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EDIT: I asked this question on the StackOverflow Meta.

I recently took a look at the badges overview and it seems to me that a lot of the gold badges are literally or nearly impossible to earn on the Philosophy SE, such as "Stellar Question", "Great Question", etc. have never been awarded and the conditions are nearly impossible to meet on this website. The conditions are exactly the same on more popular websites such as the Math SE.

On Math SE, the most upvoted question has 394 votes, and 41 questions have a total of 100 or more upvotes. On Philosophy SE, the most upvoted question has only 83 votes. This is not because this question is "worse", so to speak, than the most upvoted question on Math SE, but this is simply because the Philosophy SE attracts less visitors.

Wouldn't it make more sense to link the conditions to earn badges to the number of visitors or active users on a site? It's not that this bothers me personally that much; it's just that after reading a lot about gamification, I think these badges are a great way to motivate people to write good questions and answers, and since the developers of this platform decided to implement such a badge system, I suppose they believe in that too. However, since some of these badges are virtually unattainable on this website, it seems to miss the point.

I do understand that they might simply want more visitors (which is probably why this site is still in beta) rather than change their criteria to earn badges. However, I think it is due to the nature of the subject that this website will always attract less visitors than Math SE, for instance. Once you accept that, I think it's best to make motivate these (fewer) visitors as much as possible, which might in turn lead to a more and higher-quality content, which might in turn lead to a (slightly) higher number of visitors.

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Well, just in passing -- feature requests that might indicate platform-level changes belong more properly on meta.SO, and you'll likely get a much more directed/focused response there.

That said I'm not sure I really see a whole lot of value around altering badge thresholds for smaller sites.

Note that many if not most badges are still reachable. The few that aren't really require a much more robust user base than we currently have, and I think that's okay -- if anything it incentivizes outreach efforts.

At any rate -- I'm not sure why you seem to think that people aren't currently motivated to contribute quality material. And rather than proposing platform alterations, it would seem to my mind that the 'real' solution here is to engage more seriously in outreach and grow the community so that the loftier badges might eventually be potentially achievable.

(But again feel free to bring this up on meta.SO if you do think it's a valuable feature request or if you would like feedback from the most active users across the network.)

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  • Yeah, META.SO for a global community response for sure. I would be interested in seeing what other people from other sites thought of this, esp. sites like Bicycles or something which get much less volume than SO.
    – stoicfury
    Jul 18 '13 at 22:28
  • Edited the question just before I read your reponse, because I knew that the number of visitors would come up. :)
    – Ben
    Jul 18 '13 at 22:32
  • I will bring it up on meta.SO and see what they say indeed. I'm not saying this is a big issue necessarily, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it just doesn't seem right that simply because you contribute to a more popular site that you 'earn more' (even though it's only badges) and because the badges system could potentially be used more effectively this way.
    – Ben
    Jul 18 '13 at 22:36
  • Should I rewrite the question again on Meta.SO or will this question be migrated to Meta.SO?
    – Ben
    Jul 18 '13 at 22:44
  • @Ben It might be best to formulate another question specifically tailored for meta.SO -- I might take a look at some existing feature requests there for inspiration :)
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Jul 18 '13 at 23:11
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This would make sense, but I think the idea is that a site is supposed to be in beta only so long and then eventually reach a point relatively on-par with the other sites in terms of population/voting. Your point is compelling as some sites — even those that have graduated — may inherently attract a larger audience than others. At any rate, while I think this could perhaps help us and other small sites, the SE team historically has been hesitant to add new features to sites still in BETA.

The only difficulties I see is that a community that grows slowly would have to repeatedly have it's "badge values" adjusted so as to not make them to easy to obtain. This could be an undo burden on the admins to have to police this for every subsite. But also, there may be something inherently devaluing about constantly altering the value of prize to make it more easily obtainable.

Good idea though, it definitely warrants some discussion. I can bring this up with some of the Admins as well to get input with them. :)

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  • Yes, that was my point exactly. The philosophy website will never attract the same amount of users as StackOverflow or Math SE, no matter how much SEO, promotion, etc.
    – Ben
    Jul 18 '13 at 22:41

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