The Reversal badge:

Provide an answer of +20 score to a question of -5 score. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

There are multiple issues about discouraging Fast Gun In The West (FGITW) and on SO meta and answering low quality questions and on SO meta.

Rewarding users for answering a question with minus 5 downvotes is usually encouraging this type of behaviour. The exception being when a question is downvoted for being off topic and then edited into a decent question. As evidenced by The Lost Worlds of the Reversal Badge, this is not the usual case — instead, more than half the questions are eventually deleted!

Can we archive the Reversal badge on main sites and keep it only for meta sites?

Also added SO only request Can we retire the Reversal badge on SO, not meta?, based on this Get rid of the Reversal badge which has overwhelming support on SO, but has not been actioned. hint hint

  • 6
    Or maybe limit it to meta?
    – Catija
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 4:32
  • 7
    related: Get rid of the Reversal badge at MSO. "...How about this: Reversal is changed to require that the question have -5 score when the answer is posted, the answer gets +20, and the question later (possibly with edits) reaches +5 score. These criteria should prevent it from ever being awarded for answering true garbage."
    – gnat
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 7:25
  • @gnat it still encourages people to answer rubbish, I think it's best to avoid it and perhaps offer people a badge for a posts that undergo a reversal from -5 to a positive value generally.
    – user310756
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:03
  • 3
    to an extent yes, it still feels somewhat prone to abuse (though of course less than current way). Thing is though, it makes a subtle but important point encouraging people to look more thoroughly of what's there behind wall of text. You know I frequently do cleaning up edits to questions that look like rubbish. Primary purpose is to save other voters effort in deciphering what specifically is wrong in the question. But what I regularly (though not often) find out is that such a cleanup reveals a solid, original, on-topic question so that I revert/retract my original votes on it...
    – gnat
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:18
  • 1
    ...and that is what stroke me in that suggestion of additional minus-to-plus requirement. I hope it will encourage cleaning up of salvageable questions and, which looks particularly promising, will focus efforts of the right kind of folks - the answerers, those who think they understood the "scrambled" question well enough to answer
    – gnat
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:19
  • 3
    @gnat Your proposal would not just encourage answering rubbish, it would encourage answering and upvoting / calling to upvote rubbish. Yes im cynical.
    – Magisch
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:40
  • 2
    @Magisch for the sake of proper attribution, proposal is not mine but one of Ben Voigt and (adjusted version) by Shog. Your cynicism looks reasonable to me but per my reading of their criteria, badge hunters will easily find out that tricks like this don't work - single answerer's upvote won't transfer question from -5 to +5 (from -3 to +3 as in Shog's version)
    – gnat
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:45
  • 1
    There's a great middle ground here. I don't think retiring it is entirely necessary, especially on the smaller sites. So, why not limit it to only meta sites? It makes much more sense to answer low-voted questions there; moderators end up doing it a lot.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 22:37
  • 1
    We resolved this by retiring it everywhere. In many ways, it's less useful on meta since so many of the answers that get the badge are deleted sometime later. Better to encourage people to fix the question if possible. Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 22:53
  • @JonEricson I’m Ahead of my time :)
    – user310756
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 4:28

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I have the Reversal badge but only on a site meta.

Yes, let's get rid of it. Gold badges are generally intended to be awarded when someone does something great for the site. Many users miss out on their second Reversal badge because their first badge-qualifying answer is already deleted along with its question. So it looks like it's just a gold badge for an individually impressive accomplishment, not something that helps the site. In themselves, badges celebrating individual accomplishments that do nothing directly for the site aren't bad (cf. Fanatic), but if they start materially affecting site quality, they need to be dropped like a hot potato. Requiring multiple users to close and then delete a question that's not good enough to stick around even with a +20 answer is bad for moderation loads — the Roomba should be handling such low-quality questions on its own without delvotes and possibly without close votes — and it sure doesn't help site quality any.

Its original purpose — encouraging bringing clarity to bad questions to turn them around — is arguably better performed with far fewer negative side effects by the newer Illuminator series of badges, or the proposals for a badge that require the question to hit a positive score after the answer is posted.

What's more, the existence of this badge is frequently taken as a proof that freely answering bad questions is part of site culture and should not be discouraged, even if those answers systemically harm site quality. So, Reversal is a broken window. A gold badge nominally for quality that actively reduces quality and distorts policy decisions. A celebration of easy upvotes over careful moderation.

Burn it with fire and salt the ground.


I'm very sorry to say but I disagree. Disclosure: I was the first to ever get this badge on Ask Ubuntu

And this is not because I was the first to obtain such a badge on Ask Ubuntu, but because of the history of the original question: it spawned a follow-up meta question here by the top moderator of Ask Ubuntu asking a profound question on how we should interact with the human beings behind the avatars...

I'm one of these old farts who still believes in the basic goodness of humanity and in talking to people first and only when all else fails send them to the corner downvote their question/answer but only if they persevere in their foolishness.

I agree that the list here doesn't really show stellar questions, but retiring the reversal badge will retire it from the entire Stack Exchange network!

So, please: don't throw away the baby with the bath water¹?

¹ E.G. by accepting this as an answer??? 😉

  • 2
    While I agree with the overall point of this answer, I don't understand the explanation at all. What does the "goodness of humanity" have to do with the Reversal badge?
    – hichris123
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 2:06
  • 2
    This seems to be defending the intended purpose of the badge, which is generally agreed to be a nice idea, rather than the actual effects of the current implementation, which many SE users object to. Commented May 29, 2016 at 2:27
  • For the smaller sites yes it may be ok, but as they grow you may find that you have the same issues as SO with this badge, or maybe not. I still find the underlying principle not good, although I hear what you're saying. I could just ask for this on SO meta.
    – user310756
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 2:36
  • 1
    OK I unaccepted the accepted answer so that we can let the community decide by floating the answers with votes. also cc @NathanTuggy
    – user310756
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 2:46
  • 4
    @Yvette that's not how it works, i.e. it won't have any real meaning. You can accept the answer that match your own opinion the most, SE team won't really look in the order of answers or even their score when considering a request. Commented May 29, 2016 at 9:22
  • @Yvette: I agree with above: only if I made you change your mind should you change the acceptance...
    – Fabby
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 21:11
  • @Fabby I don't think the request will be granted either way. Not enough support and the team won't stomp on all the sites for the sake of one site's wishes. See my updated question, hopefully the powers that be will do something for SO.
    – user310756
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 4:22
  • @Yvette: seeing how the voting looks like a split anyway, doing nothing would be what I would do if I were an SE employee... (Sorry)
    – Fabby
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 8:51
  • @Fabby I totally agree, I didn't see this as being accepted.
    – user310756
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 8:59

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