Up until 2016, there were polls asking if we wanted to participate in the annual Winter Bash Hat Festivals. Why haven't there polls the past couple of years? I realize the votes have been overwhelmingly in favor of hats, so they might seem pointless, but being pointless is not a reason for not doing something (otherwise, we wouldn't have hats in the first place).

Was there some discussion? Laziness? Forgetfulness? Have we given up on any semblance of democracy?

3 Answers 3


I guess I will formally chime in. The 2018 Winterbash FAQ says:

Why are you doing this to us?

For sites that have hats on by default, your moderator teams or your communities indicated that hats would be a fun, lighthearted thing to do. Why did we offer it in the first place? Because we thought it was a nice way to finish out another really amazing year. You can always decide you hate hats and turn them off.

In 2013, we had to tell SE if we wanted to be included (default was no hats). In 2014, they changed the default to hats, but asked us to respond either way. In 2015 and 2016, they did not even bother asking for responses to opt in and instead only asked for a response to opt out. In 2017 and 2018 they simply did not ask for anything. the idea was that support for hats was so decisive (most sites really love hats and a few really hate hats) that SE stopped asking mods if we wanted them or not.

There may have been some discussion regarding them stopping the discussion, but I really do not remember. In 2017, I asked moderators I noticed we did not get the standard email asking if we wanted hats or not. I asked other moderators from all the SE sites what they were doing and there was strong support that we probably did not need to poll users anymore. If someone else starts a poll and it becomes clear we don't want hats, I will let SE know that we don't want them anymore. In this way democracy is not really dead.

  • 1
    Thanks! (I didn't actually think that democracy was dead.) Out of curiosity, what sites really hate hats? (Is there a list of which sites opted out?)
    – Kimball
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 20:21
  • 2
    @Kimball TeX, Japanese, and MO opted-out in 2014, but the certain thing is MathOverflow since the beginning.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 3:52
  • @AndrewT. Thanks. Coincidentally I am a user of each of those sites. I wonder what that says about me? (At the least, that I don't pay too much attention to hats.)
    – Kimball
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 4:02
  • @Kimball well, you asked the question... Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 13:59

In past years (2016 and earlier), site moderators received emails from SE announcing the upcoming Winter Bash before it started, and asking us to let them know before a specified date if our site wants to opt out.

There wasn't an email announcement this year (or in 2017).


In addition to ff524’s and StrongBad’s comments, I’d also mention the rate of support in most of the polls was well over supermajority levels.

However, the fact is that nobody got advance notice of the Winter Bash. I had forgotten about it until I saw I had been awarded a hat!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .