I think being able to promote new users or otherwise open up availability more quickly is a good thing. I know Daffodil had mentioned being interested in using chat but finding the process of obtaining a hubwheel long and frustrating.
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Oh yeah, did we ever get confirmation if that badge let Daffodil get into chat? It looks like they may not have stuck around : /
And yeah people coming back after a month and a half isn't unheard of, but for a new user I'd be surprised. Shame, they seemed knowledgeable and friendly.