One side-effect of programmers.stackexchange.com has been to discuss the migration of questions from SO to P.SE.

One side-effect of said side-effect has been the removal (deletion, not migration) of popular questions with no lasting value.
(the final step of a process started in May 2010 with the "The Great Question Deletion Audit of 2010")

  • I don't mind seeing them go from SO (I might be slightly upset to see them simply vanish, but that is not what this question is about)
  • I don't mind the rep loss (don't care actually)

When any visitor will consult my SO account, he/she will see my two "great answers" badges, which refer to the "crappy" question Worst UI You've Ever Used.

I would request those two gold badges to be removed from my account.
Those weren't that "great answers" to begin with.
And they were answering a question so crappy that despite 45K+ views, 264 upvotes and 276 favorites in 26 months, that question has been deleted. Not migrated (and locked). Just deleted.

Note: waffles mentioned that possibility in a comment of his answer to "Why was «What's your favorite “programmer” cartoon» deleted?":

I wouldn't mind stripping a few gold badges

More generally, will all those "great answers" be "readjusted" (i.e. removed), to take into account the deletion of some of those popular questions?

To say that a badge is never removed doesn't seem to make sense in this context.

(Note: that question also applies to other badges:

  • gold ones like "great questions",
  • silver ones like "guru", "good answers", ...etc )
  • 5
    When all of those questions are finally deleted/migrated, I propose a new major reputation and badge recalc!
    – user138231
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:12
  • @BalusC: Well, I have already triggered my rep recalc (with the new button at the bottom of the reputation page). But I haven't found a "badge recalc" button ;)
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:14
  • Yes, but that's a manual recalc, I mean more a global recalc like the last one of March this year.
    – user138231
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:17
  • @BalusC: I understand, but I suspect the small number of users actually concerned by this "problem" may have already triggered a manual rep recalc of their own. Still, a global rep recalc might be needed. But for other reasons.
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:25
  • It's not the final step of "The Great Question Deletion Audit of 2010" since that was all about undeleting already deleted questions. It came together with the implementation of restrictions that made it impossible to delete highly upvoted posts and that also made sure normal crappy questions would only get deleted in rare cases by non-moderators.
    – sth
    Jan 1, 2011 at 21:37

3 Answers 3


Even though this may be a minor issue, I'm leaning in favor of a global badge recalc after the "Great Purge" is complete. Here's why...

Even though a badge isn't taken away, the next time that same badge is earned a new one won't be added. So, in a sense the badge isn't really there even though it's still displayed. You will effectively "lose" one the next time you earn that same badge. What this means is that after the Great Purge, I would probably expect a steady stream of "Why didn't I earn another Nice Answer/Guru/etc. badge for X?" questions showing up for a while, which could get annoying.

However, if a well-publicized and well-explained global badge recalc were performed, it might avoid many of these sorts of question, or at least cluster them together around the time of the badge recalc.

In short, I vote for pulling the band-aid off fast and dealing with the sting now.

  • agreed 100%: +1.
    – VonC
    Dec 30, 2010 at 8:22

Why does keeping the badge not make sense? I'll grant you that the evidence for the award of the badge is gone, but it doesn't mean that you never met the criteria for the badge. I don't really care either way, but just because a question is deleted doesn't mean that you didn't qualify for any swag you earned on it. I mean, just because a company I worked for goes out of business, that doesn't mean that I should have to give back the money I earned while it was still operating. I suppose the same would hold for reputation, though I never really thought of it that way before.

  • We are not talking about any question here (in which case, I would agree with you that keeping the badge could make sense). We are talking about questions so crappy they are deleted. Does it make sense to keep any badge associated with such "toxic" questions?
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:23
  • 1
    @VonC - what about the case where you don't agree with the person who deleted the question -- and most of these are being deleted by @Jeff alone, not the community -- about the "crappiness" of the question?
    – tvanfosson
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:29
  • @tvanfosson: Jeff's site. Jeff's rules. No argument there. I don't agree nor disagree with his decision. I just point out the badge issue (since the reputation can be recalculated at will).
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 22:37
  • @VonC - You missed my point. Your argument seems to be that it's ok to delete the badge if the question was both deleted and crappy. I'm just saying that for people who played by the rules, got the swag, and both cared and disagreed with it being crappy, taking the badge away might not seem so fair. I don't know that it's a foregone conclusion that you ought to lose something that you earned according to the rules, just because the rules later change. The fact that 5 people agreed to delete it instead of 1 might mitigate this, but why remove a badge earned in good faith at all?
    – tvanfosson
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:06
  • @tvanfosson: I don't contest your point at all. Again, we are not talking about questions deleted after 5 votes. We are talking about questions which are purged from any SO/SE site by one person. In this particular context, why keep the associated badges?
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:08
  • 1
    @VonC - that's hard for me to argue personally because badges don't really mean that much to me. I can imagine, though, that a person might care, have a legitimate beef with the rules changing under them, and having something that they do care about taken away. It's probably better to think about their reaction beforehand rather than afterwards.
    – tvanfosson
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:11
  • @tvanfosson: this is not about the owner of said badges, but about those who will examine those badges (and a head hunter can be amongst them), as Ninefingers's answer illustrates.
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:22
  • @VonC - I don't really look at reputation or badges as anything other than rewards in a game. From that perspective, a fair game would let you keep any rewards that you accrue though, I suppose, the capricious disappearance of your rewards could be built in as one of the game rules -- sort of like using a bad potion in Rogue.
    – tvanfosson
    Dec 30, 2010 at 14:46
  • Are people being encouraged to answer badly phrased questions to begin with? If so, and they manage to provide a Great Answer, then why take this away from them later on? And if you're not being encouraged to answer bad questions, why have the Reversal badge, which specifically rewards this? Sorry to dredge the thread, just found it via links from the 'Summer of Love' blog post. Jul 21, 2012 at 12:24

I don't know how much value this idea holds, not because I don't agree with you in principle, but because I look at profiles carefully. For example, when I see a user with say 10k rep and a couple of gold badges or whatever, I go and look through their profile for where they might have earnt those badges. For example, if I see:

The gold badge is in Java and they have several great answer badges on various code type questions, I am impressed.

However, if I see:

The gold badge is for great answer and that answer is a joke or programming meme etc that people have upvoted because ha ha that's funny too, I go looking for evidence of the above. If I find it elsewhere, I am impressed, otherwise I am not.

Also, sometimes I just look at random answers because I think some of my best aren't necessarily the most upvoted and I think that applies to others too.

Isn't that the advantage of SO? What makes it different from qualifications is that you get to actually see all their work and the community's opinion of it. If you couldn't access this data, SO would be just another qualification of sorts. And qualifications are no degree of capability, they are a guide (like rep is).

So in that context, does it really matter? Although I do admire you for actually asking for the removal of badges from your own profile. Personally, I've been editing entries all over the place...! C'mon, gimme that gold badge! (Joking, just so we're clear...).

I should add, just to be even clearer, I don't usually have the time to look in detail at other user's profiles... but sometimes I do, especially if they've answered my questions.

  • how wil you be able to ascertain the quality of the answer (which could actually be brilliant) to the "joke" question since it is no longer visible (except for 10K users)? So to judge the qualification of a SO user, you would have to carefully sort out the legitimate badges from the "ghost" ones (the one pointing to some question you don't see anymore). At this point, those badges could be considered as "noise", no?
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:25
  • @VonC you have a fair point... I see exactly what you're getting at (that that user box ought to mean give or take some error a measure of your commitment to SO and the community's rating of your feedback, not 250 rep cause you got upvoted 25 times for posting a link to xkcd). They would indeed be badges without any evidence. However, I might well look at other questions they've participated in. Just take a few random answers and questions and you get a good feel usually.
    – user142852
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:37
  • good point about exploring the profile. I would simply argue that this exploration (which is always needed to make sense of the actual quality of a user's answers) would be easier without any of the extra badges referring to "toxic" questions (as opposed to badges which refer to legitimate but since deleted questions).
    – VonC
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:44
  • @VonC I agree, and in an ideal world...
    – user142852
    Dec 29, 2010 at 23:51

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