Hats are like badges you can wear, it's well known. Badges exist to encourage and reward positive behavior and contributions; in theory the same goes for hats, including the hidden ones.

I'm willing to accept "meaningless fun" for Hairboat's Revenge, but that one aside, what's the motivation behind each of the Winter Bash 2015 hats?

I think it would be nice if each hat had its raison d'être explicitly shown in its description. Because for the less obvious ones, gaming the system to earn them can be tempting; I think being aware of the thought process that lead to a hat's existence could only be healthy and beneficial.

  • 9
    cough Sun Wukong cough Timey Wimey cough
    – Doorknob
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:23
  • @Doorknob冰 I want Sun Wukong! How the heck do I get that bugger...
    – hellyale
    Dec 17, 2015 at 1:41
  • 2
    @hellyale this post, at +10/-17 for example, would have earned that hat this year. Dec 17, 2015 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


Questions about the origins/purpose of the hats have come up a few different ways in a few different places this year. I was planning on including a fairly detailed rundown at the end of the event. I think at one point I said in the blog post, although I've realized the post-mortem on meta would probably be better. I'll give a quick summary here, though.



Sufganiyot, A New Hope, The Airing of Grievances, O Tannenbaum, Auld Lang Syne

These are all for little more than showing up. Basically to let everyone get in on a few hats even if they're not super-hardcore about Winter Bash or even about Stack Exchange.


Every! Body! Gets! A Hat!, Specialist Hatsman, Fan-hat-ic

Hats about hats!? Mostly just for fun. I thought different communities might get into friendly competitions to see who would get Every! Body! Gets! A Hat! first. Specialist Hatsman is kind of a bonus for people who are really into Winter Bash. Fan-hat-ic is too, and it's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek nod to people who've complained that the Fanatic badge is too hard.


Cerro de Potosi, El Dorado, Hat Trick

All things that are existing rewards in the system, that we're just giving a bonus reward for.


Carl Fredricksen

No downvotes means you did a good job that day. Upvotes help limit the hat to people who were active.


be helpful and welcoming to new users with strong edits

Do You Even Lift?

Er, upvoted answers are good? Possibly the most self-explanatory "positive goal" of any hat this year.

Melpomene, Thalia

Closing, reopening, deleting and undeleting are important parts of the SE ecosystem.

I'm Batman

Encourage people to think of on-hold and closed questions as posts that need some extra love and improvement, not garbage to be hated and ignored.

Living in the Future

Look how much you've grown over the past at-least-a-few-days!

Speedy Delivery

Get people good answers quickly. Probably ties with DYEL for most self-explanatory "positive goal."

Do it Yourself

Sharing your knowledge is a good thing, whether it's a tricky problem from your past or a case of "searched for half a day, couldn't figure it out, finally gave up and posted to SE, then realized the answer 15 minutes later."


On occasion, accepted answers are good but incomplete, become obsolete over time or are just plain wrong.



If you're looking for a hat to complain "there's no good reason!" about this year, this is probably your best bet. This one's pretty much just a shout-out to our mobile team.

Field Work

Not all sites are programming-related. There's a use case in some of our heads where people will be in the garden or the kitchen and come across a problem but there's no computer handy. That's what the mobile app is for; load up Gardening SE or Seasoned Advice and bang out a question from where you are. In the field, as it were.


Breaking this up into categories made more sense at the beginning.

Timey Wimey

Old posts tend to get forgotten, but they don't always have perfect spelling/grammar/formatting/tags. Or answers, for that matter. They deserve sprucing up, and maybe the bump will even get some new/better info for them.


This one's also closer to the "just for fun" side. A reminder that we have an on-site search feature, because people (including us) joke so much that our real search feature is Google.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Same reason we have Suffrage, Vox Populi and Electorate. Voting is core to our system.

Weed Eater

Giving authors of tumbleweed questions second chances at getting help.


Branch out! Try new things! Maybe there's a new site since last year that you don't know about but you're actually interested in!



This was carried along from previous years more from tradition than anything else. It's meant to be fun for the most hardcore hat fans but has probably outlived its time (or at the very least needs an implementation overhaul).

Flip Flop

This belongs in the participation category above, it's just down here because it's a secret hat.

Hairboat's Revenge

There's no positive behavior associated with this, it's purely an in-joke.

Cleanup Crew

There are a lot of comments on the sites that live forever, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but doesn't match the original goal of comments. They were supposed to be lightweight, second-class content that stuck around just long enough to point out things that needed fixing/clarifying. This hat was supposed to motivate people to get rid of some of the obsolete cruft hanging around under old posts.


This serves the dual purposes of encouraging good close voting and increasing awareness of the dupe-hammer privilege.

It's Always 5 O'Clock Somewhere

This one's also just for fun.


We do a lot to encourage improvement, but not so much to reward existing awesomeness. Mostly because reputation increases already do that. This hat rewards awesomeness, though. A question that gets no comments was written clearly and completely on the first try. An answer that gets no comments can say the same, and reaching a score of seven proves that it's got good content as well. So the asker gets an awesome answer, and the answerer gets a cool hat (plus the usual reputation increase)!

It's Over 9000!

It's difficult to directly correlate views to quality, but there is a relationship there; generally speaking, more views tends to be better.

Onion Knight

This served basically the same purpose as any "get upvotes" hat, plus it reminded people that anonymous feedback existed.

Flying Tiger

This was basically the highly successful Red Baron hat from last year, version 1.1. The benefit should be obvious; it attracts content so good that it improves posts around it.

Sun Wukong

There have been multiple requests for a Winter Bash hat for meta controversy. Here's one; here's another. I was especially supportive of the idea because I once proposed a badge for essentially the same thing. That proposal explains the benefit:

These criteria indicate problematic posts on normal SE sites, where votes are cast based on post quality. On Meta sites, though, votes indicate level of agreement, and such posts are generally suggestions that people are conflicted on. In practice, they tend to lead to good, insightful explanations of how the sites work or why certain changes should/shouldn't be made.

Edward Edwards

Many times, people don't answer questions that have already been answered, especially when the existing answers have already been upvoted. This is particularly true of bountied questions. But if you have something useful to contribute, you should go ahead and do it!

Amazing Grace

As far as positive behaviors go, this boils down to just writing a good meta post. The Grace Hopper/bug stuff, while important in other contexts, is just window dressing.

  • I said "I was planning on including a fairly detailed rundown at the end of the event" and I still am; I'm just getting through replies to existing posts first. Like this one. And also the list of what the hats were named after.
    – Pops
    Jan 7, 2016 at 21:21

A New Hope | Sufganiyothe | Airing of Grievances | Vote Early, Vote Often | O Tannenbaum |

Helps by making sure users vote on questions and answers, ensuring that SE is nicely moderated during this season. Airing of Grievances though would ensure that users are participating and helping out in Meta sites, which not a lot of people go to.

Timey Wimey | I'm Batman

Editing is crucial for helping keeping posts clear and of good-quality, which is probably why this hat exists today. Editing posts can also help reopen them, which is a nice thing to do and can sure help a lot of other users out there.

Thalia | Melpomene

Users should delete and close bad-quality posts but reopen and undelete good-quality posts that now have meaning.


Be nice and greet new users with some niceness! Greet them with a upvote (if needed) and help make their post better by editing it! This should help new users a lot better.

Wireless | Fieldwork

This encourages people to download the apps and help SE fix the multiple bugs that lay around the software code. Also reduces the need for the computers and encourages SE on-the-go.

Do It Yourself | Living in the Future

Encourages self-answering and creating high-quality posts. Not a lot of people try to self-answer, and even fewer make good-quality posts.

Cerro de Potosi | El Dorado

Encourages other to pursue badges though there might be some side effects, most badges encourage good moderation and activity on SE.

Specialist Hatsman | Every! Body! Gets! A Hat!

Encourages to help your site out with Winter Bash, which can be very fun and useful (in terms of moderation, etc.).

Do You Even Lift? | Speedy Delivery | Copernicus | Weed Eater

Encourages answering with high-quality posts and helping other users get answers fast (Speedy Delivery) which is important in SE and have their questions finally answered (Weed Eater). Also encourages answering even though there is an accepted answer, which tend to shoo away answerers.

Carl Fredicksen | Hat Trick

Encourages users to gain lots of rep, which in turn means a lot of high-quality posts being created.

Auld Lang Syne

Encourages users to be in chat, a very good place to know others better and to socialize!


Use the search option if you need to! Encourages users to use the search option to find the needed posts easier and quicker.


Encourages users to be active on SE and participate and moderate and all that good stuff.


Encourages new users to create high-quality questions.

Secret Hats

To be continued...

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