A Yuletide Scavenger Hunt: The Tale of the Hat-Seeking Missiles
My summary sentiment about this “Yuletide scavenger hunt” is that the hats were great, because people had a lot of great good fun trying to track them down, or finding new avatars that looked good with this or that hat.
Some hats were a lot harder to come by than you would think. On English.SE, the only site I actively pursued hats, even Monarch By Right was thrice as prevalent as even Brunhilde, which surprised me. Out of our 1,717 hats, we had around a dozen Just Jesting!, 7 Moshi Moshi, and 3 Monarch By Right, but not a single I Do Say and just one Brunhilde.
The funniest phrase to come out of it was when @Robusto coined “hat-seeking missile” to describe a posting that would never have been made but for the pursuit of hats.
Unlike reports I’ve read of Certain Other Sites, we at ELU didn’t seem to have a lot of lame “junk” questions asked in the pursuit of hats, one that would have garnered downvotes and closevotes for lameness. I don’t think the small quirks that hat-driven people would sometimes exhibit were all that bad.
What have you enjoyed?
I enjoyed having something new and fun to work towards. When it first premiered, everybody really got in the spirit of things, sometimes even helping each other out with that last vote needed for this or that hat.
The cool thing is that the increased level of participation meant that even the oldguard got into the act, contributing more than they normally would. No disrespect, but people can become jaded after a while, or incur “kindness fatigue”, and this banished that — for a time.
This probably sounds weird, but I also really liked the color that the hats brought to the site. I mean that quite literally. Yes, it is not tasteful to have garish colors, but it is definitely festive, like at a party. Plus the larger versions were really well done, with 3D shading and all.
The aspect of secret hats that you got just out of the blue was fun, too. It’s like suddenly scoring an Archaeologist badge when you weren’t even trying and didn’t know the thing existed in the first place.
In a bit of sweet irony, one of our moderators is named @nohat♦, and he managed to put the lie to his name by earning himself a Constantinopolitan. It was pretty funny to see a hat on nohat.
What would you like to see for next year?
I would like to see more surprise hats.
I would also like to see specially tailored per-site hats. I realize this is a lot of work, and that it does not scale unless somehow each site can develop its own.
What kept breaking for you but wasn't annoying enough for you to report?
I never did get the unicorn to appear, even though I thought I did all the right things, and even tried from several different browsers, just in case it was a browser bug. I had a hunch right from the start that the snow was some sort of video game, and I could push it around or banish it, but I never got it to do anything more than that.
Did you find all the secret hats?
I have no idea: there is no 100%-guaranteed-accurate list, so I do not know what I do not know, so to speak. I managed to get 33 hats on ELU alone, with only one from the standard set missing: the I Do Say hat.
After finding the 15-hat hat, Gotta Catch ’Em All!, I was expecting another at 30 hats, but that never panned out.
At first, people would try all kinds of things to try to uncover an hitherto unknown hats, from editing tag wikis to undeleting things to giving more than one answer to the same question. It made for some semi-odd behavior, but harmless I think.
Which was your favorite hat and why?
My first fave hat was certainly Just Jesting!, because it looked so cool after the borning-looking hats. After that for a long time is was Monarch By Right, just for the work it took to get it. Toward the end I liked Brunhilde, maybe because I was the only one to get it on ELU. I made a point of having a question about Beowulf go into its making, but there was no special hat for appropriateness.
Mostly I liked the hats that actually looked like hats of one sort or another. The only non-hats I like a lot were Spoiler Alert! and Moshi Moshi: their graphics were great. The Cat on the Hat! was pretty amusing, what with people walking around with a kitty sitting on their head.