In the past few months, I've seen a few different questions and answers get posted to major social media sites (usually Reddit) and get some really extreme votes. Today's example was at http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/hc9uf/homework_help_see_the_first_answer/, when a poor quality homework question with a joke answer got a whole ton of attention (73 downvotes for the question, 235 upvotes for the sarcastic answer, 20k views). It seems like whenever a question gets Reddited (or Dugg, dunno if that site's even around anymore), things go crazy and questions run out of control.

The questionwas deleted (so you'll need 10k rep to view. I can post screens if anyone needs them) and the 235 vote answer was community-wikiized, so the question was basically wiped from the site, except badges. The asker got 3 badges (Popular Question, Notable Question, Famous Question) and the answerer got 4 (Nice Answer, Good Answer, Great Answer, Reversal).

I'm not sure how I feel about the users still having these badges. Essentially, my question is this:

Should we have a standard procedure for this type of situation? Should badges stay? Should questions and answers be deleted/wikiized? I think it's important for SO to have a gameplan for this ever more frequent situation.

  • The badges are kept. You just won't get another one whenever one of your future (and non-deleted) posts meets the requirements. They will basically be reused. However, I'd personally say, wipe or at least hide the badges of deleted posts. I have one dead gold badge as well which I'd rather like to hide away. – BalusC May 17 '11 at 4:48
  • @Chichiray my real issue with the badges is that it detracts from some of the prestige. Only 67 people have Reversal, and this guy is one of them? Give me a break. – Rafe Kettler May 17 '11 at 4:50
  • Yes, you have at least my agreement in this. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. – BalusC May 17 '11 at 4:51
  • @Chichiray I didn't get that implication, so no worries. – Rafe Kettler May 17 '11 at 4:52
  • I don't even think the answer was that funny... – Cody Gray May 17 '11 at 8:18

I think it's reasonably fair that users benefit from publicity. After all, there are even badges for promoting posts (e.g. "Publicist"), so I'm assuming promotion is encouraged and it shouldn't matter where it happens - Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. are all fair game.

Now, when it comes to poor questions, there're a few things going on:

  • Since the question is now deleted, next rep recalc will take away the rep gained by the answerer and the asker.
  • The badges will stay, but the next time either of the users would gain one of those badges, their existing badge will get reused first. Those badges that aren't achievable multiple times will point to a deleted question. Either those looking at badge records will have 10k+ rep, in which case they'll be able to judge the quality of the question, or they will see that the question was deleted which on SE pretty much automatically means that it was of poor quality anyway.

I don't think this is worth chasing down and "fixing" in an automated way. I think the standard procedure would apply: good questions/answers can stay and the users enjoy the rep from extra publicity, and bad questions/answers should be downvoted/closed/removed as usual. Badges are nice, but ultimately I think they'll balance out even with some publicity abuse in the picture.

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  • 4
    Agreed. Additionally, moderators have the ability to lock a post if it starts getting out of hand, so if a user sees a question starting to spiral out of control, flag it. – nhinkle May 17 '11 at 5:20

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