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gold badges are virtually never awarded for "real" questions

It seems that almost all the gold badges fall into two categories:
- The per-tag ones
- Participation in for-fun or subjective discussion questions.

Virtually none are awarded for actual programming-related questions or answers.

Taking Jon Skeet as an example (not picking on him, of course. I don't think anyone would dispute that he's a great contributor to SO, which is exactly why he makes a good test case), I'd expect him to have gotten a lot of gold badges for the very good answers he's given to a lot of questions. Instead, it seems that he's got:
- 1 "populist" badge
- 3 gold badges for tag-specifc activity (.net, java and c#)
- 4 for "great answer (voted up 100 times). The four answers in question are: "Jon Skeet Facts, Favorite Pet Peeve, "Hello World in less than 20 bytes", and a discussion of easter eggs.
- 3 badges for asking the question "What’s your most controversial programming opinion?"

The populist one makes sense, but it is the only one that has been awarded to him for actually being helpful. The tag-specific ones make sense as well, but I'll ignore them here as they don't refer to specific questions or answers.

The rest are all for "silly" or subjective threads. Is that really the things you want to encourage? The person who has probably done more than anyone to help out and share knowledge, gets gold badges only for his participation in joke threads or opinion/discussion threads?

This seems to reward the wrong behavior. I'd rather see gold badges awarded for actually contributing good answers to "hard" programming-related questions. I don't know if the answer is somehow to ignore all "off-topic" threads for purposes of awarding badges, or just tweaking the requirements for gold badges to make them easier to get all around.

But when the ratio of gold badges for "off-topic" to "serious" questions/answers is 7:1 for a user as prominent and knowledgeable as Jon Skeet, it just seems like there's something wrong. If *he* can't qualify for more than one gold badge for factual programming answers, how many have been awarded in total? Five?

As it is, it seems that the *only* way to get gold badges is to participate in a joke thread.

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    jalfjalf shared this idea  ·   ·  Admin →
    declined  ·  codinghorrorcodinghorror responded  · 

    declining, because we’d have to remove badges from community wiki and this would cause user revolt.

    8 comments

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      • ZifreZifre commented  · 

        I totally agree with this. After getting a gold badge for saying programmers number lists from 0, I'm feeling kind of ashamed of myself. It was such a simple and obvious answer, I just happened to be there at the right time to answer the question first. What I think would help would be to award a gold badge for *~50* upvotes on a *non-community wiki* question. These would probably be about as rare as the silly "Great Answer"s.

      • amnorvendamnorvend commented  · 

        I'm voting for this simply because of how gold badges are described:

        "Gold Badges are rare. You'll have to not only participate but be skilled and knowledgeable to earn these. They're something of an accomplishment!"

        This simply isn't true currently. Gold badges don't seem to be getting earned because of skill.

      • AndomarAndomar commented  · 

        Does this suggestion even say how gold badges SHOULD be awarded?
        I typically get only 1 or 2 votes for answering a REAL HARD question, and many for a simple popular one. That's exactly what seems to work given SO's success, so why change it?

      • gbjbaanbgbjbaanb commented  · 

        I'm no fan of the votes you get for the "stupid" answers and questions. anything that can keep the question as fun, but unrewarded might help to urge people to the site's original purpose - helping with answers to technical questions. I mean, we can't have questions asked concerning system adminstration (even scripting!) but "whats your favourite cartoon" are fine. Its a crazy situation.

      • cletuscletus commented  · 

        I have to agree with this one. I for one would like ot see, for example, Great Question and Great Answer posts (which you currently can't do). Even if you could however it would be 95% noise about wedding cakes and the like.

        The idea that the community voted them up is misleading. The community has clearly decided to treat "fun" questions as polls and votes are handed out far more easily than for "real" questions.

        On another thread someone pointed out that they got 8 Good Answer badges for one question by simply posting links to other questions.

        IMHO that really diminishes any notional value badges might have.

      • wompeterwompeter commented  · 

        There was a request to have a badge implemented for a certain number of accepted answers, but it appears to have been declined. It seems to me that that would have been a badge the encourages more "technical" related activity. Any particular reason that badge type wasn't considered?

      • gamecatgamecat commented  · 

        Not never, but the community favours these questions so, just relax and enjoy.
        (And wait until your highest ranking answer gets its 100th vote).

      • pbyshpbysh commented  · 

        I am no fan of all the rep/badges that people get off of subjective questions, so I have to agree with you to an extent. However, the community voted him up, so shrug. I would like to see subjective questions being taken out of the equation, though, but I don't see it happening.

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