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It is time to celebrate Stack Overflow's 4th anniversary! (Okay, the actual time was 6–8 weeks ago, give or take a few months, but who's counting?)

We try to stay in tune with the developer community, so when we saw this cry go out on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/jensschauder/status/272283929854222336

we wanted to try something different this year. While we're sure everyone would love some SO-branded underpants, we thought we'd play a game with the top 180 of our users instead:

swag

That's right! A Stack Overflow branded desktop cornhole toss game!

If you're a top 5 page user, you'll be receiving an email from us soon.

Thanks for being awesome!

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It's a welcome gift, but it doesn't look like it's regulation. Some people get pretty serious about this: playcornhole.org/rules.shtml –  Mark Ransom Jan 12 '13 at 3:55
    
Last year I had received a mail and in response, I had sent my postal address. BUT I didn't get any t-shirt. I waited for it the entire year. I don't know if I would get it this time. Maybe, StackExchange team doesn't send gift to users from India? –  Nawaz Jan 12 '13 at 4:53
    
@Nawaz sorry to hear that you didn't get your shirt, I'll let our staff know and send you a new one. We've had a lot of problems with packages being lost in India in the past. –  Jin Jan 12 '13 at 5:20
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I wish I could be in top-5 page. –  Shiplu웃 Jan 12 '13 at 10:25
    
@Jin I submitted twice (the second submission corrected the first one). Is that going to be handled well? –  Rob W Jan 12 '13 at 13:13
    
@RobW That's not a problem. –  Anna Lear Jan 12 '13 at 17:10
    
Damn. I've slipped to page 7 :( –  ChrisF Jan 13 '13 at 11:58
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"Stack Overthrow" .. I see what you did there. –  Tim Post Jan 13 '13 at 14:48
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I want SO underpants. Now. –  Simon Jan 16 '13 at 8:54
    
Just received it. The legs that hold the deck with an angle are of a different length. I mean DIFFERENT. So the whole game deck is unstable because of that. Not that good polished like SO is. –  zerkms Feb 14 '13 at 5:23
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Dammit! I'm the second user on page 6! –  Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 22 '13 at 15:15
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on the inside label it reads while (wearing && clean) {if (user.followThrough){ RemovePants(true); wearing = false;} else {clean = true;}} –  Amicable Feb 26 '13 at 16:45
    
@Shog just curious, how long "featured" tag should stay? –  Shadow Wizard Apr 21 '13 at 15:34
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@Sha: on every meta site other than MSO, they're automatically removed after 30 days. I guess it's occasionally useful to not have that limit here (for stuff like the recent feature changes list), but since I didn't realize that script wasn't active here I wasn't doing any cleanup on obsolete stuff either. –  Shog9 Apr 21 '13 at 15:47
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7 Answers

I think it is great that you guys are rewarding the top users.

But I don't think they really need it. Being a top user is a reward in itself and these users have already been proven as self-motivated loyalists.

You should reward the users who fall in the middle (start with whatever page I am on? ;) ) because I think they would respond better to such incentives and elevate them to become hard core users.

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This. Please, this. I don't think I'll be a top-5 user in the near - or even distant - future. On the other hand, I'd probably kill a hobo for a SO shirt. –  mikeTheLiar Jan 10 '13 at 19:17
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@mike - would you kill a unicorn for it? –  Lix Jan 10 '13 at 19:19
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I'd kill unicorns and attempts at parsing HTML with regex for a SO hoodie... –  Makoto Jan 10 '13 at 19:24
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@Lix everyone knows you can't kill a unicorn. Pfft. –  mikeTheLiar Jan 10 '13 at 19:24
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Have CodeReview.SE generate a random choice algo for all users over 1000 rep (c'mon, serious participation only) and draw 180 users off that list? ;-) –  jcolebrand Jan 10 '13 at 19:43
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@jcolebrand Now that is an idea. Give all serious users a chance at happyness! –  Austin Henley Jan 10 '13 at 19:44
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Last year I got a T-shirt and a pen. I only wore the T-shirt once to a meetup, but the pen has been in my pocket constantly and the logo has completely worn off. It's a daily reminder of my involvement on Stackoverflow. Surely they could afford to send those to a few more pages of users? –  Mark Ransom Jan 12 '13 at 3:59
    
My pen was actually stolen from me. Grrr –  Sean Patrick Floyd Jan 12 '13 at 17:21
    
Totally agree, I won a SuperUser t-shirt a while back and wear it with pride, would also kill for a SO t-shirt! –  JMK Jan 13 '13 at 14:57
    
Please also consider there are tags where even as an expert you can't earn much rep because the frequency is too low, even with the most superb answers –  MikeD Feb 1 '13 at 19:29
    
I'm afraid I'm no longer qualified to catch a unicorn. @Lix. –  TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Mar 19 '13 at 17:47
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I agree with Austin. The top users have gotten a lot of (justly deserved!) swag by now.

What about everyone else, particularly the avid users who won't ever make it to page 1 2 or 3, but love learning with their peers on Stack Overflow, too?

It might be more interesting to pick at random from long time users (2 years or more?) who have more than, say, 5k rep, and have posted a question or answer in the last 3 months.

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Good idea, but that sounds a tiny bit too random to me. An alternative (or additional) suggestion: pick users who do a lot of edits, reviews, voting, tag wiki editing, retagging, etc. but have relatively little rep. Eg. those tireless janitors who take care of less frequented tags. Or Meta-Heads who don't come close to being on the first pages on the main site - I could think of a few who have done a lot for the entire network over the past couple of years –  Pëkka Jan 12 '13 at 17:04
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Yeah, you guys are right. Straight up top user swag doesn't quite work anymore. We're gonna try something different next year. –  Anna Lear Jan 12 '13 at 17:12
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@pekka Yes! Meta heads! Please! I want MSO-branded waffles! –  Manishearth Jan 12 '13 at 17:20
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@AnnaLear - Even if we live on Stack Overflow like Jon Skeet does, no one who isn't already on the site's top 2 or 3 pages will ever end up in the top 5 category. Jon Skeet could likely take a week off and still hit, or come close to hitting, the rep cap. We can't compete with this. With that said, kudos to the top 5 users! They do a great job, and this statement isn't intended to say we don't appreciate what they do. –  jmort253 Jan 12 '13 at 21:12
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I agree with @jmort253 here. While on other sites (like Physics), it is still possible to get to the top 2 pages easily, it is extremely hard to do so on sites like SOFU, AU, and the other big guys. Ranking by "most upvotes on Q/As posted in the last <time period>" would be better, IMO. –  Manishearth Jan 13 '13 at 5:21
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I'd like the participation criteria to be a bit more defined, but I'm all for this. The system should pick some folks each quarter that have contributed positively across the board (posted a few questions or answers, used some of their votes, reviewed a few posts, approved or rejected a few edits, participated on meta by voting or posting, etc). Give some of the people that give a bit of their time a surprise. It's a nice thing to do. –  Tim Post Jan 13 '13 at 13:31
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This also adds another bar to the achievement ladder "Eligible for the quarterly swag lottery" –  Tim Post Jan 13 '13 at 13:32
    
@jmort253 I disagree. –  Luchian Grigore Jan 15 '13 at 21:31
    
@Pekka웃, most especially meta-heads who invented the term (I think...) EDIT: Oops, no, and he's on page 1 anyway :( –  Benjol Feb 12 '13 at 9:29
    
@AnnaLear I'd love to see swag for the top X users within specific tags over the last Y period (1 year?). It would encourage users to specialize within their language/tags and provide more great answers according to their expertise. I mean, the top guy in Lisp or Pascal is probably nowhere near the top guys in C# or PHP, but they still deserve some recognition. –  Rachel Feb 27 '13 at 16:40
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I love that you guys are coming up with new, and creative swag. But I would love to see a new effort made by the Stack Exchange team to get this stuff up for sale to the general public (or to any user with over 30K rep).

If manually running the Stack Exchange store caused too much trouble, why not outsource to someplace like Cafe Press? It seems they're quite good at setting up sub-stores for companies doing just this.

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It was delivered yesterday. After the shirts, stickers, pens, mugs, laptop bag, etc, finally something from Stack Exchange which my kids could appreciate.

kids playing cronhole

"Thank you!" on behalf of my kids :)

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Which one's winning? :) –  Rocket Hazmat Mar 19 '13 at 17:52
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Hardware swag is all cool, but it has some serious drawbacks.

  • It's costly to do a lot of it (and SO has a lot of users)
  • It's problematic to ship to less-civilized countries in Europe (I live in one)

But I think it doesn't quite matter what you get; it's the intention that makes even small gifts matter. So why, for example, don't award something like anniversary badge (which has virtually no cost) to all of users meeting certain criteria - in general, people who made SO such an awesome community for all these years. I've seen it done in several communities so far, and it was rather appreciated; even if it's just a small icon in the profile.

I mean, Winter Hats were great, but right now they're gone. I think it would be nice to have something to hang on my profile that would remain there, and distinguish the regulars from any person who made an account recently.

And there's another upside to this: nobody meeting the criteria would be sad because he just didn't get lucky.

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Yeah, a "signed in on the anniversary" or "posted a question or an answer" or "did SOMETHING on the site on the anniversary" kinda badge sounds like a nice idea. –  Anna Lear Jan 12 '13 at 17:11
    
Well, they have decided that they are willing to spend the money necessary to overcome the drawbacks you mention. Seeing as that is already in the works, isn't receiving some real-world swag much, much cooler than a badge? –  Pëkka Jan 12 '13 at 17:12
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@Pekka, as far as I'm concerned, these two aren't mutually exclusive. Why not both? :) –  Bartek Banachewicz Jan 12 '13 at 17:12
    
@Bartek fair enough :) –  Pëkka Jan 12 '13 at 17:13
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There is a Yearling badge. –  Benjol Feb 12 '13 at 9:17
    
@Benjol It applies to the individual being on SO for a year, so it's his anniversary, rather than SO's ;) –  Bartek Banachewicz Feb 12 '13 at 9:54
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If there is interest in spreading this out a bit to more people, how about ordering users based only on rep earned from posts during that last year? Maybe this could be in addition to the top 5 overall.

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if you look at the Super User "best new user / question / answer this month" anniversary contests, they were quite effective. Some of those winning users went on to be top all time users. blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/… –  Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '13 at 5:14
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I'm sorry but you epically failed with this. I received my game and three Stack Overflow stickers. Three? Seriously. You have to send just one. Now I can't stick them on my case and use them as a counter as to how long I've been continually awesome, because last time I had one and now I have three, so it's no longer a correct measurement.

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I'm sorry to hear that you're disappointed with your fourth anniversary SO gift. To remedy this situation, I will be happy to take the items off your hands at no cost to you. –  Pops Feb 26 '13 at 15:48
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Why not just give the other 2 stickers away? I'll take them! –  Rocket Hazmat Feb 26 '13 at 15:48
    
But that's not enough, because I could have kept them, and I can't know if anybody else gave theirs away. –  DeadMG Feb 26 '13 at 19:23
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They used to just throw fistfuls of stickers at anyone who asked, for no reason. They still give them out if you do the survey, and who knows what else –  Michael Mrozek Feb 26 '13 at 19:26
    
@MichaelMrozek they don't do that anymore? –  Pops Mar 15 '13 at 14:11
    
@PopularDemand No idea, they might –  Michael Mrozek Mar 15 '13 at 14:21
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