How about a badge that encourages users to give back as many votes as they get?

I did a quick (not 100% accurate) go on data.se.

The basic rules are:

  1. Minimum amount of rep to be considered (5k or more)
  2. Voted on at least (rep / 10) posts.

So, if you have 5000 rep, you are expected to vote up 500 posts to get this badge. And it slides.

A few twists:

  • Make it revocable
  • Exclude wiki
  • Gold version for high rep users (10k and up)
  • Perhaps look at an amendment that allow some very high rep users to get it, https://stackoverflow.com/users?tab=voters&filter=all, Marc is perhaps one of the more balanced users, it would be more that fair for him to get it.

I think this kind of badge encourages the right people to vote, and helps give something back to the people who vote a lot.

Voting drives the economy of Stack Overflow and this would potentially help make it more sustainable.


  • 2
    Something doesn't feel right about this, but I can't put my finger on it yet. Perhaps I'll come back later if I can figure out what's bothering me about it..
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 7, 2011 at 0:25
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    @Pollyanna ... probably the concept of a revocable badge, I too am uneasy with it.
    – waffles
    Mar 7, 2011 at 0:36
  • Nah, I'm fine with revocable badges. I think they should represent the user's current achievements anyway. For instance, I don't think I should have the critic badge, but I wanted it, and it's easy to get even if you want to show zero down votes on your profile. I think the main issue is that it may cause a lot of undeserved voting to occur, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Interestingly it turns into a reverse ponzi scheme. Since there are so many existing votes on the highest accounts, the greatest benefits will end up on the lower accounts. It will be easier to get as a new user.
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 7, 2011 at 0:46
  • This would (initially) encourage the behavior that we want, I'm just concerned about people feeling compelled to vote without thinking if the badge is revoked (perhaps after being away for some time). Codifying and nullifying all of the corner cases where this could be removed due to no action on the recipient's part seems icky.
    – user50049
    Mar 7, 2011 at 1:12
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    Do we really, truly need more badges to encourage voting? Haven't Electorate and Sportsmanship already done enough damage?
    – Aarobot
    Mar 7, 2011 at 1:54
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    @Aarobot and yet people aren't voting much...at all. Mar 7, 2011 at 2:26
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    @Rebecca: On Stack Overflow? That's hard for me to believe... and even if it were true, you all already know what this type of incentive actually leads to. You want people to vote on good content but incentives like this just encourage people to vote on anything. I didn't see waffles's question asking why votes per post are on the decrease but now that I have, I think the answer is obvious: Because the number of questions continues to grow, but most questions come from drive-bys and other people who don't give back regardless of in-site incentives.
    – Aarobot
    Mar 7, 2011 at 2:39
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    @Aarobot it's a valid concern, but I don't believe people will vote randomly or for bad or wrong answers.
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 7, 2011 at 3:41
  • @Poly try downvoting a (bad) question some time, then time how long it takes for the score to go back up to 0.
    – Aarobot
    Mar 7, 2011 at 4:04
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    @Aarobot, that is a separate issue that I think needs addressing, mercy voting -1s back to 0 results in a 3 point bonus for questions and 8 point bonus for answers
    – waffles
    Mar 7, 2011 at 4:05
  • @waffles, although the rep equation is definitely an irritating one, what's of greater concern to me is the fact that this behaviour keeps bad questions alive for longer and sometimes even brings them extra attention (think long, drawn-out comment threads).
    – Aarobot
    Mar 7, 2011 at 15:29
  • @Aarobot I'm fine with bad questions staying at 0, and as I never downvote that particular part of the system doesn't matter to me. If I feel strongly that an answer should be pushed down, I typically upvote all the other good answers. People who come along and mercy upvote don't appear to be interested in reversing my upvotes by downvoting the other answers, and so the good still floats the the top, and the bad stays at 0. Not that it ultimately matters, as people later come to solve their problem they will read most or all of the answers, and take with them whatever helped them the most.
    – Pollyanna
    Mar 7, 2011 at 15:55
  • @Polly: I'm not fine with bad questions staying at 0 and personally wouldn't advertise a reluctance to downvote them. They add noise and distract attention from better questions asked by people who put in a modicum of effort. Most of the "big city problems" Rebecca refers to above are a result of people being unable to separate the signal from the noise, and random/sympathy/mercy voting seriously hurts the SNR.
    – Aarobot
    Mar 7, 2011 at 16:48
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    @Aarobot @Polly, it is totally critical that the bad gets downvoted to a negative score for a lot of our "ban bad users from asking questions" logic to kick in. I will try to run some analysis on the scale of "mercy" upvoting at SO.
    – waffles
    Mar 7, 2011 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


Take, for example, Jon skeet. He's up voted eight thousand times, but has 280,000 rep.

Is this honestly going to make him vote more? He'd have to vote 20,000 times to catch up, and at a limit of thirty votes per day would require nearly two years of using up his daily up vote limit of thirty.

Yet during that time he'd gather another 200k rep. In other words, he would never catch up as he gets more than 300 rep per day, but could only grant others three hundred rep per day.

I don't think that this will really cause people to vote more frequently.

However, I don't think it will harm stack overflow. As nice as badges are, reputation reigns supreme, so the only side effect (people answering less to maintain their balance) is terribly unlikely.

We would, however, break peoples expectations of what a badge is by introducing this odd duck.

Consider instead following what others have suggested. Make it a visible metric like the accepted answer rate.

  • 1
    I'd have to vote rather more than that. Looking at my reputation report, it shows I've received about 74,000 upvotes. At 30 votes per day, that's a bit over six and a half years... assuming no more votes in the meantime :)
    – Jon Skeet
    Mar 9, 2011 at 20:48
  • Now it's 74,001 ;-)
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 20, 2011 at 21:32

I hate the idea of a revokable badge (and also tend to hate the idea of badges predicated on conditions that are likely to change dramatically). So I hate this suggestion.

...That said, it's an interesting metric. Perhaps it's time for another section on the bio pages, containing stuff like this, accept rate, flag weight, etc...

After further thought, I'm also against this because it encourages up-votes over down-votes... And the system already encourages this by giving down-votes a rep-cost. No need to risk skewing further in that direction.

  • yeah perhaps something below top 0.01 percent ... there are some cases we have to make badges revocable (for example all the tag badges are, cause we have to allow for retagging and so on) I agree with the concern around revocable badges
    – waffles
    Mar 7, 2011 at 0:32
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    This makes me uneasy as well. What happens if someone gets busy for a month or two and receives sufficient up-votes to tilt the balance? Should they engage in a voting frenzy to get the badge back? I think this would initially reward behavior that we want, but might subsequently encourage behavior that we don't.
    – user50049
    Mar 7, 2011 at 1:10

Why another badge if SE is being meh about badges? Rep seems to be the ubiquitous currency, badges hardly mean much (2nd class at best).

But on topic, I think it would be fun. Any meritious goal ending in a badge is good.

On balance [pun intended], it looks moderately achievable. Given the caps

30 votes per day     vs     200 rep per day

Most users that breach the rep limit do so with 12* questions or so, so throwing 15 or so votes would be more than easily achieved. Given one normally looks at more questions than one puts an answer to.

* (number guesstimated)

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