This sounds to me a bit as if users were classified into professionals (having their own fixed IP) and private users.

Perhaps my view is locale specific.

Here in Germany, most private Internet users don't have a unique IP and their providers give them random IPs from a pool which may help to determine your local to about 100 miles which changes about once every 24 hours.

When doing teleworking I'm connected to the Internet through my private Internet provider and make sure not to route my web request through the office VPN channel.

If I had to bet, I would suppose that about half of the users located in Germany don't have a unique IP of their own.

When this applies to other countries, I see no logic in using it in whatever calculation.

I saw the term unique IP used on stack overflow badges and in some link below here. Sorry I do not find the right spot again, even when it was only 30 minutes ago.


3 Answers 3


It can not possibly be perfect, unless they were to limit it only to logged-in users. That still would not be perfect, and would result in another set of problems.

Going by unique IPs is the easiest, subjective way of at least comparing the effectiveness of users getting external links to questions on these sites to be visited.

Across all the sites, people around the globe, and every possible SE user - their circle of 'friends' who might click their external links in to an SE site will include people on static IPs, people on fast-changing dynamic IPs, and people who have dynamic IPs which don't change often.

But you can get a rough idea that someone who has a badge for getting 1000 unique IPs to visit is certainly 'better' at it than someone who only has a badge for getting 25.


Relevant to what?

  • If you want the IP address as a truly unique identifer, then no, it hasn't been relevant for decades.
  • If you are using it for rough estimates, and you don't care about 100% accuracy, it's still quite useful, about on par with opinion polls.

Since the badges in question (Announcer, Booster, Publicist) are closer to the second usage, I'd say it's still relevant - possibly when coupled with additional measures like setting a cookie.

Yes, IP addresses can change and identification by IP address could also be subverted by a resourceful user with a handful of proxies, but the impact of this is so small that it's not really useful to make the tracking bullet-proof. Someone will always know whether the badges were claimed legitimately - the user hirself. Since that's the whole point of the badges, faking the qualification is self-defeating.


I think you have a misunderstanding. 1000 unique IPs means 1000 different ones, not necessarily fixed ones.

  • I understand working from office for a moth = 1 IP, working from home for a month = about 25 different IPs
    – bernd_k
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:36
  • @bernd_k yup. But there probably are additional measures (like a cookie) that make repeated visits from the same machine count only once. If you delete cookies in between, though, your visits will count 25 times - there's nothing that can be done about that. It's not a perfect method
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:37
  • That makes sense, but why refer to IP in the first place and is this asumption or fact?
    – bernd_k
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:41
  • @bernd_k what else is there to refer to? Keep in mind that this is designed to attract traffic from new users who don't have an account yet, so there is no other way to identify a user. The latter (the cookie stuff) is my assumption based on experience doing similar things
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:44
  • OK refering to views by guests (users not logged in) IP is the only option, but for logged on users I don't see any need to refer to IPs
    – bernd_k
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:47
  • @bernd_k I think the major reason for this feature is to attract new users (through blogs, Twitter, etc.) - I don't know how logged in users are counted
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 17:49

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