As discussed in this recent post, there is currently an influx of a ridiculous number of profile spammers showing up with the Autobiographer badge in the "recent badges" box on the MO homepage. Would it be possible to filter out the Autobiographer badge from this list?

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    $\begingroup$ My understanding is that this is one of the options SE is considering. We don't have any word on what the timeline is for implementing something like this. $\endgroup$ – Tim Campion Mod Apr 16 at 16:13

We don't have a way currently to remove a specific badge but we do have a built-in way to remove a type of badge - by class (gold, silver, bronze). As such, I've just removed all bronze badges from appearing in the right sidebar "Recent badges" section to address this issue.

We're still looking at what we can do about the actual issue with the spam profiles but this should, at least, make them much less visible and still allow y'all to appreciate the achievements of others on the site.

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    $\begingroup$ Not perfect, since there are bronze badges that are non-trivial to get and worth recognising in some fashion. One option would be to retire the Autobiographer badge altogether. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Apr 16 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ The spammers aren't trying to get the badge. It's a side effect of editing the profile. Removing it isn't really necessary. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Apr 16 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ Well, clearly. But if there were no such thing as the Autobiographer badge, then the annoying symptom will be gone, and people who get bronze badges for actual contributions (like Nice Question) get some small recognition. $\endgroup$ – David Roberts Apr 17 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ @theHigherGeometer: I think the Autobiographer is a good badge. It's an easy and low-cost gamification that encourages people to fill in their profile. (Compare that to badges like Archaeologist which sometimes drive people to make ridiculous edits that bump very old posts in droves just to get the tag, or reviewer badges that drive people to robo-review and clear low quality posts without making a serious consideration. Of course, both these badges have merit when earned organically through proper use of the system, I'm not calling for their removal.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Apr 17 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, this was done only on MO and only on the main site? I see some Autobiographer badges on MathOverflow Meta and when I tried some other sites, I was able to see Autobiographer (or at least some bronze badges) also on the main site: Mathematics, Sports. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 2 at 5:36
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak it's MO only and I didn't remove the badges entirely, I only stopped them from appearing in the sidebar - that sidebar doesn't appear on most sites, only when the hot network questions are hidden. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Jun 2 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Catija Thanks for the response. You're right - the list of badges in the help center (which I linked to) is definitely less visible than the one on the frontpage. (Only shown on MO - main and meta - since they do not show the HNQs.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 2 at 5:46

The spammers would then use a different badge, for instance Informed (read the entire tour page), Organizer (retag a question), Supporter (first upvote), Teacher (first answer). It's an arms race, unfortunately, at least as long as there are low-effort badges.

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    $\begingroup$ They can't vote without earning 15 reputation - it's extremely unlikely that they're aware enough of how badges work. They create these accounts on sites that don't have the badges in the sidebar so that's clearly not actually their primary goal. I'm really not concerned about this as a possible outcome. $\endgroup$ – Catija ModStaff Apr 16 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ If it's an arms race, it's clearly skewed in our favour. We simply train the spammers to ask and answer good questions and good answers. Who wouldn't want to solve an open problem with a spammer? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Apr 17 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila You mean like xkcd.com/810 ? $\endgroup$ – Emil Jeřábek Apr 17 at 7:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Emil: Precisely. I was just too lazy to find the link. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Apr 17 at 7:33

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