I have some ideas for gamifying the process instead of just giving rep incentives and would like to know where the potential holes are for promoting exploitation of badges/reputation. Each one of these suggestions have the goals of:
- Reduce existing duplicates that have not yet been identified
- Reduce rep-hunting against low-hanging dupe-fruit
- Identify users who answer duplicates
I don't like the idea of awarding reputation points for these kinds of things, but I also know that reputation is a valuable metric to many users, so many of these potential suggestions are more geared towards badges than rep.
Potential Name: Death by a thousand cuts
Purpose: A hard-to-achieve badge to encourage dupe-hunting
Tiers: 1; metal-grade, flexible (probably gold)
Unlocked with: 1,000 questions closed as duplicates by actions of the user
Rationale: Whether they're normal users or moderators, this is something that can be worked towards over time to better the site(s).
Potential Name: Justice never sleeps
Purpose: Cleaning out the old dupes that snuck past us already
Tiers: 3, threshold values flexible
Bronze Tier 1 Unlocked with: 1 question closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question older than 6 months
Silver Tier 2 Unlocked with: 25 questions closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question older than 6 months
Gold Tier 3 Unlocked with: 500 questions closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question older than 6 months
Rationale: Even old dupes can hurt. If we encourage badge-hunters to start from the back and work their way up, it could have the nice effect of not overlapping badge-hunters with users just trying to do the right thing as they come across them.
My hope with these two badges is that anyone looking to do badge-hunting with these will try to tackle both the backlog of dupes while not completely ignoring incoming dupes.
Also, with the thresholds being so high, the more people that participate will make it harder to achieve them, making these eventually a sort of status-symbol badge for those who threw themselves to the task, first.
I'm not sure what all is in place for #2, so these are less concrete gamifications than conceptual musings.
Are we already taking away earned reputation from upvoted answers to questions closed as duplicates? If not, I think we should revisit the idea. This is a very straight-forward way to stop #2, but I admit that it is quite rep-invasive. Maybe a 24-48 hour window for losing rep while an alternative addresses potential dupes in that window.
The alternative might be to freeze rep-acquisition for all answers as soon as the question is flagged as a potential duplicate; this would be invisible to most users until actually marked as a duplicate, if I understand it correctly. Upvotes would still "count" but the user getting the upvote only gets the rep if the flag ends up not being accurate.
Another potential dupe penalty if not already enforced is decrementing the tag's badge score increase when the question is closed as a dupe. I'm pretty sure that only applies to accepted answers, but the psychological price would still be there.
With or without rep changes, I think next badge can might help with #2
I'm a big fan of this next badge, as it rewards casual and hardcore reviewers with different tiers with timing and quantity instead of just quantity. I think it's a potential candidate for a new set of badges across SE regardless of how you feel about the rest of my suggestions.
Potential Name: Quick-Draw
|| The Fastest Gun in the West
Purpose: Reduce new duplicates, encourage review-queues, encourage experienced/knowledgeable users to find existing answers instead of re-answering them
Tiers: 3, threshold values flexible
Bronze Tier Unlocked with: 1 question closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question less than 6 hours old
Silver Tier Unlocked with: 100 questions closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question less than 3 hours old
Gold Tier Unlocked with: 1,000 questions closed as duplicate by actions of the user for a question less than 1 hour old
Potential Name: Good Intentions
|| Paving the Road to Hell
Purpose: Identify users capitalizing on answering dupes while not exactly calling them dunces, rep-moochers, or menaces
Tiers: 1, a new one each time it occurs
Bronze Tier Unlocked with: Had an accepted (and/or up-voted) answer for a question that was closed as a duplicate
Rationale: An accepted answer to even a duplicate question added value somewhere, but not the kind of value that SE wants to encourage. The more badges a person has of this, the more that it will stick out by sheer count compared to other badges for people that make a habit of doing this kind of rep-hunting against low-hanging fruit likely already addressed in another question
I'd like to point out or at least disclose that I have a bad habit of doing #3; I never do it on purpose, but knowing that I would be getting something like this would encourage me to look for existing answers even more thoroughly instead of blindly answering something that I know off-hand.
Some might be asking why the emphasis on people contributing to dupes and dupe-hunting instead of penalizing the people writing the dupes in the first place. My rationale is this: getting downvoted and your question closed is fairly demoralizing as it is. It has happened to me several times, and each time it does I get more encouraged to research further before asking. I really don't think this aspect of tackling dupes can be improved by much, as the Similar Question mechanic when writing out a new question I feel works fairly well, at least for me.