Like everyone else I've been reading bobince's outbreak about parsing html with regex with great amusement. When I read in the comments that bobince had been awarded two gold badges (html and regex) for this single post, something occured to me. What would happen if I edited the question and added another tag? Unable to resist the urge I appended the "parsing" tag to the OP.

It took a few hours, but sure enough. bobince is now proud owner of the gold medal "parsing" badge. That means that we currently have a mechanism that allows any owner of a 1000+ votes post to receive any tag gold badge they'd like, and even funnier is the fact that anyone else can reward them with an arbitrary gold medal.

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    Maybe this is how that coveted Generalist badge will be gained/gamed.
    – random
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:14
  • After posting this, Emil, bobince's answer will get locked soon :) Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:21
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    I'd add a plzsendtehcodez tag.
    – alex
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:55
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    I forsee him getting gold "Ponies", "jon-skeet", and "waffles" badges.
    – Tom Ritter
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:57
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    +1 for scientific experimentation. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:45
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    did i miss something? how'd he get 1700 upvotes in nine days? what drew so many people to the post?
    – Kip
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 15:05
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    @Kip: Jeff posted an link on Coding Horror. codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001311.html It was like catnip for nerds. :) Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 15:09
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    Heh. Yes, if you added the tag just to test the system please do remove it and have ♦ fix as necessary... I wouldn't mind having a gold ponies badge though.
    – bobince
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 16:32
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    He could have the only gold "beta" badge! Or a "Founder" badge like Jeff and Joel were going to have! Or a "bobince" badge of awesomeness! Or just an "awesome" badge! The possibilities are endless!
    – mmyers
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 17:15
  • @bobince, I've removed the tag. Let's see if it disappears by itself during some nightly batch job or something. Otherwise, I'm sure that someone with database access who sees this can remove it if you really want to get rid of that extra gold badge. :)
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 18:22
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    @Emil H - As far as I'm aware (based on the discussion in this thread and elsewhere) the badge won't really go away. The SO badge system checks for badges being earned, but not being kept. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 18:48
  • @CMNC, Yeah, I don't think it will disappear automatically either.
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 19:05
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    If you really want to be cruel to bobince you can add a downvote-me tag to the question. It's like an SO-badge version of a "kick me" sign! Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 21:20
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is now a minimum-answer requirement for tag badges, which wasn't implemented in response to this question; this one was just resolved in a quick-and-dirty manner. Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 9:08
  • Darn. Someone should've added the deadpool tag before this got fixed.
    – user474678
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 23:55

8 Answers 8


Good point -- I converted it to wiki. Though I think everyone involved deserved the rep and badges they got thus far, without the Parsing badge..

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    You are NO FUN AT ALL, you know that?
    – mmyers
    Commented Nov 19, 2009 at 15:15
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    Will they lose the rep in a recal? Commented Dec 4, 2009 at 20:30

I'd just like to point out that I alone prophesied that this sort of thing could happen months ago in a post on uservoice.

Alas, no one listened, and now you have only yourselves to blame! Oh, the horror! Your hubris has caused something to be wrong on the internets! We are all done for!!!

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    I wish I could +1000 this and change the tags on this question to [time-traveler] or something actually funny
    – John Rasch
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 16:17
  • Voted up to +3. Only 997 to go...
    – mmyers
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 17:13
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    We should add and remove the [2012] tag to the question, since bobince obviously represents the apocalypse. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 17:38
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    @Changing: At the very least we need to make sure his answer ends up with 2012 votes. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 17:46
  • I agree. I've already contributed my best efforts. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 18:05
  • Well done. Doesn't it feel good to see that you were right, though? :)
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 18:24
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    I added the "fulfilled-prophecy" tag in your honor. I envision it'll take a while before you have 1000 votes, though.
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 18:32
  • Obligatory wrong on the internets link: xkcd.com/386 Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 1:48
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    +1 for a predicatively appropriate user name...
    – Patrick M
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 16:56

I agree with Adam here (I even up-voted his answer). The number of times this would be a problem doesn't warrant the effort it would take to fix.

Under normal conditions an answer would probably be converted to CW long before it reached the 400, let alone 1000, vote mark. I've just checked and there are no other 400+ vote answers that aren't community wiki (votes:400 wiki:0)

This has also highlighted a bug. bobince hasn't got the silver 400 vote badges for [regex] and [parsing] yet. He had previously earned the [html] silver badge.

If you check the silver regex and the gold regex you'll see one user in each and they're different! There's not even a silver parsing page.

  • Can we revisit this? This is simply no longer true. stackoverflow.com/search?q=votes%3A1000+wiki%3A0
    – user247611
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 4:36
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    @Miles The badge rules have been tightened up since these answers were posted. You can no longer get a tag badge from a single answer. You need 20 for the bronze badge alone.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 9:17

In principle, this is a problem. In practice, there are only four posts with 1000+ votes, and the other three (besides this one) are all CW.

I'm not sure what the best way to fix this would be that is still fair. I have an ugly feeling this will fall into the edgecase/wontfix bin.

  • Yeah, I realize that there's very few 1000+ posts. Still, stackoverflow will hopefully be around for many, many years. Some answers accumulate more votes with time, so who knows how many such posts there'll be in 10 years? :) I agree that it isn't a very urgent problem. Just thought it'd be worth mentioning.
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:30
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    On the other hand... This will no doubt work for silver badges with 400+ votes as well. There's a lot of those.
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 12:53
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    @Emil: Good point. I agree it's a problem, but unless you can think of a sensible and simple way to prevent it, I can virtually guarantee it will not be addressed by the dev team. Worse problems with simpler solutions have lingered for longer. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:43
  • @Emil: Actually, if you check ChrisF's response, you can see that there are, in fact, no other 400+ vote answers that aren't CW either. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:44
  • Ok, fair point. :)
    – Emil H
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:46
  • my "256 is a nice round number" answer is almost there! (stackoverflow.com/questions/164556). in fact, it would be over 1000 votes except for the fact that everyone tried to hold it down to exactly 256 votes for so long. :) (102 downvotes as of last data dump- meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11022)
    – Kip
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 15:12
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    Whoa, I had no idea you could search like that. Awesome.
    – matt b
    Commented Nov 19, 2009 at 3:31

To everyone suggesting that this problem doesn't really matter because there just aren't many 1000+/400+ answers, note that tag score also matters for the (arguably more important) tag synonym system.

Feel like proposing/voting on tag synonyms, but don't have the necessary tag score? If you've got an answer with score 5, you're good to go! Add the desired tag, wait until you're credited for it, then propose/vote to your heart's content! With a few similarly situated friends you can even get that synonym approved immediately!


If you suspect tag abuse, flag the question and a moderator will deal with it. Given that there are few of them, this doesn't require a technical solution, and if the abuse gets bad then the question can be locked.


At most, he will just gain 5 golden badges for 5 tags. Still, I wonder... If someone would remove a tag, would he lose a badge again?

I think it's quite exceptional when someone gains 1000 votes with one answer. That should be worth a badge per tag. :-) (Basically, a golden badge for at least every 200 votes.)

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    Badges aren't normally lost (the [beta] badge being an exception)
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 13:24
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    If the question is edited with new tags every few hours, there is no limit to the number of badges he will get.
    – user27414
    Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:12
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    As I understand it, if you remove a tag to make space for the new tag, the system will award the new badge, not remove the old badge, but also not update the count, because it knows he's "short" one now. So he'll get at most 5 badges added to the count, but a potentially unlimited number shown in his profile. Commented Nov 18, 2009 at 14:59
  • I think tag badges do get removed. Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 4:43

I was going to do a similar experiment .. I was going to edit 50 questions and insert an arbitrary tag to see if I'd win the 'taxonomist' badge.

It seemed a little destructive to do as an experiment, so I didn't do it .. but would still be interested in knowing if it would have worked.


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