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At this point, I am relatively confident that Winter Bash will become an annual event. The event is oodles of fun for our communities, and almost everything we do as employees in putting the event together is done with an eye toward repeatability and automation.

With that in mind, I see a lot of feature requests come through on MSO and child metas that are great ideas, but simply not possible (or not worthwhile) to implement for this year's event. The same happens with minor bugs that give Winter Bash a few rough edges without disrupting functionality - they often get left behind on the "eh, maybe next year, if there's time" list.

Reader, this is that list.

What tweaks and feature requests have come up this year that we should keep in mind for next year?


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Getting a real hat at our postal address for each hat earn here. LOL – user219322 Dec 24 '13 at 18:12
@SantaClaus That is your job. – syb0rg Dec 24 '13 at 18:21
@syb0rg I am on holidays next year. – user219322 Dec 24 '13 at 18:29
Doge hats...... – Cole Johnson Dec 24 '13 at 20:30
@JonSkeet should hand deliver hats to us all.... – user234239 Dec 25 '13 at 3:23
@Scrooge +1 for Jon Skeet being next Santa Claus – user219322 Dec 25 '13 at 11:05
NEEDS MORE HATS. – Emrakul Dec 31 '13 at 10:19
We should probably have a new post for 2015... – Oded Dec 15 '14 at 13:04
Yes, we need a new one for 2015. People probably already have ideas. – Laura Dec 15 '14 at 15:57
I need a hairboat hat. – Jarrod Dixon Dec 16 '14 at 4:13

37 Answers 37

I was trying to see which hats I earned last year, but couldn't. Please add the ability to see my hats from prior years.

+1 I agree – qwertynl Dec 24 '13 at 20:03
I thought part of the idea of Hat Dash is that it is transitory. Isn't making a permanent record of them somewhat against the carefree fun of it? – Mr.Wizard Dec 24 '13 at 21:54
@Mr.Wizard - I respectfully disagree. The fun of SE is being able to see everything that has been done. I want to show off my shiny badges, points, hats, and so on... – chue x Dec 24 '13 at 21:57
I personally would really like that, cos i finished on top of the SO leader board last year, so it would give me a bragging link – Bohemian Dec 24 '13 at 23:03
@Bohemian one of my co-moderators on Mathematica is against Winter Bash because he feels people game it too much and therefore it encourages bad behavior. I didn't really see his point at first but your attitude really helps his case. I am now strongly against making a permanent record of these as IMHO nobody should be bragging about these. Unlike badges which generally are for desirable behavior (though there have been a lot of problems with the review queue) the hats are just for fun and are often "awarded" for things that are neither positive or negative. – Mr.Wizard Dec 25 '13 at 11:38
@Mr.Wizard actually I agree with you, but if you make something look like s game (winter bash has prizes for criteria = game), then you can't blame people for playing that game. I think the hats should be easy to win with normal use and be few in number. And if you don't want a "game", why the heck is there a "leader board"??? – Bohemian Dec 25 '13 at 11:51
@Bohemian I guess my point is that it should be a lighthearted game, and the hats should be surprises as much as possible, rather than people clawing and scratching for some "award." I feel that having all the hats disappear after Winter Bash (with no record) helps discourage the latter types. – Mr.Wizard Dec 25 '13 at 11:58
I don't really want to see this. It would add a sense of permanent loss. "Here are these awards we all got. Look, you can't have them. Ha-ha. We don't even remember what half of 'em are for." – Emrakul Dec 31 '13 at 10:21
I'm a hoarder. All the above points are valid and I don't even disagree with them particular, but I want to keep my hard-earned hats, goddammit! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 1 '14 at 16:36

A brief description of why you earned a secret hat. You don't have to give the exact formula, but perhaps a clever clue as to why you might have honored me with, say Chuck Yeager.

Indeed, clever descriptions would make all of the secret hats more interesting.

The issue is that the description can then be gleaned by others too with a bit of url manip. Though they could make it require a session cookie. But I found that figuring out the secret hats after getting them was fun too. – Manishearth Dec 25 '13 at 2:46
This seems OK when the descriptions are like "getting five of the most useless points on the web". – Pavel Dec 1 '14 at 15:03
That looks like a beret – random Dec 24 '13 at 19:14
An eminently edible beret. – Robert Harvey Dec 24 '13 at 20:05
How about smarter criteria for all hats that result in some amount of (good-natured or malignant) abuse of the system - for example by adding "have you been a good kid" criteria where a part of the threshold must have been fulfilled during the entire year preceding the bash? – Pëkka Dec 25 '13 at 0:34
No, a bacon hat would be better. Especially rainbow bacon. – The Guy with The Hat Apr 17 '14 at 19:23

Display when each awarded hat was earned.

You earned this hat on <site> at <timestamp>

For interest, but also to make it possible/easier to figure out how secret hats can be won


There was a question asked here recently:

What are the fantasy secret hats you'd wish to get?

It would be neat to see some of those community-created hat ideas included next year.


I think you guys need a more interesting leaderboard. There are a lot of people who are tied for a bunch of different ranks. Considering there's only around 50 (?) hats, it's rather hard to rank users just by number of hats. Maybe you guys could come up with some more creative way to rank the users to break all the ties?

Some factors:

  • Time the user received each hat.
  • Number of sites a user has each hat (for the global leaderboard).
On the network leaderboard, they actually have a secondary ordering based on the total number of hats a user has earned. That just doesn't change your rank. But you can hover over the hat count to see the number. – balpha Dec 24 '13 at 18:45
Give hats a "hat-weight" based on difficulty to consider for the leaderboard. – Travis J Dec 24 '13 at 19:55
I have four hundred hats now, yippie! @balpha: thanks for mentioning that. I always hover over absolutely everything — except the places I should absolutely be hovering over. I was just going to post it as a separate request here. – ЯegDwight Dec 24 '13 at 23:46
@balpha Going with the tradition of hiding cool stuff behind tooltips, eh? :p – Manishearth Dec 25 '13 at 2:50

Cross-site hats

Award hats for participation across the network, e.g.:

"Ask a question with at least +2 score on five different Stack Exchange sites."

I know, the obvious question is "which site would you earn the hat on?" I'd suggest all of them (that you did something to earn it on, that is).


DISCLAIMER: These are my suggestions and my dreamy dreams. The fact that they're posted by an SE employee doesn't mean they will definitely get implemented for next year.

  • Wear-only mode. This is a mode that would allow users to wear their hats on a given site without earning them on that site. This would be useful for Area 51 and for private betas.
  • Changing the size and angle of a hat. This year we added the ability to reposition the hats on your avatar. Perhaps next year we can add some scale and angle capabilities.
I want to upvote the middle one, but not particularly the other two; mind splitting them, maybe? – Billy Mailman Dec 24 '13 at 17:57
To change the size world require vector graphics. And that would single out Enternet Ixplorer. – Cole Johnson Dec 24 '13 at 20:32
@ColeJohnson Those who use Enternet Ixplorer does not deserve hats. – Victor Stafusa Dec 24 '13 at 21:08
I think you guys mean internet exploder... – tjons Dec 26 '13 at 15:10
No, Internet Exploiter. – Peter Mortensen Jan 1 '14 at 19:26

Rotate the hat.

We can position the hat on the avatar. How hard would it be to add angle/rotation to the positioning, so I can wear my Santa hat on a rakish angle?

There will be those who want to wear their Chuck Yeagar upside down, because the man flew like that quite a bit.


The one I would really like to see, and asked for both years, was for one site-specific hat to be built in to Winterbash for each site.

For example on Security.SE we would really want a Black Hat, like this one specific to the Black Hat security conference (only different so we don't run into copyright problems)

enter image description here

(thanks to Zuly Gonzales for the pic)

What hat do you think would work on your favourite SE site? Would English have a Mortarboard? And what about DIY?

Physics has a hat for its own logo :P – Manishearth Dec 27 '13 at 10:57
Exactly - bring on some kind of sombrero attachment for Physics :-) – Rory Alsop Dec 27 '13 at 10:59
Perhaps this could be a secret hat, granted when someone "games" the hat granting algorithms... – AviD Dec 27 '13 at 10:59
hahahahahaha - that might set a bad example – Rory Alsop Dec 27 '13 at 11:00
Yes! Shouldn't also get a white hat though? French Language wants a beret. TeX - LaTeX should get a caret. – Gilles Dec 27 '13 at 12:33
White hat would be good too, yes :-) – Rory Alsop Dec 27 '13 at 13:56

In the review queue, there's a thing that pops out similar to the expanded usercards, but it's not quite one of them. Avatars on it have No Hats. And that's terrible:

My avatar, without his hat!

If this awesome, hat-filled celebration is going to become a regular thing, then these expanding card thingys (and anywhere else where avatars currently appear hatless) should have hats added to them.

I just tested this out on your expanded user-card, and you do have a hat on it. – syb0rg Dec 25 '13 at 0:09
@syb0rg Yeah, it works fine on usercards. Just not on the usercard-like things that pop out on /review. They're definitely not normal usercards, they don't have any of your about, show up for people regardless of rep, etc. – Billy Mailman Dec 25 '13 at 1:08
I'd say that's a bug, and you should report it as one. ISTR similar bugs (places that should show hats don't) getting fixed pretty quickly. – Ilmari Karonen Dec 25 '13 at 2:17
@IlmariKaronen as per This answer, it seems to have been a conscious decision, though I disagree with the idea that the hats would really obscure the stats all that much. – Billy Mailman Dec 25 '13 at 3:33

I'd like a way (other than inspecting them one at a time) to see which hats I received on a particular site. The combined list is nice, and I can see which site(s) I earned any given hat on by selecting it, but I'd like to do the reverse too -- choose a site and see the hats that came from there somehow. That would make it easier to select locally-earned hats to wear.

If per-site customization is too hard (I understand that this is a side project, not core functionality), the underlying request could also be addressed by showing the site icons under each hat in the list.


The ability to trade hats.

This is supposed to be "fun" and "not permanent" anyway, right? So, since it's all going to evaporate into an explosion of 1's and 0's just after New Year's, why can't I give my hat to someone, or trade my hat for theirs? That would be way cool to do, and you might accidentally make a new friend along the way.

Everyone donate your hats to Jon Skeet! – Cole Johnson Dec 24 '13 at 20:33
I predict that if this was allowed, someone would start selling hats for Bitcoins/Litecoins/Dogecoins. – Robin Green Jan 4 '14 at 20:49

Include a wizard's hat, and make it for something I am likely to achieve. <|:D


Let everyone choose one hat to carry on to the next year. Or make sure there will always be at least one cat hat out there!


Cats don't like winter. They also don't like being bashed (nor does anyone or anything else). So why would you think that cats could possibly go well with Winter Bash? – Donal Fellows Dec 24 '13 at 20:01
@DonalFellows They are cats. Cats is reason. Much reason. Very reason. Need more reason? – Sumurai8 Dec 24 '13 at 21:02
@Sumurai8 Cats don't need reason! They need fish! And warm chair to sleep in. And litter box… – Donal Fellows Dec 24 '13 at 21:56

Wear the hat minus the avatar.

So we can display just the hat. Those of us with those generated avatars (and who don't want to upload a photo) who select this option will simply have the hat shown in place of the avatar.

Workaround: upload a plain white (or transparent) square for an avatar. – hairboat Dec 26 '13 at 14:50

Next year should have tablet/mobile support for hats, especially with respect to repositioning the hat on your avatar.

Balpha answered over here that he wanted to do that this year but ran out of time; let's make time next year!

This is a thing! – kleinfreund Jan 1 '14 at 21:16

I was excited for Winter Bash this year, and it started off pretty fun. However, it became apparent within a few days that some fellow English Language & Usage users (including moderators) weren't exactly playing fairly. I think this is obvious to everyone by now but if not just take a look at and you'll immediately see 2 posts solely for gaming the meta-specific hats. There's also been examples of bounty-trading, deliberately creating questions to award Marauder hats, coordinating votes in chat, and maybe other things I'm not aware of.

To put it frankly, this made me really quickly not enjoy Winter Bash 2013 much at all, and I've come close to clicking "I hate hats". I thought this was supposed to be about helping out the sites we enjoy, but they've basically taken that out of the equation entirely. Most of what's going on there won't help the site in the long run, and some of it might even damage the site (if only slightly). Now, when I look at the leaderboards, I can't tell who is serious and who is cheating, and I've basically lost all motivation to try to get any more hats. It seems to me now that the way to get the most hats involves harming the site in some of the above ways, which is not something I'm going to do.

It would be good if stricter policing was enforced against cheaters. Maybe none of these people deserve suspensions for what they did, but at least the hats they unfairly got should be taken away. It would be hard to enforce all the rules network-wide, but at least the very blatant cases should be penalized. That would make it more fun for those of us who want to get hats fairly.

Along the same lines, hats like "Oh the Horror" were probably a bad idea to start with. Meta guru badges are normally basically impossible anywhere other than here. Few meta sites other than this one even have 40 regular voters. In my opinion hats should be equally obtainable on all sites, or at least as close to that as possible. I suspect that these sorts of practically impossible goals are a lot of what is causing people to cheat. Some people would cheat anyway, but if the hat required an answer with 15 upvotes rather than 40 I think most would try to get it fairly (and maybe moderators would be more willing to punish cheaters). If you want to make a hat like "Oh the Horror" that's effectively specific to one site, go all-out and make it actually specific to that site. Putting more thought into what sort of beneficial effect the hat is supposed to have on the site and making sure it has the desired effect even for smaller communities would really make a big difference in my opinion.

Sorry, I think you take the hats a little too seriously. It's not a contest who can gather the most hats. (You can treat is as such, but then, you can also treat rep and badges as a contest.) – Mr Lister Dec 26 '13 at 13:08

I would like to see the leaderboards retained. You cannot see what the leaderboard was from 2012 now, it would be nice to be able to see the 2013 leaderboard next year.

I also like the idea of being able to see which hats we earned in the previous year somewhere.

Being able to position your hat manually was pretty sweet, good job balpha! I hope that stays.

Perhaps there could also be another modifier? Like a badge modifier where if you earn the modifier then everyone's gold badges look like cookies, or silver badges look like snowflakes, etc. (or Star Wars emblems like SciFi has /jelly).

Winter Bash is a lot of fun :)


Hats on flair, either wear the hat or have a count of hats, or both.


This year added the option to reposition hats. Next year they should be resizable.

I noticed that quite a few people have hats too large for their heads, including me.


I wonder if this time of year is the best time for the hat rush. Yeah, I know it's the festive season, a time of joy etc. etc. but wouldn't it be suited to lighten up the real dark winter days, when there's no fun otherwise. Say, February. Then people would have something to look forward to, to offset the gray, dull, dreary days of winter.

Doing it during Christmas is fun of course, but it may interfere with real life.

"Hey, are you helping to decorate the tree or what?"
"Yeah yeah, just a sec! Only one more upvote!"

What is this real life thing you talk about? – karlphillip Dec 26 '13 at 15:29
Yes, February is the worst month of the year. This thing does not have to be tied to solstices, equinoxes or whatever. – Peter Mortensen Jan 1 '14 at 19:46

For these periodic, but short events, Winterbash, April Fool's, consider relaxing the number of days within which one can change one's profile name.

This would only be pertinent were someone to have changed their profile name for fun, without realising that is would not be possible to return it to the status quo prior to 22 January 2014.

I admit to having done this myself. I would like to look forward to short periods of fun at appropriate times in the future, without having to wait until 30 days later to return to normal.


A closet hat!

A secret hat where the winner of the hat gets to wear a hat they won in a previous year. criteria should probably involve an old post or a tag with few questions (or both).


Vigorously delete unofficial answers and comments that give out spoilers on how to receive secret hats.

Onholdificate questions which ask for instructions.

I know hats are fun, but secret hats are secret. Secrets should stay secret. Sorry.

Agreed. Also, as cool as the Eureka hat is, I feel like it sets up incentives in the wrong direction... – seaotternerd Dec 25 '13 at 10:22
Disagreed. Secret hats are no fun if they're handed out seemingly at random. I mean, most of them I still have no idea about. But I was able to give someone a Chuck Yeager, and that just felt good. – Mr Lister Dec 26 '13 at 13:17

Remove any "mod only" hats.

I want to be able to get them all!

Its quite simple. Become a mod :P – AsheeshR Dec 31 '13 at 9:47
Quite simple, you say? :o) – Ste Dec 31 '13 at 9:50

I need a new feature that allows us to overlay an equation on the hat. So MathJax support is really needed here.


A gallery of your avatar wearing all of your hats would be a great addition. That way, you can see what each hat would look like before choosing one.

And, at the end of the bash, when you take your screenshots, it also lets you have a really nice little family portrait gallery and an easy way to "save" them for your own amusement.


An export option. From the 2013 FAQ:

What happens after January 3rd?

After January 3rd, the sites go back to normal and all hats disappear. This is meant to be a fun end-of-year celebration, not a permanent addition to the site.

It could be cool to have a button to export the hats window to a png/pdf file, so people would completely "lose" their accomplishments. And yes, I am aware of the printscreen option. But having something built in would be much easier to use and would produce neater results.


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