8

I realise I'm a bit late with this suggestion... It's too late to apply it to 2015, so treat it as a thought for 2016.

Most sites are very positive about the "Winter Bash" hat-related activity. Some sites have users voicing concerns that it doesn't fit the "serious professionals" brand they're trying to build, but the vast majority of sites don't opt out.

Currently, the choice is between:

  1. Everyone is opted-in by default. Individual users can choose to opt out, with an "I hate hats" button in the footer.
  2. Everyone is opted-out. No users can opt in.

Option 1 is obviously the fairer choice in most cases, and option 2 is chosen in rare cases (e.g. MathOverflow) where it's worried that the mere sight of hats will put off serious-minded users.

But even on sites like MO, looking at the meta threads, it looks like there are quite a few users who'd quite enjoy the opportunity.

Also, it looks like there are a few sites that are borderline - they are concerned about putting off serious-minded users, but they also don't want to prevent regular users from having fun.


Wouldn't it be better if the site-by-site choice was between:

  1. Everyone is opted-in by default. Individual users can choose to opt out, with an "I hate hats" button in the footer.
  2. Everyone is opted-out by default. Individual users can choose to opt in, with a discrete "Enable hats" button in the footer.

To be clear, opted-out users in both cases neither see the hats of others nor receive hats themselves.

This way:

  • No users are prevented from joining in.
  • On sites where there is a concern that hats will deter serious professionals, individual users choosing to opt in will in no way affect the experience of other users who don't opt in
  • On sites where there is a real concern that it might be off-putting, it's possible to maintain the serious brand without dictating that users can't have hats
18

Before I begin, let me state that I am decidedly pro-hat.

But I do think that if a site decides against participating, then that should be a fairly strict decision. I'll quote Normal Human's comment on the math.se Winter Bash 2015 thread:

Some effects of Winter Bash are still visible to those who opt out, due to the actions that users take to earn certain hats.

Some of these actions may be less welcome than others. A fairly benign one was last year's "HairBoat" secret hat, which was earned by responding to one of abby hairboat's posts or comments on the site. In some cases this resulted in very long comment threads consisting of variants of "@abby: can haz hat pleze?". There were also downvoting-related hats, which caused a very noticeable spike in downvotes on math.se (and I'm sure other sites as well). The "30 Minutes or Less" hat probably inspired a lot of bikeshed-type questions in order to attract at least five answers in half-an-hour. While the hats wouldn't be noticed by the opted-out users, these actions certainly left a mark on the site.

Opting in to Winter Bash means opting in site-wide to these hat-oriented antics. Conversely, if a site decides against participating what they are saying, at least in part, is that these antics would not be welcome. Having an optional per-user opt in would mean that these antics still occur — albeit on a smaller scale — and won't go unnoticed by the community which decided against it.

  • Good point well made. I don't understand all this deliberate hat-hunting but it's clear that some people do do it – user56reinstatemonica8 Dec 8 '15 at 13:17
  • 2
    @user568458 Deliberate hat-hunting is just a variant of deliberate badge-hunting, or reputation-hunting. In short, a consequence, if not a part, of gamification. – user642796 Dec 8 '15 at 14:25
  • Those baffle me too! But yes they definitely exist and I see why sites might want choose to prevent such behaviour – user56reinstatemonica8 Dec 8 '15 at 15:17
10

This is already the case (and has been every year). All of your three options are… well, options :)

  1. Everyone is opted-in by default. Individual users can choose to opt out, with an "I hate hats" button in the footer.
  2. Everyone is opted-out by default. Individual users can choose to opt in, with a discrete "Enable hats" button in the footer.
  3. Everyone is opted-out. No users can opt in.

– except that the love/hate button isn't in the footer (this was incorrect in the moderator notification we sent out), but in the Winter Bash menu behind an extra top bar icon:

snowflake icon in the top bar

  • 1
    Interesting. After going through the Winter Bash emails from the previous three years I cannot see any mention of sites deciding between three options: only opt-in or opt-out, with one or the other being default in case of no communication. While there has always been mention of "I hate hats", its complement hasn't been mentioned for opt-out sites. I guess I'll have to keep a closer eye on MathOverflow during this year's event. – user642796 Dec 8 '15 at 18:49
  • I've never seen this in any of the meta posts I've seen. If this is how it works, maybe it could have been better communicated... – user56reinstatemonica8 Dec 9 '15 at 14:44
  • 1
    I thought that if a site (like MO) opted out, nobody could play, and that there was exactly one case (SO) where hats were enabled but off by default. You're saying that even people on MO can have hats if they want them? – Monica Cellio Dec 13 '15 at 19:07
  • @MonicaCellio No (or yes, depending on which part of your comment I'm responding t to), MO is a 3) case. SO is 2), and all other sites are 1). – balpha Dec 13 '15 at 19:21
  • 1
    Then I don't think this is status-completed; the question asks for state 3 to not exist, allowing anybody to have or avoid hats anywhere on the network. – Monica Cellio Dec 13 '15 at 19:27
  • @MonicaCellio My interpretation is that the important thing it asks is for 2) to exist. But you're right, in your interpretation it would be status-declined. – balpha Dec 13 '15 at 19:37
  • @balpha Would it be possible for option 2) to be enabled for other sites? (provided that there is support from the community and/or the moderators) – wythagoras Dec 4 '16 at 10:09
  • @wythagoras Yes, that is possible. – balpha Dec 4 '16 at 10:15

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