I think there should only be a half dozen or so hats awarded for "normal use".


  • most users should be able to get all hats, so everyone can join in the fun - it's about participation, not a competition
  • de-gamify the event. Having obscure or secret hats is counter productive, elitist and IMHO not in the spirit of the many "family events" that are happening at this time of year
  • lose the leader board! Why is there even a leader board? If we don't want gamification of hats, why do we have a leader board?
  • lose the hat count on the user profile page too! Don't score what shouldn't be scored. Maybe have a row of a few hats to chose from, not yet awarded hats are greyed out. Click on the one you want to wear. Simple

Suggested examples of events that unlock hats:

  • an answer is accepted
  • a comment gets 5 votes
  • use the site 5 days in a row
  • a question gets 5 votes
  • an answer gets 5 votes

And maybe one or two slightly tougher ones, but nothing too crazy:

  • hit rep cap
  • review one of each kind
  • 1
    loled: "counter productive". Wait what. Hats weren't for fun?
    – sehe
    Jan 4, 2014 at 2:56
  • 24
    "Buaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, mommy, he has a hat I don't have!!!!!!!!!" Jan 4, 2014 at 2:57
  • 1
    I often find games annoying because I can't complete them in 5 minutes Jan 4, 2014 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


IMO there is some merit to making the secret hats less secretive - I have to admit to a bunch of random behaviour on the SE network while trying to unlock (esp secret) hats, e.g.

  • joining SE sites to which I have no real interest or qualification
  • lurking over fellow SO members' profiles trying to figure how they got their secret hats
  • and adding unconstructive chirpy comments (esp here in Meta) in search of comment upvotes
  • by making minor or unnecessary edits to old and CW posts
  • posting random Xmas and New Years dreck to chat whilst under the influence

And I know a lot of other SE network members were doing much the same, so there is substance that some of the hats encourage annoying or counterproductive behaviour.

But fewer hats? No way! Winterbash is one of the highlights of my festive season. IMO its bigger than Xmas and New Year combined :D

And re: Lose the leaderboard : I remember seeing a certain Bohemian at the top of the SO leaderboard yesterday? That's like winning the US Open and breaking the trophy so it can't be won the following year :)

  • 1
    Actually I was on top of the SO leaderboard the previous year too :)
    – Bohemian
    Jan 4, 2014 at 12:40
  • 1
    I do believe a couple of the non-secret 2014 hats were counterproductive - even marginally poor questions were being met by a torrent of downvotes (-15 wasn't uncommon). Fortunately this seems to have tailed off as folk now have their hats.
    – StuartLC
    Dec 17, 2014 at 4:27

I don't agree.

Hats are good the way they are. You are not supposed to win them all, anyway. I think they are meant to spur you (re)discover other/old functionality of the website you might have forgot or got bored of.

If you don't like the hats feature, just don't participate. The hats count doesn't matter, it's how you live the experience.


I've argued that Stack Exchange isn't quite a game. But Winter Bash is a game. Hats are strictly temporary, so the only point of event is to lift spirits in the short, dreary days of winter. (Or the long, bright days in the Southern Hemisphere, I suppose.) We designed it to be extremely challenging and to have minimal impact on the operation of the sites. The game isn't designed for new users (who are presumably still enjoying the game aspects of the standard system). It's designed for people who have, perhaps, gotten bored with the vanilla system.

The original event was heavily inspired by the Team Fortress 2 Halloween event. I personally find myself coming back to TF2 every year around the end of October just to see what the devs thought up. I don't consider myself a particularly dedicated player, but I do enjoy the extra challenge. It's probably more exciting for people who have mastered the game.

I'll be honest. When we thought up the hats and how they were earned, I was certain that nobody could get all 45. That Logan M missed only the moderator hat is astounding. If the game were easier, we'd never know what was possible for a dedicated user to achieve. What you suggest would be like requiring basketball to be played with an 8 foot rim. Sure I'd have more fun (even I could slam dunk at that height), but I wouldn't pay good money to see that game.

  • 1
    They could still have a bunch of basic hats to help get the new users involved. Jan 4, 2014 at 5:46
  • Each month should offer its own unique temporary gravatar modifier in my opinion. Perhaps just you know, offer a fan a half court shot during half time for a few bucks? Everyone likes to see that.
    – Travis J
    Jan 4, 2014 at 8:01

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