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I suggest rewarding a silver badge to users with <3k reputation for correctly finding and flagging duplicate questions.

The community would benefit having most part of its users engaged to keep the site clean and organized.

  • Why only users with <3k rep?

    Because they are majority and because usually they do a poorer job finding duplicates than other users (both in amount of duplicates found per user, and closing accuracy). Also, it will be more difficult to game the system because flags need to be reviewed in the queue. Moreover, it will be an incentive for newcomers to pursuit a badge that experienced users won't.

    We want low and medium rep users, especially 'new users' to do a great job in the site, when it comes to moderation activities. Therefore, it makes sense having more rewards (likewise privileges) specifically designed to these folks.

  • Why only duplicates (and not all close reasons)?

    We already have rewards for flagging and reviewing, but finding duplicates is usually more difficult because it does not solely depend on reviewing the target post, it requires searching within the site and reading other posts to compare with.

    While poor and off-topic content is readily and easy to identify, a duplicate can be well written, but still be a duplicate. It will split the content across the site and possibly will deviate future readers from finding the best answer.

  • Possible disadvantages?

    Users with >3k reputation will complain not being eligible for the reward; users can game the system by posting duplicate questions and auto flagging them; the close queue will get even more flooded.

    However, there is also the bright side: for people who like to review there will be more material to work; for users trying to game the system there can be some barriers like making an auto flagging not eligible for the badge; and about the queue, duplicate flags demand a higher effort. If users don't do it right they will get flag bans, which is good.

  • Why a silver badge (not bronze or gold)?

    Because finding duplicates is not trivial (bronze), but it is not also so difficult as receiving 100 upvotes for a question or answer, for example.

    Also, the threshold for finding duplicates should be neither high nor low, because we want a significant amount of users participating and practicing such positive behavior.


So here is the proposal:

Scout (silver): cast 25 duplicate flags on posts which were later closed as duplicates.

I believe it is easy to implement and manage, besides having potential of good return on investment.

  • 1
    Since when did we award people for doing what they should do anyways? – Ramhound Feb 8 '16 at 23:58
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    Since the beginning? – Andre Silva Feb 9 '16 at 0:00
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    +1 I think we need something to encourage duplicate finding over re-answering the same question when it is re-asked – PolyGeo Feb 9 '16 at 0:08
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    I'm still not sure that I understand why it has to be < 3000 rep. I get that it is the target audience, but it should be something everybody does. I think the possible downsides (vocal > 3000 rep individuals, gaming the system because you are approaching 3000 rep, etc) outweigh the benefits of having a badge restricted to certain users. – Thunderforge Feb 9 '16 at 2:52
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    Note that none of the other badges have a reputation limit - so this badge would have to be specially handled. Hence it would probably be easier to leave the rep requirement out. – angussidney Feb 9 '16 at 6:23
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    And what about beta sites? Their close vote privilege requires much less rep. – angussidney Feb 9 '16 at 6:24
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    I am not sure about beta sites. Perhaps either don't make the badge available until it is launched, or make the reputation threshold match users who can't cast close votes. @angussidney. – Andre Silva Feb 9 '16 at 9:12
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    @AndreSilva once again making the badge unavailable would vary from the rest of the badges, requiring special attention. – angussidney Feb 9 '16 at 10:34
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    A lot of the complaints about duplicates revolve around high-rep users who answer instead of closing as duplicate (and more in that Q&A), with the aim of getting more rep from stray upvotes or accepts. Removing the rep limit on this proposed badge would give those users an incentive to close instead of (or at least, after) answering, at least temporarily. – Jeffrey Bosboom Feb 18 '16 at 18:16
  • Closely related (if not a duplicate): meta.stackexchange.com/a/65894/174091 – ivan_pozdeev Mar 14 '16 at 5:06
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+250

This sounds like a great idea to me. I do have a couple of points, though.

As stated (relying on flags), the privilege threshold is not necessary. It's impossible for someone with close-vote privileges to raise close flags, so this badge would scale appropriately to beta sites and not require any special coding for the 3k mark.

A further guard against shenaniganry would be to not count a user's own duplicate questions toward the badge. That way, the only way someone can game it is to use socks —which are already going to get them in trouble— and have their flags go through the regular queue.

Finally, while there aren't many badges that are impossible for certain users to get, there are some. Constable, for example, is not available to anyone who joined after site graduation, and Precognitive becomes unavailable even earlier. Deputy and Marshall are impossible for current moderators to achieve. Tenacious and Unsung Hero become effectively impossible for users with reasonably well-received answers, while on small sites, Generalist and the tag badges are disabled. So adding one more to this short (but possibly incomplete) list is not as bad as it may appear.

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