We are only a few hours into Winter Bash 2014, and already almost all the secret hats have been found and understood.

This is all very well, but it leads to a very rapid spike of posts and votes (not necessarily useful ones) to copy them. And this definitely causes annoyance to some folks (especially mods) as they try and minimise the mess to normal running of the site over the festive period.

As they are all explained at the end of Winter Bash anyway, I'd like to see more complex requirements for some - which would need you to show quite a few of the positive behaviours, not just one.

That way you would find it much more difficult to identify which action caused the hat to appear, and encourage activity (positive activity, if the behaviours rewarded are positive)

Also - it makes it more of a technical challenge/game/puzzle!

  • 25
    How do you know the rumored 8 "secret" badges aren't just decoys—low hanging fruit to satiate the impatient and greedy masses? Maybe the real gems are actually secret and still out there to be mined.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 14:44
  • 2
    Rory: Ask this again once you've got all the secret hats, including Hair Boat. Or was this just a ploy to get Business in the front, party in the back?
    – fredley
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 14:48
  • caleb and fredley ... :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 14:51
  • 1
    Why do the hats of 2015 need to be fancier? Just askin’.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 2:44
  • 2
    Maybe we should just get more puzzling hats on Puzzling. Or people could go there for the answers...
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 5:59
  • 1
    tchrist - not fancier, just more challengine
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 7:53
  • 1
    Kevin - interesting idea. I like it.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 7:54
  • So should we just flag this so it can be marked status-declined?
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 19:49
  • I dunno, Adam - do we fully know Flip-Flop: meta.stackexchange.com/a/271526/154443
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 12:29

3 Answers 3


I agree on this one. I don't know if it was only an impression of mine, but this year the hats rules seemed simpler.

I have actually wondered why the secret hats are always related to edit or something similar. Winterbash 2012 had an easter egg that under certain condition displayed an unicorn on the Bash site: why can't hat be awarded for such things?

There are many more complex rules that could be implemented without drifting in insanity... Arqade chat has the Asteroid game egg.... award an hat for a specific highscore maybe?

That said, we shouldn't forget that hat should be used also to promote some behaviours... edits, correct votes and such so it is compressible that the award rules are related.

IMHO, the common hats should be related to correct behaviours, while the secret ones could be very intricate, while still not destructive.

I fully understand though that devs probably don't want to lose to much time for an event that lapse about 3 weeks...


I agree that the hats could be more complex. For example, there has always been a rep cap hat and I think that encourages users to contribute in a positive manner.

This year there are two for downvoting and it seems to not only be less complex, but also seems not to incentiveize users towards positive interaction.

While more complexity would be nice, I think it would also be nice to encourage more constructive hats as well. Rep capping, specific review types, answering unanswered questions, accepted answer with conditions, etc.

However, I also understand that these more complex hats led to users bending the rules in order to obtain them. And while the actions of the complex hats may have seemed to be constructive, the results were perhaps at times not constructive.

It is hard to see where the balance is struck between constructive encouragement, and user collusion.

  • Why should more complex hats lead user to bend rules? It all depend on what rules you implement... As I suggested if you implement a rule for "highscore on asteroid game" that has no impact on the user behaviour (well, you would get a spam of "Insert Coin" messages on Arqade, but that's all ^_^) Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 11:16
  • Anyway, I totally agree with the other question: why removing the rep cap hat and have downvote incentives? Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 11:17
  • @SPArchaeologist - Last year there was a user ring that was upvoting each others posts, and actively trying to get hats such as switch accepted answer, etc. Asteroids are single player, voting on posts is not, so I am not sure how that analogy was applicable.
    – Travis J
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 18:43
  • Most award rules can be bent to cause damage to the community. What I meant with the asteroid sample is that you could minimize damage by awarding hats for activities that do no impact the main site (for example, playing asteroids on Arqade - that assuming the easter egg still works) Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 8:54

One of the reasons that the hats are simpler (2014) is that there is no longer a three-tiered theme the way there was last year (2013).

For example, there were hats for asking 5 questions, 10 questions, and 15 questions, and the same for answering them. Moreover, you needed upvotes.

There were also hats for rep-capping the first time and then for a bunch of times.

None of those exists any longer. I miss them, because it actually improved the quality of questions on some sites, as hat-hounds went for the question-asking hats by asking good questions.

The graphics on the new hats (2014) don’t seem so fabulous-looking as last year’s, but this may either be subjective or else due to new requirements involving sizing and placement. There were some very attractive hats last year (2013).

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