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In 2014, Stack Exchange will continue its tradition of the "Winter Bash". Winter Bash is an annual event that can run on any Stack Exchange site that chooses to participate. Users earn “hats” for their gravatars by completing certain tasks (analogous to badges). Certain actions trigger the user receiving a hat, which their gravatar can “wear”. We track everyone’s progress earning hats in a leaderboard that looks something like this:

  Winter Bash screenshot

Stack Exchange sees Winter Bash as a a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate the amazing people who make the sites awesome, as the year draws to a close. Three things to note:

  • Any user can opt out (clicking an option in your profile means you won't see any hat at all).
  • Apart from the wearing of hats by avatars, the site is otherwise unaffected (there is no “holiday” theme of the site's design, for example)
  • After the event ends, the hats disappear without a trace.

You can see FAQs from last year's promotion here.


This being said, we (as a community) also have to choice to opt out entirely and have the Winter Bash completely disabled on Academia Stack Exchange (not hats for anyone). In 2012 and 2013, we chose to participate.

To decide whether we will participate in the Winter Bash 2014 Edition, I've created a “poll” below this post, with two comments. Upvote one of the comments according to your preference. If you want to discuss further, leave an answer or comments to other answers.

The poll will close on November 28, 2014.

  • 54
    Yes, Academia.SE should participate in Winter Bash 2014 – ff524 Nov 20 '14 at 0:23
  • 11
    No, Academia.SE should not participate in Winter Bash 2014 – ff524 Nov 20 '14 at 0:23
  • 7
    Blank vote (aka "I don't care"). – gerrit Nov 24 '14 at 15:49
  • 1
    Given the vast set of votes in favor (84% in favor as of 1 Dec 14), this winter we will don our silly hats once more. Thanks everyone for participating in the poll. – aeismail Dec 1 '14 at 10:59
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Related: Meta StackOverflow's thread about hats

If you want to see how a relatively chaotic Meta site handles the question.

It's in the same vein as how during April 1st, people got generated unicorn avatars. It's just a bit of harmless fun for StackExchange. With hats.

Edit: Hats are now live. You can opt out by selecting the snowflake in the top left and selecting "I hate hats"

This is where you can enable hats

This is where you can track our hat-domination progress

  • 1
    +1 for mentioning relevant sources, but not as an agreement with your point. – yo' Nov 22 '14 at 22:31
  • We should also track for abuse. If it turns out people are literally breaking the rules or doing stupid stuff to get obscure hats, then it's not such a great idea. For a large SE like Stack Overflow, there's a huge moderation queue that allows for fast management and burying. Here, it may look bad. – Compass Nov 24 '14 at 17:20
  • In past years, we have not had a noticeable upswing in traffic—generally speaking or in terms of moderation. If anything, I think that the goal of the promotion is to give people an extra "incentive" to visit SE during the holiday season, to keep traffic at about "level." – aeismail Dec 1 '14 at 11:08
  • You have to opt in to see the hats - This is not accurate. Hats are enabled by default here. – ff524 Dec 15 '14 at 15:50
  • @ff524 I'm confused then. I had to jump through several hoops to get my hats enabled on Stack Overflow and here. – Compass Dec 15 '14 at 15:50
  • On StackOverflow, they are opt-in. Here, they are enabled by default. – ff524 Dec 15 '14 at 15:51
  • @ff524 magical O_o – Compass Dec 15 '14 at 15:51
  • @ff524 I've updated with how to opt out, and with the proper infos. – Compass Dec 15 '14 at 15:52
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Call me a stick-in-the-mud if you wish, but I have to say I find these sorts of seasonal promos rather dreary and artificial. It's like when people wish you happy birthday because Facebook told them to, rather than because they actually remembered and cared on their own.

  • 6
    I rather tend to regard Winter Bash as a sort of carnival that could happen at any time of the year but just so happens to happen around the winter solstice (and everything that is connected to it). Apart from the occasional santa hat and similar it thus is a rather refreshing relief from holiday promotions than a holiday promotion. – Wrzlprmft Nov 20 '14 at 9:44
  • 6
    @Wrzlprmft: It's certainly no big deal either way, but: in my opinion, not doing anything with silly hats would be yet more refreshing and more of a relief. – Pete L. Clark Nov 22 '14 at 19:38
  • 3
    @PeteL.Clark Note that you can opt out of the silly hat feature and the site will look like it normally does. – user10060 Nov 25 '14 at 1:44
  • 2
    @PeteL.Clark if it makes you feel better, this is your auto-generated unicorn gravatar that I see when I browse from home :P – Compass Nov 25 '14 at 5:59
  • 1
    @Mike: My statement stands, but your point is a good one. Indeed I cannot complain too much about the silly hats if I can click them away. In my memory, the path to removing the hats is not completely obvious. It would be better if we could toggle this once and for all in our user preferences page. (It would be better if the user preferences page had more user preferences. In general the SE attitude has usually been "We know what's best for you", which I find a bit annoying.) – Pete L. Clark Nov 25 '14 at 23:07
  • @PeteL.Clark Those are all fair points. I was not trying to make comments either in support or against the hats (and especially not the way the SE network is run!); I was just mentioning that the option existed, since I didn't notice it in my cursory glance of the original post. – user10060 Nov 25 '14 at 23:49
  • @PeteL.Clark it's a single link, usually with the text "I hate hats" - click that, and they're gone for a year. – EnergyNumbers Nov 26 '14 at 9:47
  • 2
    @EnergyNumbers: In my memory and as described in the FAQ, there is a snowflake icon that you have to click. This is not very transparent, and in fact it seems designed in a rather "gamey" way to give the typical user a puzzle to figure out. Note also that disabling the hats was not an option the first year the promotion was done. As I said, if user preferences were really respected, then it would be something that we could easily take care of once and for all, rather than playing a little game with the rules modified every year. It is truly slightly annoying. – Pete L. Clark Nov 26 '14 at 17:26
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I have said it before and since the time of year is back and the question of hats is back, I will say it once more: Put whatever stupid thing you wish on your smart heads, as long as you make it such that I don't have to look at it.

  • 2
    Is the Opt Out feature sufficient? – Compass Nov 24 '14 at 15:46
  • @Compass Well, I don't quite remember from last year if it hides the hats of others, too. If yes, then of course it is sufficient ;) – yo' Nov 24 '14 at 15:53
  • 4
    Opt out does hide all hat-related events, including others' hats. – ff524 Nov 24 '14 at 16:13
  • @ff524 Perfect. Thanks. – yo' Nov 24 '14 at 16:20
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I think it is a good fun idea. Life without any fun is not a life. Smile, make others smile and laugh. Go for hats friends!

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