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.

  • 10
    +1 for being serious about having fun :)
    – Count Zero
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 8:45
  • 12
    pretty much trivial "Fanatic" badge? Ok, you "only" have to visit the site every day for one year without doing anything useful, but this isn't trivial either. Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 11:06
  • 4
    Note that the badge system is the same for ALL SE sites and is not TeX.SE specific. On SO for example it much easier to get the mention badges due to the nature of that site. I don't think the SE team will go around and fine tune the badge limit for every SE site, because that's just to much work. Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 11:09
  • @Martin: I figured, which is why this isn't a feature-request. And considering that I have nearly 20k reputation and Fanatic is still my only gold badge, which I got for doing nothing other than liking to hear about TeX, I think it's trivial. (It's 100 days, by the way. A year would really be fanatical. Maybe this one's unbalanced in the other direction!)
    – Ryan Reich
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 15:09
  • And if you get a couple of more votes on your Notable Question answer, I'll get the Gold Populist badge here on meta!
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 16:02
  • 2
    @AlanMunn I am ever so slightly irritated that the poser of this question refuses to accept an answer. Whatever he does, I get a cool badge. I would prefer if he accepted someone else's, of course :)
    – Ryan Reich
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 16:05
  • 2
    One downside of the badge system being common to all sites is that voting practices differ widely from one site to another. Compare TeX.SE to EL&U.SE, where almost all questions get downvoted into oblivion...
    – jub0bs
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 17:49
  • 3
    @Jubobs: I despise EL&U; the culture there is very unpleasant. You got my point exactly: vote-based badges seem to require site-specific standards. Still, I'd be happy with some opinions (should anyone work up the courage to commit theirs to an answer :) ) as to what some of these less balanced badges actually say about us, other than "we're just a small site".
    – Ryan Reich
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 18:26
  • I’m enjoying this question and the comments. To add something to them: These numbers can change drastically very quickly. I didn’t check, but I think something like a year ago we had less than a dozen Famous Questions, so Fanatic used to outnumber that badge by far for a long time.
    – doncherry
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 0:09
  • 6
    The badge system is entertaining but I don't think there is really any correlation between the colour of a badge and the difficulty of obtaining it. As others have said it depends on the site. (The only gold badge I have on SO is Unsung Hero:-) Compare the silver enlightened badge which is pretty easy to earn on this site (most accepted answers get 10 votes, so basically you just have to be first to post) whereas epic (getting 200 rep 50 times takes effort over a prolonged period) So I think it's interesting to see who has which badge, but comparing one badge to another is a lost cause. Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 12:40
  • 1
    Maybe I am the only one, but I am actually quite happy that the badge system is somewhat broken and meaningless. It helps preventing that TeX.SX becomes a badge hunt territory.
    – Xavier
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


I like this question- it's nice to hear that someone else enjoys collecting badges and takes it somewhat seriously.

As I understand it, our site is a child of the parent http://stackexchange.com/; we have a lot of siblings about a diverse range of topics- bicycles, parenting, lego, etc, and all of the sites inherit the same badges with the same criteria.

Having the same requirements for each site does seem a little unrealistic, and I have often thought that it might be a little better to scale each of the criteria with respect to the number of active users and voters (and perhaps other factors too). This might address some of your suggestions- of course, this would naturally mean that badge requirements would change over time, which would cause all kinds of other issues.

Perhaps it could be scaled based on the users/voters at the end of the beta phase?

  • Since you mentioned the beta stage, I note that during a beta, the reputation limits for editing, closing, reaching moderator, etc. are all lowered dramatically so as to build an administrative structure with lower participation. So the problem is, to some extent, acknowledged, though the standards are still uniform (and don't apply to badges, or to non-beta sites).
    – Ryan Reich
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 17:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .