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This site is unusual in the sense that a small subset of people (i.e. the patent examiners and similar industry officials) will be playing a very distinct role on this site, different from the average visitor.

Will (should?) officials' name tags bear some sort of visual distinction? Such as a special badge or perhaps a name mark similar to what you see from admins?

This would help give context to discussions.

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Verifying the officials' position would pose a unique problem so I don't think we should award credentials without being able to verify the users' background. That's kinda what the point/badge system is for, those with more experience will gain points and badges so they'll be distinguished that way.

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  • 2
    Not "award credentials" -- there's no special privileges involved. Just visual cueing. An email @uspto.gov et.al. would be sufficient, though seeing as how this site is a joint effort in collaboration with the USPTO, I doubt that even that would be necessary.
    – tylerl
    Sep 21 '12 at 3:19
  • Also, this is suggested specifically because the reputation system, while useful for identifying heavy users of the site, does not say anything about who the user is. Normally not a significant detail, but since the patent examiner is the only person who's opinion ultimately matters in whether a patent is granted, it would be helpful to be able to quickly identify those users.
    – tylerl
    Sep 21 '12 at 3:22
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    Just because it's hard isn't a justification for not doing it. Costing too much money because it is hard might be, however. Sep 21 '12 at 8:45
  • @MrEngineer13, It's definitely implementable/scalable. Somewhat like the "verified account" icon in Twitter and Google Plus etc
    – Pacerier
    Jun 5 '14 at 0:34
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Keep in mind that, at least at this point, PTO officials are going to be looking primarily at their own site and not this one (see, for example, the FAQ entry on "I found prior art - now what?"). They also have fairly strict time limits on what they can spend on any given application, so they aren't likely to be spending much time interacting with the community here, at least not until it proves to be a success.

This isn't to say that it shouldn't eventually be done, but I'm guessing that doing it now is definitely premature optimization. The time would be better spent at the moment on other ways to help the PTO, like improving the FAQ to make it more likely that high quality prior art is found.

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