Almost three years after the question Numbers required for the 'difficult' badges, it appears that there is no issue with most of the badges inquired about there:
- Popular Question: 5695 awarded
- Notable Question: 1902 awarded
- Famous Question: 221 awarded
- Stellar Question: 9 awarded
Famous Question, in particular, is by far the most accessible of the gold badges, even outstripping the pretty much trivial "Fanatic" badge by a factor of 1.5. One worries a bit about Stellar Question, though.
The Notable Question badge was the subject of a recent question whose poser I unexpectedly satisfied with the observation (apparently shared by Joseph Wright) that the badge requirements are likely calibrated for Stack Overflow and then applied network-wide. This makes some of them wildly inappropriate here, Tenacious being probably the best example.
Here is a list of the most unbalanced badges:
Epic: there isn't nearly enough reputation going around for it to be merely a "silver" achievement to hit the rep cap 50 times. Perhaps 25 is better? Though the name is apt.
Legendary: granted, it's gold, but compared to other gold badges it's way under-awarded. Perhaps the cutoff should be 100 times, rather than 150? Again, going by who do have it, the name is apt.
Reversal: I am honestly surprised there are any awarded. It's very rare for people to use downvotes in significant numbers.
Stellar question: Stars just aren't as common here. Again, gold badge, but there are only seven awarded.
Tenacious: there are none, and there will never be any since questions get too much time on the front page to flash by and be noticed only by the poser.
Unsung hero: the same, but the gold version.
I'm ignoring bronze badges and anything that rewards something you can do all by yourself. These are badges that are under-awarded because of the social structure of the site.
My question is whether this pattern means that these badges have inappropriate criteria, or that they measure something this site simply doesn't have. I know that asking anything about badges is certain to get the high-minded reply that "we don't care about badges; they're just for fun", but honestly, I care. It's a good way of noting what I've been contributing to the site in a more granular way than simply that I have been contributing insofar as I've been collecting reputation. Or put another way: sure it's just fun, but I'm serious about having fun here.