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Only on one occasion, it seems, someone has had any confusion about how tag badges work.

Does that mean this feature is strikingly crystal clear compared to other aspects of the site, which generates dozens of questions?

Or is this a somewhat "invisible" feature that few discover? From my experience it looks like they only work for late-game gamification, posing another goal very active users can aim for. Does that reflect the intended usage of tag badges, or is there something special about the tagging situation on Space.SE that causes this to happen?

For programming oriented sites, for instance, most questions will be tagged with one of a few popular programming languages, with most users specialising in only one or two of those.

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  • $\begingroup$ I did not even realize they existed until I earned my first one. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Oct 22 '20 at 16:26
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Or is this a somewhat "invisible" feature that few discover?

Hard to prove that, but my suspicion is yes. It is not mentioned in the tour, and in normal perusal of the site you're not likely to stumble across it unless you go digging into users' badges and happen across one who has a tag badge. It could be discovered by reading over the Help Center in more detail or perusing the list of badges, but it could be easily overlooked in both places.

Does that mean this feature is strikingly crystal clear compared to other aspects of the site, which generates dozens of questions?

Well, there are over 100 questions asking for help with tag badges on MSE, but that isn't a lot for MSE (compare to the ~700 questions asking for help with synonyms). Perhaps it is a relatively straightforward feature, or perhaps as we speculated above there simply aren't a lot of people who know about it.

From my experience it looks like they only work for late-game gamification, posing another goal very active users can aim for. Does that reflect the intended usage of tag badges, or is there something special about the tagging situation on Space.SE that causes this to happen?

That's pretty typical, I'd say. It's an indicator of someone having expertise in a specific topic, as it requires a total score of at least 100 across 20 or more non-wiki answers. Naturally, it takes time to demonstrate expertise in a topic, and not everyone will be able to do that for every topic.

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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh If you click the "over 100 questions" link, the top result on that page should be the meta page that explains tag badges. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 21 '20 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ That did it, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 21 '20 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ Plus, tag badges aren't all that relevant to casual users. Unless you have a gold badge, they are useless, and if you have the gold badge, you have had the time to figure the more intrinsic details of the platform out. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Oct 23 '20 at 8:05
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The Criteria for the gold tag badge is difficult to meet, lesser badges do nothing. The site needs enough questions with the tag so that a user can get 1000 score on answers to the tag; with answers without downvotes they'd be a 10K user minimum, if they provided answers on only one tag. That reduces the number of users eligible.

Our highest reputation user has no gold tag badges, and out of our top reputation users only a couple have a single gold tag badge, examples: Organic Marble and geoffc. Stack Overflow's most popular tag "javascript" has 561 gold tag badge holders. Apparently user TidalWave got a gold tag badge several years ago (but no longer holds one), and since then there's only 2 total.

There's a total of 185 MSE questions for [tag-badges], not every support need is tagged with support, a few are feature requests or discussion. There's 108 on MSO. It's only when there's enough people to have the badge (one example, Stack Overflow) or a convergence at the focal point (MSE) that people have questions about the feature.

That is most likely the reason why our meta has just 3 questions, out of 4.

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