Related: How can Stack Overflow encourage more thorough answers?

Some users go for low hanging fruit... the easy questions where the first to answer will most likely get an up vote or two and probably get accepted.

Other users take the time to think about difficult questions and/or write thorough responses. They'll often get many more up votes.

As if votes alone aren't enough to encourage good behavior, in order to encourage more people to put in more effort when answering questions, I propose a badge based on the average score of answers. Maybe this should just be a single gold badge, but maybe a silver badge is also in order:

Gold: Gold Standard - Answered at least 50 questions with average score above 5.

Silver: Quality Assurance - Answered at least 20 questions with average score above 3.

Bronze: Minimum Standards - Answered at least 10 questions with average score at least 2.

Please feel free to change names or limits (or vote this down if you hate the idea, though an explanation as to why would be nice).

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    What about users who frequent less popular tags? They may not receive the same number of votes as those who frequent the more popular tags. This badge would imply that their answers aren't as good, or that they don't contribute quality answers. Eespecially if the badges included one called "Minimum Standards". I know it is just an example name, but a badge for a low average score doesn't seem encouraging. – Brandon Jun 22 '11 at 17:48
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    I feel like I'm an average user, but my average answer score is 18. I attribute much of that score to a handful of answers that were relentlessly bike-shedded. The one I am least proud of is here: stackoverflow.com/questions/2754493/… – Robert Harvey Jun 22 '11 at 17:54
  • @Robert: What if average is changed to median? Also, thresholds may be too low. – PengOne Jun 22 '11 at 18:00
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    That might work. You could also adjust the answer score by the number of question views. On my good answers I think I average about 1 upvote per 35 views or so. – Robert Harvey Jun 22 '11 at 18:04
  • @RobertHarvey: Uh, how are you figuring your average score? This calculates your average as 2.02. – mmyers Jun 22 '11 at 18:17
  • @mmyers: I think Robert is talking about Rep instead of score (factor of 10 off). – gnostradamus Jun 22 '11 at 18:20
  • @gnostradamus: Ah, right. If it's score, not rep, I meet the minimum standards, but barely [grf] – Robert Harvey Jun 22 '11 at 18:40
  • @Brandon: The tag popularity aspect did not occur to me. However, that seems to be a general problem anyway with obtaining tag specific badges. It's a good point, though, and maybe good enough to rule our this idea. – PengOne Jun 22 '11 at 18:41
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    Anybody want to do a query to see just how many people would qualify and what their average rep is (and for bonus points, which tags they're most active in)? I'm kind of busy at the moment. – mmyers Jun 22 '11 at 18:49
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    And I will delete all my zero score answers to improve the average! Gimme the badge! – Bo Persson Jun 22 '11 at 20:28
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    @Bo: And that would possibly improve the clutter problem on SO! – PengOne Jun 22 '11 at 20:31
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    According to this query there are 490 users with average scores of 5 or more, but many of them seem to only have 10-20 answers total. @Robert: I also noticed that Eric is on that list, but it says he has an average score of 10.23. Where'd you get .8 from? – gnostradamus Jun 22 '11 at 20:44
  • @gnostradamus: I'm math challenged. His average rep per answer is somewhere in the 78 range. Compared to my 18; that's pretty sad. – Robert Harvey Jun 22 '11 at 21:27
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    @BoPersson: I'm 2.8 with my 0 scores, 3.5 cleaned up. Bout time to trim the hedges! – user7116 Sep 27 '11 at 3:32

There are some assumptions you are making that I have my doubts about:

Some users go for low hanging fruit... the easy questions where the first to answer will most likely get an up vote or two and probably get accepted.

Other users take the time to think about difficult questions and/or write thorough responses. They'll often get many more up votes.

In my experience, it is often the short and easy answers to the simplest of questions that seem to get the deluge of votes. A longer, detailed answer to a difficult question will often not get as many votes because a) users may be less inclined to want to read a long answer and b) the question may be so specific or require such a high level of expertise that many users don't feel they are qualified enough to even vote on a solution, let alone suggest one. I fail to see what your suggested badge will do for this situation.

In short, I think your suggested badge will simply, to use a political metaphor, "give more tax cuts to the rich". Users who are already active in popular tags will get more views (and thus votes) for their answers, especially if they are targeting the easy questions. They will already be earning a great deal in Rep and likely other badges (Nice Answer, etc.), so this would just be one more badge for them.


I like the basic idea, but I suspect the distribution of these badges would, caused by its very nature, be pretty identical to the distribution of reputation. High-rep users usually have many high-rep answers.

Unless there is a significant number of high-rep users who achieved their reputation solely through a huge lot of little-upvoted trivial answers - which may exist but I've not seen yet - I'm not sure this makes sense.


I was just thinking of making this badge proposal myself. In the interests of having some hard data, I created a few Data Explorer queries to show who would be eligible for these badges:

These seem to scale reasonably well and I like the idea of making people think about raising the average quality of their posts (quality over quantity). Although I agree that these badges might be rewarded disproportionately to people in the popular tags, I don't have the data to back that argument up (yet). However, do note that I GIVE TERRIBLE ADVICE would be eligible for the Gold Standard badge through his contributions to the Erlang tag.

  • Some combination of popular tags and external fame is what I'd guess. I'm by no means a star, but a lot of my posts have an enormous long-tail effect, which means Google must have been bringing people in. – mmyers Sep 27 '11 at 2:52

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