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I was looking through the badges. Some have never been awarded! Some seem pretty much impossible to get, and one or two seem to be almost "anti-badges" - e.g. "unsung hero".

Are these badges the same on all SE sites? Maybe it is easier to get some of them at other sites (I am almost exclusively on this one; a little bit on CV, and even less on Mathmatics and History and TeX/LaTeX

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Yes, they are the same. Check out the meta-SO FAQ for more information. Yes, some are much easier to get on huge sites like SO than they are on smaller sites. The best way to get badges is to vote as much as you possibly can and constantly encourage others to vote. That's practically the only place reputation comes from (apart from the tiny bit added for accepting answers) and most badges depend on accruing rep in some way.

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    $\begingroup$ It's amazing what some people will do to earn the equivalent of little gold stars... $\endgroup$ – whuber May 21 '13 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ Clearly, the stack-overflow people realize that some people will do a lot of work for gold stars. $\endgroup$ – Peter Flom May 21 '13 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ There is even a name for all this: gamification $\endgroup$ – Gala May 22 '13 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ I think Napoleon had a few relevant quotes, but perhaps this one comes closest: "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon." $\endgroup$ – Glen_b May 29 '13 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ You guys have quite the vote cartel going. ;) $\endgroup$ – Nameless Jun 24 '13 at 22:27

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