If high-schoolers or other eligible individuals wish to amass community service hours by participating in Stack Exchange sites on a volunteer basis, is there/can we implement a mechanism by which those (approximate) hours can be verified?

Perhaps a semi-official "You've spent this much time here and answered X questions" certificate from the site? Or would by-site moderator verification requests be more appropriate? Also if anyone has any ideas on how to track time spent participating, that would be appreciated.

  • 2
    +1 That said, I'm not sure exactly how that would work. I, for example, when solving someone's issue on Ask Ubuntu, might try some things out on a local machine, write it out in my markdown editor of choice, and only then copy-paste it into Ask Ubuntu. So I'm not really sure how Stack Exchange would verify that type of off-site answer writing. Side note: would getting some amount of rep (say, IDK, 2k) be acceptable to your school? That may be easier, as SE can't practically verify troubleshooting or testing things in, say, a terminal, as those actions aren't within SE.
    – cocomac
    Apr 18 at 0:01
  • 1
    This is bad idea, way too easy to abuse. The official answer (by staff member) explain it well. Apr 18 at 6:27
  • What is the point?
    – philipxy
    Apr 18 at 11:55

3 Answers 3


No, for a variety of reasons:

  1. Providing such a certificate requires us to verify your identity in order to issue it. That requires more than just providing your full name. Without some way of proving you are who you say you are, most programs would not consider our certificate of any value and would reject it. We are not interested in doing such verification, and it exposes a bunch of personal information we do not want to have in the first place.

  2. We have no way to actually measure how much time you have personally spent doing anything on our site. Nor are we present to supervise the work you are doing. These programs require completing a certain number of hours, not a set amount of content.

  3. Most importantly, community service programs almost always require you to complete service with a non-profit organization, not just do work for free. We are not a non-profit and do not help students fulfill such requirements. Thus it is pointless for us to invest in such an endeavor in the first place.


You don't need a certificate. But you might be required to show proof of how much you've helped out on SE, for which these statistics might be useful (please see @animuson's caveat below):

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Note that unless you've answered questions that were newly posted, the "people reached" statistic isn't really helpful (you can post answers to old questions and have the stat shoot up without actually having reached out to all those people).

You'll be helping the community in a way that they learn something from your answers provided they are of good quality. Answers which are helpful to the community will be upvoted.

You can also earn various badges on sites you've participated in. You currently have 8 badges on Meta SE.


"You've spent this much time here and answered X questions"

There's a calendar in your profile (that is only shown to you) which you can use to see how many days you've spent on each site.

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You can answer a few questions every day. This would reflect on your profile page along with the specific date and time of answering:

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The calendar can be used to verify whether you've answered any question(s) on a specific day (by cross-checking the dates in the Answers subtab) or if you've just simply visited the site.

At the end, you could share a few screenshots of items that are only visible to you (such as the calendar) and a link to your profile page with your facilitator.

If your school does require a certificate, then there's nothing that can be done from SE's side.

  • 4
    Important caveat to the impact summary is that it is only useful if you created a fresh account specifically for this activity, as any activity prior to the open timeframe does not count (you can't use prior service experience to instantly fulfill your requirements once the window opens).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 18 at 5:08
  • 4
    Also important caveat for the impact: it's a useless statistic. You can post an answer to an old question and have the stat shoot up. You can also spend much time doing work without that having any reflection on impact. Editing, reviewing, participating on Meta, etc do not count at all towards the metric.
    – VLAZ
    Apr 18 at 5:40
  • 1
    You could include some of the participation badges, like Fanatic. Apr 18 at 9:05

I agree with animuson's answer. However, I'd like to suggest a proposal for more laid-back schools/programs (i.e., those doing CAS as a part of IB).

Just download all of your data and submit it to whoever is in charge of verifying your service hours. A certificate is unnecessary. You can't really track time spent, so make an estimate and roll with it.

  • 12
    Anyone doing this should check with their coordinator first before doing so, as the rules are school-specific. Don't put yourself in a position where it unexpectedly doesn't count. I know my CAS program coordinator would not have accepted SE participation to meet requirements (though I can confirm certificates were not necessary).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 18 at 1:18

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