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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, 2021 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ A recent post on Meta Stack Exchange: Remove 'Autobiographer' from Recent Badges. $\endgroup$ Feb 25 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ This has now been implemented network-wide, per Catija's answer to the linked MSE post. Per that answer: "We [now] have a site setting that blocks specific badges from appearing in the list of recently awarded badges on both a network-wide and per-site basis. We can override that network-wide block on a per-site basis (e.g. a site specifically wants to keep Autobiographer in their list of recently awarded badges). We can still block all bronze badges on a per-site basis." Catija is working with the MO mods on updating the site settings. $\endgroup$
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Mar 9 at 18:53

2 Answers 2

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UPDATE:

We've blocked Autobiographer from appearing in the recent badges list network-wide so I've removed the general block of bronze badges described below. For more information on the changes that made this possible, see my answer to the Meta Stack Exchange request to block Autobiographer.


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. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2021 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 StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2021 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. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2021 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, 2021 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2021 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 StaffMod
    Jun 2, 2021 at 5:39
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    $\begingroup$ @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.) $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2021 at 5:46
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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 StaffMod
    Apr 16, 2021 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, 2021 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila You mean like xkcd.com/810 ? $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2021 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, 2021 at 7:33

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