[racket] Racket Badges

From: Norman Gray (norman at astro.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Sep 1 10:53:52 EDT 2011

Neil, hello.

On 2011 Sep 1, at 06:00, Neil Van Dyke wrote:

> When someone helps me out here or contributes a good idea to a discussion, I appreciate it, but it's even more appreciated if they're doing it out of higher goals, community, or altruism, without the taint of working towards a merit badge.
> Stack Overflow's game is probably benign, but there's a context of the last several years of connected society.  Online sites are conditioning us in various ways to accept ubiquitous buzz marketing, and to parody social processes and fritter away social capital to promote products in exchange for some consideration ("like us on Facebook for a discount"), and this all being socially acceptable to the extent that people care or realize it's going on.  This isn't new -- we've enjoyed entertainment industry generated 'news' and disingenuous performances for TV talk show for decades -- but it's only the last decade or so that everyone can see themselves acting a role and playing the game on a large scale.  I hope that individuals of the new generation somehow manage to value being genuine and to have genuine connections, despite an environment that's trying to push them otherwise.  In this context, do you *really* want to bring more of this game into a relative oasis?

Very well said.

I've thought before that the Stack Overflow game was amiably silly, but never that it was potentially socially harmful.

I don't think I'm completely convinced that it is harmful in the SO context -- by reifying reputation it does successfully encourage people to aspire to good answers (and so is a practical good), and despite various alarms a decade of social media hasn't produced the predicted apocalyptic collapse of real human contact (so it may have less practical impact than we might expect).  That said, you're certainly right that, by helping make the insubstantial normal, games like this may be part of a larger question than is obvious.

'Problematizing' is a useful word.

Best wishes,


Norman Gray  :  http://nxg.me.uk
School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK

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