MO 2.0 has a new badge:

Sportsmanship: Up voted 100 answers on questions where an answer of yours has a positive score.

I'm curious whether this badge really makes sense in our community- I think I am more likely to upvote answers on questions where an answer of mine has a positive score, because I learned something from them about a topic which I cared about enough to write an answer on. My hypothesis is that fellow respondents are in fact primary sources of upvotes for answers.

Request: Are these statistics which would allow us to test whether this badge makes sense? Does somebody have a convincing argument for the rationale of such a badge on MO?

Free badges are always nice- but I wonder in some cases about utility.

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ All the badges are silly. But not that big a deal. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ I seem to recall an old thread on tea.mathoverflow.net where Blazing Saddles and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre were brought up $\endgroup$
    – Yemon Choi
    Jul 12, 2013 at 5:54
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @AndyPutman All badges are silly, but some are more silly than others $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 7:44
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A badge spelled "Sprotsmanship" would be even more mysterious. But this one is "Sportsmanship". $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


The general idea of the badges is to encourage behavior that is positive to the community.

Now, you apparently do not need the encouragement regarding this behavior (also upvoting other answers where one has one by oneself, as opposed to seeing them as "competition"), which however you seem to agree is a positive or even natural thing to do. And, it might be that on MO this is in general less relevant, since it is not so common that there are very similar answers given to the same thing, however it can also happen.

In particular in such situations there is an effect that not rarely one of the answers "wins" in the end and gets significantly more votes than equivalent ones (on the grounds that it is ahead early on, and then some seem to only upvote one/the first they see (often sorted by votes), answer giving some piece of information and the gap widens.

So, I think in a scenario where one answers in parallel with somebody else about the same thing, then sees the other answer, and then upvotes it. Then by doing so one likely actually harms ones prospects of getting points out of ones own answer (and also the accept).

This is I think the scenario they mainly had in mind. As said on MO this is not so frequent but I think on other sites it happens all the time. (And such situations can cause friction; math.SE seems to have had various problems arising from such things.)

And depending on how this badge is implemented precisely; if it is exactly as written, that is the number of answers one upvotes counts (and there is no exception for CW) then anybody being in some of big-lists could trivially get it just voting around there a lot.

However, that one can also get the badge in an "absurd" way is true for many and specifically for thos badges based on participation/volume. Say, I could get a fanatic badge, while never contributing anything, the ones based on votes mindlessly up-voting whatever I open, the ones based on edits doing irrelvant edits and so on.

This might be a downside of all these badges that if somebody really wants them they might do more harm than good if somebody does what is asked for in an unreasonable way.

However, for the ones in question here, I would say somebody actively trying to get them will do little harm in doing so (opposed to the situation for the review badges mentioned in a comment), while the behavior encouraged is positive (and you seem to agree with this).

In that sense, I think these badges are relatively more reasonable than some others we had all the time.


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