many users are close to earning it? I'd be interested to see how many users are at, say 75% of the requirement or higher.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 19:52
  • 2
    @Catija at SO, there are 17 users in the category between 400 and 499. Those are the 'close' ones. See data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/297105/…. At MSE the highest score is 139. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 20:39
  • Thanks @PatrickHofman Very helpful. It does seem that there are a reasonable number of people who are close to getting it, at least on SO.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 20:43
  • @Catija indeed. But MSE is disappointing. Other sites even more. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 20:45
  • 1
    "because they have quite likely worked very hard over many months (probs years) to earn the badge" - so, looking at the list of people who have the badge, most of them (all but 12 on SO) got the badge on the same day... which implies that was the day it was created... and that date is Sept. 30th 2014... which makes it seem unlikely that your assertion of "probably years" is correct.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 20:45
  • How long it took aside, on SO in 7 years 35 people have earned it
    – James
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 21:45

Yes, that badge isn't easy to get. Should we change it? No, I don't think so.

I think an important part of the badge system hasn't been mentioned yet. The badge was created to encourage positive behavior that wasn't present yet at the majority of the community. Indeed, some users earned the badge, but that was due to the extensive, ongoing work they have done in the past years.

I remember when the badge was announced I checked my current badge progress on SO and I think I was close to 300/500. Now I am at 400/500. That means that a) the badge works and b) I am getting pretty close.

That work was just a few months of a different mindset: you are not only answering, but also trying to improve the question at hand.

I see that on a lot of small sites it isn't really possible to gain that badge, but so it is with a lot of other badges.

I think it is good this is a very exclusive badge since it stands for an excellent contribution to the site. I don't mind it is harder to get than the Legendary badge, which is pretty exclusive too.

  • Re Stack Overflow - You obtained the stats "17 users in the category between 400 and 499", so lets say in the next 6 months they all earn the badge. Speculation/guesswork aside, that's a total of 52 users out of 4 million. In terms of badges and the fact users should be earning them, that's way beyond being "exclusive". I entirely agree we shouldn't change it, but it is too extreme.
    – James
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:16
  • How long does it take you to get the Legendary badge on SO? Two years? Three? Four? This badge isn't harder. One should have the right attitude and then you will earn it. This is not about reputation, so an answer with one upvote will do to add one to your total number. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:19
  • I was discussing the badge based on it's own merits, not the difficulty of earning another one - that's irrelevant really. The Legendary badge (as we're discussing it) has been earned 193 times, which is still pretty rare, but at least arguably "exclusive" especially considering how many people are "close" (to factor in recent increase in site activity - more users/posts/votes etc)
    – James
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:35
  • It was just to compare them: there are more users 'interested' in reputation than in 'contributing'... At least in this specific scenario. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:40
  • Again, I agree with what you said (as per my answer) but I just disagree that it's just "exclusive". If such badges are to "encourage good behaviour" etc, then it's not doing much if only 35 users have it. But yeah, we can't really change it for various reasons.
    – James
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:42
  • Okay. I agree it is hard, maybe too hard, but let's see it for some longer. It might turn out good eventually. Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:45

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