Stack Overflow Badge Feedback

by Jeff Atwood

on July 12, 2008

Are you familiar with the "stinking badges" quote? It's from the 1948 movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Here's the actual clip from the movie:

As I mentioned in Podcast #13 (and probably earlier), Stack Overflow will feature a system of badges. Hopefully the non-stinking type. These badges are based on my admiration -- and addiction to -- the Xbox 360 Achievements system. Stack Overflow badges fall into three broad tags: - company

  1. Bronze badges. Bronze badges are awarded for basic use of the Stack Overflow site; they encourage people to use all the typical, routine functions of the site: posting questions, answering questions, voting up or down, tagging posts, editing, filling out your user profile, and so forth. Bronze badges are relatively easy to get and provide immediate positive feedback to new users.

  2. Silver badges. Silver badges are for experienced users who regularly use the Stack Overflow site. They encourage continued participation and returning to the site by awarding longer term goals. Silver badges are uncommon, but definitely attainable if you're interested enough.

  3. Gold badges. Gold badges are for the hardcore and the completionists. They reward the most difficult feats; you'll have to not only participate but be skilled and knowledable about topics to earn these. Gold badges are something of an accomplishment.

Bear in mind that badges are (almost) never awarded arbitrarily by people; they are always earned by achieving a measurable numeric goal queried out of the site database. They are based on data! You don't have to worry about currying a moderator or another user's favors to earn badges; just use the site like you normally would, and the site itself will bestow these badges upon you. That said, badges are supposed to be fun, too!

Here's our current alpha list of badges:

stackoverflow-badges-alpha

Descriptions follow:

GoldFounder Founding member of stackoverflow.com
GoldHacker Thanks for contributing to stackoverflow.com in an unconventional way
GoldBeta Beta tested stackoverflow.com
BronzeTeacher Answered first question
BronzeStudent Asked first question
BronzeEditor First edit
BronzeEnforcer First rollback
BronzeOrganizer First retag
BronzeSupporter First up vote
BronzeCritic First down vote
BronzeCitizen PatrolFirst flagged post
SilverLibrarian Retagged 100 questions
SilverStrunk & White Edited 100 entries
SilverYearling Active member for a year
BronzeSpeedy Answered a question within 2 minutes of posting
SilverGeneralist Active in many different tags
SilverSpecialist Highly active within in a specific tag
BronzeNecromancer Answered a question more than a year later
SilverGuru Judged best answer by the asker
SilverEnlightened First answer was also judged best answer by the asker
BronzeNice Question Question voted up more than 10 times
SilverGood Question Question voted up more than 25 times
GoldGreat Question Question voted up more than 100 times
BronzeNice Answer Answer voted up more than 10 times
SilverGood Answer Answer voted up more than 25 times
GoldGreat Answer Answer voted up more than 100 times
BronzeInteresting Question Asked a question with 1,000 views
SilverFascinating Question Asked a question with 2,500 views
GoldFAQ Worthy Question Asked a question with 10,000 views

Most, but not all, badges can be awarded multiple times.

This list is not by any means final. Our goal with the badges is to encourage people to a) have fun and b) use the Stack Overflow website in ways that make sense. So I want to avoid badges that encourage "gaming the system" behavior in favor of badges that encourage people to "do the right thing".

What are your thoughts on the current, tentative list of badges? Keeping in mind the goals I've outlined, what badges would you like to see us implement -- and please, try to stick to badges based on metrics we can actually query back out of our database. :)