Several badges are effectively a "negative" tag on a user. For example, Peer Pressure is a permanent mark that a user had a post with unusually high numbers of downvotes at one point; the fact that they deleted it may be encouraging, but if they'd baited other users to delete it (or better still, edited it so that it attracted upvotes to cancel out the downvotes), there'd be no such black mark in the user's profile.
There are some other similar badges:
- the Fanatic family (indicating that a user wastes time on Stack Exchange continuously rather than taking breaks), which could potentially cause problems for future employment (I know that I intentionally have to take a break every now and then rather than risk getting anywhere near being awarded the badge, in case it causes trouble for me in future);
- Famous Question, on many sites, is an indicator that you submitted a question that's excessively subjective and not a good fit for the site (these questions tend to get more views), and the badge can be followed to find the offending question in question;
- Promotor/Investor without a matching Altruist/Benefactor can give the impression that you don't award bounties, making your future bounties less valuable (and can happen naturally if no answers are given to the question); this is a lesser issue because it's not permanent, but it can still be an issue temporarily
- Tumbleweed implies that a user has asked a low (but not "very low") quality, uninteresting question, which is typically a bad thing
- The Publicist family implies that a user has used Stack Exchange referral links; this is (perhaps unsurprisingly) seen very negatively by many people outside Stack Exchange
Finally, the badge that prompted me to ask this question:
- Scholar, on a site where accepting answers is deemed to actively drive away users from the site (source: 1 2)
I recently accidentally misclicked on an "accept" button (on my own solution, at that!), and got the Scholar badge, even though I've been arguing that accepting answers is a bad thing for the Code Golf site (basically because we expect every question to have multiple good answers, and accepting one makes other people feel like their contributions aren't wanted), and although I undid the accept as soon as I realised, the badge is now stuck there permanently, making me look somewhat hypocritical. (I guess I could delete and recreate my account; getting back to 20k rep might be fun. However, it would likely cause confusion as a result of all the disassociated posts, and I'm not keen on causing that much harm to the site.)
I can see several potential fixes to this problem: allowing users to opt out of receiving specific badges just like they can opt out of receiving Winter Bash hats; allowing users to recalculate their badges to remove ones that they no longer meet conditions for (thus allowing users to redeem themselves from, say, Peer Pressure or Scholar badges, although probably not Fanatic); or at least warning users before they do something that will gain a badge that they may not want. Do we need to do something to deal with this problem? If so, what should it be?