How to get Legendary badge - rather, the way I did it....
In case you were wondering what it took to get that badge, you are, in part, right about the timing - it was a "good time" to get upvotes - but that is/was not the only factor. Let me explain what it took to get that badge, and why it is the one I am most proud of.
I joined Code Review just as a small group of folk banded together as a micro-community inside the larger community, mostly using the chat room to meet, bond, and coordinate the "revival". There is in fact a chat room dedicated to the story of Code Review's revival. So, one of the primary goals of the Revival was to improve the answered-question ratio, to answer all decent questions, and to remove questions that were not a good fit for the site.
I took it upon myself to answer questions, and I did not hold back on either the quantity, nor quality of what I put out there - I would spend 20 minutes to a couple of hours on the answers. I was answering 20 questions a day.... and all you need is 1 upvote per answer to hit rep-cap.... This is significant, because in order to improve the question/answer ratio, the answer HAS to have a positive >0 score. So, other people in the same community were able to improve the ratio by up-voting my answer instead of answering it themselves.
We set up the bot in the chat room to notify when a new question was posted - being first to answer is a big deal when it comes to reputation - but only if the answer is good. Answering new questions (instead of zombie questions) has the advantage of possibly getting an accept-vote, worth 15.
Other folk in the group were learning as well, and there were a few "regular" users who used Code Review as a learning tool, and would post regular questions to challenge-sites like Project Euler, or HackerRank. Regular questions from these users allowed regular answers too.
Then I discovered "money for jam" - a query on SEDE that shows you which questions are earning you reputation long after you answered them.... and I realized that visibility of answers - getting people to look at old answers, is a great way to get votes.... on work you did a long time ago. It re-iterated that quality answers keep paying back.
I looked in to SEDE further, and as a team, we started using it as a tool to identify patterns and strategies for maximizing our impact on the site - I started being selective about the answers I was giving - targeting areas of the site that were more active - no point in answering questions that nobody was ever going to look at, or in some language that was out of vogue, or on a subject that was too limited in scope. Yes, I strategized where to answer.
One big strategy is to EDIT THE QUESTION!!! People forget to do this, and it's such a big deal. Give it a catchy title, make it searchable, and easy to read. People will not look at the answers of questions they do not read/find. The more people who find the question, the more votes you may get. Make the question stand out!
Finally, there WAS a community where we were all chatting in chat rooms, we were all monitoring each other's activity, and on days where I was just a vote or 2 short of capping reputation, I would point out answers that I had written that I thought could use more visibility - put on a puppy-dog expression, and hope that someone would look at it, appreciate it, and upvote it. We were all doing this to an extent, but note that you could not game the system more than the rules of the site allowed.
So, in short, the way to get Legendary, is to:
- spend hours every day answering questions (at the time, an answer vote was 10 points, a question vote was 5 points - answering was worth more than asking).
- provide good answers that add value
- be the first to answer, if you can, or be a better answer than the first, if you can't
- gain visibility on your answers - edit and improve the question (preferably before the tweet goes out) - nobody will vote for a good answer if they do not see it
- establish "legacy" answers that earn you reputation long after you wrote them.
- monitor the site to pick up active questions
- work on tasks that have visibility - clearing up "zombies" and having a group of people involved in the same activity helps a lot.
There is no surprise that Legendary is a hard badge to get - it takes a lot of work, and dedication. I don't doubt that it is daunting, it was for me. It just takes active management, dedication, and time..... lots of time.
I should add, that it lead to some burn-out - I needed a break after "working" so hard on it. It is no surprise that immediately after getting legendary that we all backed off on the effort required (200_success, janos and myself). The one SEDE below shows that we scraped past 150, and stopped. Matt and Simon scraped past 50, and stopped. It's a "crazy" investment in time and effort.
I should also add, that we all became moderators... answering questions as a moderator is harder.... psychologically it feels wrong to use your moderator diamond as an answerer. Also, your time is less available.