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From what I realize, badges are used for promotion and as a sign of recognition of a certain useful activity. However, I cannot understand the purpose of some badges that seem to encourage to lower the quality of the posts, namely:

  • Peer Pressure
    Delete own post with score of -3 or lower

    To me, it's correcting own mistakes that should be rewarded, not posting of nonsense with subsequent deletion. It would make more sense if this badge were awarded if the question initially scored −3 would eventually become, let's say, +3 upon improvements by the author (possibly with the guidance in the comments).

    Similar issue with this badge was already raised on SO.Meta: The Peer Pressure badge seems to invite bad posts, is that so?

  • Unsung Hero
    Zero score accepted answers: more than 10 and 25% of total

    From what I observed, this golden badge is often received by the users who leave comment-alike answers consisting of a couple of sentences which sort of address the question, but are by no means comprehensive or demonstrate ingenuity, hence lack of either positive of negative votes (or approximately equivalent number of both). Quite often users who post such answers target questions from the newcomers with 1 rep point who would post a trivial question, and cannot vote yet.

    These answers get accepted simply because OP doesn't know better, doesn't want to show the lack of gratitude or there is no other answers since the question isn't that interesting (or a duplicate altogether).

This would be purely my own observations being an active user for over two years (currently, a moderator) of a relative small Chemistry.SE community. Is there something I fundamentally misunderstand about these two badges, or maybe they have a different effect on other network sites?

9

When I joined SE the first site I answered on was CrossValidated. After a while I went back over all the unanswered questions in one of the tags (meta-analysis) in which I have some expertise to try to answer them if possible. I do not think they were low quality answers although almost certainly not as good as I would do now. Some were up-voted. The questions I answered probably were from rep +1 users but then so are most of the questions on that site. Eventually I got the Unsung Hero badge.

I also note that of the 22 people who currently have that badge on CrossValidated most are fairly high-rep users by the standards of CV.

I am not a great fan of the badge and reputation system as a whole but I do not think Unsung Hero is less justifiable than many of the others.

9

Double misconception methinks. At least partially. Any public policy that "measures" what humans do influences how the measured humans act in the future. Meaning: those two badges can motivate people do learn something, and do something positive. Or a person just wants to collect some badge, and well, does whatever it takes to get there. From that point of view, I see positive aspects for both these badges:

Regarding peer pressure:

To me, it's correcting own mistakes that should be rewarded,

Deleting an off-topic question is exactly that: correcting a mistake yourself.

It is annoying when newbies write up bad questions. Worse, it then takes

  • the required amount of downvotes
  • the required amount of close votes (that drop from 5 to 3: so nice)
  • the required amount of delete votes

to remove the garbage question from the community.

Now step back for a second, and imagine that the OP who wrote that downvoted post ... simply comes in and deletes the post themself. That spares the community that collecting/waiting for close/delete votes!

I very much prefer newbies who remove their mess themselves, instead of leaving it (again!) to the more experienced community members to remove said sad content. If they do that once, and earn that badge, maybe that tells them to just do that: remove "bad" content quickly. Sometimes you just get it wrong, and then deletion is the best solution.

About unsung hero:

These answers get accepted simply because OP doesn't know better, doesn't want to show the lack of gratitude or there is no other answers since the question isn't that interesting (or a duplicate altogether)

Not necessarily! There are tags on certain networks that have really small view counts. Fewer views means: fewer good answers, and fewer people to vote.

Thus, that badge can be a good thing. Because it might go out to people who

A) write answers to newbie questions on tags with very few readers

B) provide helpful (accepted!) content

So, why not appreciate people writing answers knowing that most likely, only a few upvotes or just a single accept will come back?!

I have seen plenty of "unsung hero" holders who are exactly that: unsung heros. Helping a lot of people for a thin reward.

6

You didn't misunderstand anything.

Answers on the linked question about Peer Pressure include a rationale that a user did improve things if they deleted their very low quality answer. I'd tend to agree with you that this is not a situation to be encouraged (& rewarding it is borderline at best), but hey that's just like our opinions man.

Unsung Hero has always bothered me. It's as you say. I guess the intention was to "compensate" these authors for not receiving upvote rep, perhaps on the assumption that this would usually be due to residency in quiet, esoteric tags. Otherwise, it's just another case of "everyone's awesome/great and deserving of praise/reward! (even when they're not)".

  • 3
    Removing bad answers does improve the signal to noise ratio on the site which seems to be a good thing. And it's not like you can farm the badge without taking an express train to answer-ban-ville. – Rubiksmoose Jan 8 at 16:37
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    @Rubiksmoose Yep, difference between "encouraging the deletion of crap posts", and "encouraging the creation and then deletion of crap posts", and "rewarding the creation and then deletion of crap posts". There is the intent of badges and then there is the natural consequence of their existence. I suspect this entire thing is a result of some conflation between the two... – Lightness Races BY-SA 3.0 Jan 8 at 16:47
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    @Rubiksmoose Fair point about the bans though. – Lightness Races BY-SA 3.0 Jan 8 at 16:48

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