In order to get a specialist badge, one must accumulate at least 400 upvotes for a single tag. Jeff set the bar extremely high because answers to questions tagged subjective tend to get upvoted a lot, and he didn't want to give out a bunch of subjective tags the first day. He excluded Community Wiki questions from the counts for similar reasons.

Four hundred upvotes is a lot. If you only answer questions with a particular tag, never ask a question, and none of your answers are accepted, you will have accumulated a reputation of 4001 -- easily within the top 1000 Stack Overflow users at this point.

Realistically, you probably won't have a specialist badge if you haven't done enough work to put yourself in the top 100. It seems the only way to get a specialist badge is to specialize in Stack Overflow.

I think there should be another path for people who have answered only a few hundred questions or specialize in areas that don't get much traffic. As the title suggests, I propose that the specialist badge also be awarded for at least n accepted answers for a particular tag.

I think the number of accepted answers is a better measure than the number of upvotes. The latter can be skewed by the popularity of the question(s). The former shows that you've helped people solve problems -- repeatedly -- even if the problems only garnered the attention of a few.


I say don't change the way the current specialist badges are awarded, but rather create a different class of badges for accepted answers for certain tags. You can still be a specialist in something even if you don't win all the answers. You could be a specialist just by focusing on a single tag over a long period of time to accumulate the votes. That would in fact make you a [tag] specialist, just not a tag expert.

I think there should be a clear distinction between a specialist (one who focuses on a tag) and an expert (one who excels at a tag).

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If you have answered "a few hundred questions" in a particular tag but hadn't got a badge yet, that would suggest that you'd got an average of fewer than 2 votes per answer.

Even in the relatively minority tags, this wouldn't be particularly good.

Perhaps counting an accepted answer as a vote (or maybe two votes) as far as the specialist badges are concerned would be reasonable...

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  • If TheTXIs suggestion gets nixed, this is close second option. – Rob Allen Jul 23 '09 at 14:12
  • I meant a few hundred questions overall, not a few hundred questions for one particular tag. I think most of us in the top 1% (but not in the top 0.1%) have answered "a few hundred questions" overall, and maybe one or two of the most popular tags more than 100 times. – Patrick McElhaney Jul 23 '09 at 14:14
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    Since an accepted answer counts for 15 reputation, why not have this (for the purpose of the Specialist badge) be considered equivalent to 1.5 upvotes? – Ether Oct 10 '09 at 19:04

The problem I see is that sometimes you get an accepted answer but never get any upvotes because maybe its just not a popular topic so you gain nothing towards the specialist badge.

Instead of just upvotes, why not have it add like +2 for an accepted answer as well. So if you get like 3 upvotes for a answer plus it was marked as the correct answer you would get +5 towards the 400.

The accepted answer should be valued higher than a basic up vote.

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To examine this, let us take the Ruby tag, which is in that tier below the most popular tags. It has approximately 3400 questions all-time, an order of magnitude less than C#, but 1/2 - 1/5 of the rest of the top ten. The top people average 3 to 4 upvotes per question, which means that it'll take 100 - 133 answers to earn the silver version, and 250 - 333 answers for the gold version.

I don't think that's too far out of line with the rest of the badges at the same level; Strunk & White requires 100 edits. The badge is meant to show a consistent dedication and skill in a given area. Lower it too much and you've taken away the value of it. Besides, in the long term it'll only get easier as the number of users increases.

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The Specialist badge is there to encourage good answers, regardless of if they're accepted or not. I think it is pitched correctly as it stands. However, I agree with TheTXI - a new badge to cover accepted answers for a particular tag would be a good introduction.

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  • Funnily enough, I already have a custom badge on my profile that I use to track my # of accepted answers. I just don't have it broken out into different tags. – TheTXI Jul 23 '09 at 13:33

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