A gold badge for a tag gives a user additional review power, to help manage low-quality questions having that tag.
At https://stackoverflow.com/help/badges?tab=tags&filter=gold, we see that there are many tags with only one person having a gold tag.
Wouldn't it help site quality, if the formula took into account the total popularity of a tag? Presumably on any tag, there are a handful of people "most expert" on that topic - even if the topic itself isn't popular enough for them to reach 1000 score (about 10K) rep on 200 answers.
Some ideas for alternative criteria:
- Top "N" scorers for answers of a tag.
- Threshold adjusted based on tag popularity. Would make sense to have a "sliding scale", with some minimum. E.g. the least popular tags might still require 200 score on 100 answers. (If no one has that much, then it probably isn't a very useful tag - perhaps its a variant of a more popular tag.)
Possible downside: will this make it "too easy" to get gold privileges on some tags?
Idea to minimize downside: Minimum reputation requirement, perhaps 5K total rep?
One question that comes to mind is whether the badge would be "taken away" if the tag becomes more popular over time, thus the badge holder no longer "meets the criteria". I say "No" - once you have a badge you always keep it. Taking it away would be hurtful, and serve no useful purpose: if someone was an expert early in the lifetime of a tag, its good to reward them / encourage them to stay active.
Note that I'm not thinking about tags with very few questions. They would fall below the minimum threshold.
I'm more interested in the "middle ground". There are quite a few "niche" tags that have a few thousand questions; not a hundred thousand or a million questions, like the top few tags. Very important tags to those using them; just not a ton of programmers that do.
Independently of any privileges gained, I think it would be worthwhile “recognition” of those knowledgeable about a topic.
It doesn’t feel right that a handful of early answers on a very common topic gets one most of the way to a gold badge, whereas the top three answerers on a niche product may still never qualify for a gold badge.
This suggests a possible alternative criteria: the position one has within top answerers for a tag, could contribute over time towards a gold badge.