Yesterday a sock puppet upvoted a bunch of my answers, artificially increasing my rep. I was pleased to see that the Anti-Sock Puppet Strike Force detected and canceled this within a few hours. Of some concern to me is that the sock puppet's activity resulted in two extra badges being awarded to me that were not rescinded (Revival and Mortarboard). Of minor concern is that the policing apparently canceled slightly more rep (15 pts) than I could attribute to the puppetry. So, Kojak, if you're out there, please nuke these badges and start checking for badge artifacts in general. I am "curious" about how the rep inaccuracy occurred, but am "personally unconcerned" about such a small amount of rep.

  • 1
    Don't worry, there is badge recalculation also. and You will miss same badge when you really earn that badge. – YOU Apr 24 '11 at 15:19
  • If so, why did this not take place when the spurious rep got nuked? Is it a separate process that happens later? – George Freeman Apr 24 '11 at 15:24
  • 2
    @George, badge awarding is expensive sql queries, probably not worth to do automatic recalc for badges for them, I think. If someone ask it, they probably do manual recalc of badges. Reps involve your priviledge on the site, but badges does not. – YOU Apr 24 '11 at 15:26
  • 1
    Good point about badges being just fluff. I see you are a very dedicated participant, so please rest assured that I do not intend any disrespect by expressing "skepticism" about your theory that the recalc is not done automatically because of CPU expense. This really does seem like an oversight to me; I await a definitive response from a member of the Anti-Sock Puppet CSI team. :-) – George Freeman Apr 24 '11 at 23:19
  • @George: There just is no "badge" recalc. I can't say a reference right now, but there are many places where it's said (by moderators or the developers) that badges, except tag badges) are (almost?) never taken away. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 15:27
  • @Hendrik Your comment sounds reasonable, though it does, of course, directly contradict YOU's comments. Still awaiting clarification from Starsky, Hutch, et alia. :-) – George Freeman Apr 25 '11 at 16:29
  • @George: No, it doesn't really. What I meant: Usual badges are not taken away. What YOU meant: If you've got an undeserved badge, you won't get it the next time you do deserve it. If you never deserve it, it'll still stick around. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 16:38
  • @Hendrik Well, um, I think I kinda sorta understand, even though, at first blush "there is badge recalculation" (YOU's first comment) and "There just is no badge recalc" (your first comment) seem to be conveying opposite meanings. I've never understood "meta" very well. :-) Since no one has posted an answer to my question, I now get the sense that the Sock Puppets must have launched a first strike and wiped out the Anti-Sock Puppet humanoids. The rep-nuking scripts still seem to be in place--good enough for government work, I suppose. :-) – George Freeman Apr 25 '11 at 19:59
  • @Hendrik & @George, I said about "recalc badges" because I seen following answer from a developer before, but now I checked it again, the post said that "resync badge reasons" - not a exact term as "recalc badges". So, "badge recalc" is exist or not exist is up to you. – YOU Apr 26 '11 at 0:52
  • @George: Now you got your answer - and it even addresses the "almost(?)" from my above comment. And yes, indeed, YOU's formulation in his first comment was a bit imprecise: The 2nd part of that comment is the real thing. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 26 '11 at 8:03

Regular badges are monotonic - they increase, but do not decrease, even if the conditions that gave you a given badge are no longer true.

This is explained in more detail in the Badge FAQ:

The site admin has stated multiple times that, by design, badges cannot be lost or revoked, unless they were obtained by cheating.

However, if the criteria for a badge no longer exist — e.g. the post it was awarded for is deleted — the next award of that badge is negated. When badges are awarded, the system checks to see how many you're supposed to have, and only awards new badges when the number of badges you're supposed to have is greater than the number of badges you have.

As an example, suppose one of your answers received 10 up-votes, which caused you to earn the Nice Answer badge. After you have the badge, that same answer is down-voted to a score under 10. The Nice Answer badge is not revoked. However, the next time you have an answer that gets 10 up-votes, you will not earn an additional Nice Answer badge, because the system sees that you already have the number of Nice Answer badges that you should have.

In certain egregious cases of abuse they may choose to push a full badge recalc on an account, which will reset all badges to what the user's account currently fits, but in general this operation is deemed unnecessary since eventually one might get that extra badge back anyway, and thus is not automated.

One of the reasons minor sock puppet problems do not trigger an automatic badge recalculation is that some badges might be "lost" due to normal processes (downvotes might cause one to lose "good answer" badges, for instance) but the policy is that rather than taking the badge away, you simply do not award it again until they've achieved more than the number they have. It's the equivalent of choosing between letting someone keep a badge they rightfully earned until they pass the threshold to earn it again, or forcibly ripping the badge off their uniform simply because someone downvoted one of their good answers.

If someone is in a state where they have more badges than are currently valid that's ok.

Because it's ok, it's deemed more harmful to remove those badges due to someone else's poor choices. Especially if it ends up removing badges that weren't caused by the actions of the abuser.

In fact, if the process was automated, one could use this system to abuse users by finding people with more badges than what they should have, causing some violence on their posts, thereby forcing a badge recalc.

In other words, you have just forced the system to remove the badges from their uniform despite the policy that badges are kept until they are re-earned.

So the process is not automated, and is only employed in egregious acts of abuse.

  • @Adam Thank you for your very detailed answer. If you don't mind spending a few more moments on this topic, I would appreciate an elucidation of why the rep removal should have been slightly inaccurate. The puppet added 176 points; the scripts removed 191. Let me repeat: I do not care in the least about recouping the 15 pts...I am just curious to learn a little more about the policing process, since I am in the somewhat unusual (I presume) position of having been the "innocent victim" of some minor puppetry. – George Freeman Apr 25 '11 at 23:45
  • @George - I don't have visibility into why you feel there's a discrepancy. See stackoverflow.com/users/645502/george-freeman?tab=reputation to find out where you have all your reputation from. I would focus on why you believe the puppet only added 176. However, one possibility is that when posts are deleted, your reputation isn't recalculated. However, when abuse is detected your reputation is recalculated. It's possible that you have some previously deleted questions and/or answers that only show up as rep changes now due to the recalc that occurred due to the abuse. – Pollyanna Apr 26 '11 at 3:03
  • "Recalc" angle makes perfect sense. Thanks again for your clear and detailed answers. I'm happy to have an "unripped uniform," and will sleep more soundly knowing that Justice is being served by existing mechanisms. :-) – George Freeman Apr 26 '11 at 13:54
  • 1
    I think it is very unlikely that I will ever earn a Mortarboard Badge by my own lights. So, one day, many years from now, when my granddaughter, by then a member of the Stack Overflow Youth League, looks up at me with wide eyes and asks "GranPappy...How on earth did you ever earn 200 rep points in a single day?!?" I will be able to reply with a tale of "The Attack of the Sock Puppets," and how those noble Jedi scripts who came to my defense simply refused to rip my uniform, leaving me the Mortarboard badge as a spoil of war. – George Freeman Apr 29 '11 at 16:28
  • 1
    @George I think you need to add three more words to your Stack Overflow Youth League group's name, starting with the letters E, N, and T. Their uniform should be green. Because, after all, Stack Overflow is made of people! – Pollyanna Apr 29 '11 at 16:32
  • Well, if I can get them interested in things like EPEAT, how about "Stack Overflow Youth League for the Environment and Nature, Too!" (aka "SOYLENT Green")? – George Freeman Apr 29 '11 at 16:55
  • There was talk a while back about instituting regular or triggered badge recalculations. Did this totally fall by the wayside? – Ether May 1 '11 at 15:42
  • @Ether It was never declined, but it wasn't implemented or deferred either. – Pollyanna May 1 '11 at 17:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .