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A few hours ago, I won an Announcer (Bronze) badge on Ask Different. The message under achievements tab said:

You've earned the "Announcer" badge (Share a link to a question later visited by 25 unique IP addresses) for "Does USB-C to HDMI take more processing power than direct USB-C to DisplayPort?".

I am a software developer and I understand how the mechanics behind earning this badge work. (Clicking on the Share button beneath the question gives a personalized URL. Hitting the URL will tell the Stack Exchange backend that the URL was visited along with the IP address information.)

Now as I understand, just clicking the Share button (to generate the customized URL), without actually posting the URL anywhere shouldn't work, right? However, I have observed this on couple occasions that I have earned this badge even without sharing the URL externally.

Does simply generating the URL triggers the visit counter corresponding to my user account, so that any new visit to the post is counted against my account? I don't agree with that. However, I have earned Announcer badge couple times that prove otherwise. I have never posted the link elsewhere (except just once, for the sake of earning the badge).

Could this possibly be a bug in the Stack Exchange backend? If yes, this makes for a potential opportunity of gaming the system, where I simply generate the link for popular/hot questions and earn Bronze badges quickly.

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  • Have you been using those share links internally, within the network? – Sonic the Stay-Home Hedgehog Apr 22 '19 at 6:31
  • @SonictheWizardWerehog As far as I recall, I have not shared the link "anywhere". Simply pressed the button and dismissed the dialogue. Make me think it to be some kind of a bug in SE backend. – Nimesh Neema Apr 22 '19 at 6:32
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Your latest badge was from this post - https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/330084/5472 - where you presumably used the “share” control to copy the URL to another post on the site. People or crawlers have followed that link enough to badge you.


Short of that mechanism, on previous occasions, people experiencing this surprise either forgot that they posted the link elsewhere (which might include other Stack Exchange sites; the switch to HTTPS made it harder to keep track of cross-site referrals, so the badge criteria were changed to also include in-network shares whereas they previously didn't), or they 'got lucky' and somebody else shared a link with their user ID somewhere.

I have a bunch of Announcer badges on Stack Overflow I can't remember sharing the link for (except for one case); but somehow they're all in technologies I use, none of them are C++, Python or Visual Basic oriented.

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  • How can someone else get the link with my user ID? (Unless of-course they edit the URL to include my user ID which sounds cumbersome). – Nimesh Neema Apr 22 '19 at 6:34
  • Can it have something to do with the browser specific features (I use Safari 12 which has cross site tracking turned on by default). – Nimesh Neema Apr 22 '19 at 6:35
  • Unless of-course they edit the URL to include my user ID which sounds cumbersome, yes, that's what happens (probably not intentionally). It doesn't happen often, but Stack Exchange has so many active users that most improbable things already happened a few times. – Glorfindel Apr 22 '19 at 6:36
  • You would have been ashamed if you got an announcer badge for a Visual Basic post? – rene Apr 22 '19 at 8:21
  • There’s no security @NimeshNeema - your URL includes your publicly available user ID tacked on to a post so anyone could share “your” link trivially. – bmike Apr 22 '19 at 17:35
  • I’ve edited this post to explain how I think you became notorious this time Nimesh. I also included a share with my account so you can see how my ID is different than yours if you share back to the same post. – bmike Apr 22 '19 at 17:41

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