Time based hats, e.g. A New Hope can be awarded as soon as 12-14 hours before the actual time stated in the hat description, as explained nicely here.

However, this is far from being trivial, and decent people who think they got the hat when they didn't deserve it, tend to report this as a bug. All of those are quickly closed as duplicate which is fine, but it's waste of time for both sides, and might cause some grief.

Why not try and avoid all of this by adding something like "(±12 hours)" to the description?

Also, even more important to add such a thing to the hat description in the Hat Rack on our profile, since that what's being opened upon clicking the snowflake hat item:

  • 3
    It's probably worth adding UTC then.
    – nicael
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:19
  • @nicael what do you mean? "December 18th, 00:00 UTC"? Not sure it's correct. Dec 17, 2015 at 15:19
  • Maybe even an asterisk, with a note at the bottom explaining the definition of a day according to hats? Dec 17, 2015 at 15:20
  • Ah wait, it's not really +-12, "14 hours before and 12 hours after the specified date in UTC". But "December 18th, 00:00 UTC" would be actually correct.
    – nicael
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:20
  • @nicael I know, but +-14 is wrong and +12/-14 is too complex. IMO 12 is a decent compromise, and if someone gets it 14 hours before, he won't likely report it as a bug. Dec 17, 2015 at 15:22
  • I wouldn't go with '±12 hours'. That still takes some degree of manual calculation. And people don't really have time / can't be bothered with that so would just report a bug / query. So just say "...ask, answer or vote on December 18th - or due to timezones perhaps the day before/after too."
    – JonW
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:24
  • @JonW I disagree. I got my hat exactly 12 hours before December 18. If I would see ±12 hours in the description, it would be crystal clear it's intended. Starting to explain about timezones will clutter the description, IMO. Dec 17, 2015 at 15:26
  • Crystal clear, for you maybe. But the number of 'bugs' we've seen on MSE about this one issue suggest people don't bother searching / reading about issues, so I'd want to make it crystal clear for everyone. Clarity > brevity.
    – JonW
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:34
  • @JonW I understand and of course understand that not everyone think like me, but anyway those people posting here one after the other don't search this site properly - but having it stick right there in the Winter Bash site itself and in the hat description when wearing it is different. That said, forgot to add the part about description in the profile, will add it now. Dec 17, 2015 at 15:43
  • It's more that I think that ± is not as globally recognised as you might think. So I'd rather use words than symbols to negate that possibility. I mean, how often do we see posts where people don't know the difference between < and >, and that's pretty basic stuff.
    – JonW
    Dec 17, 2015 at 15:45
  • @JonW ah, now I see. Well, loving math from childhood I see why it's so natural for me. Well, let the higher forces now decide. :) Dec 17, 2015 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


This proposal introduces a new problem, though. If you are in a time zone that is already offset from UTC by 12 hours, and you could get the hat 12 hours earlier or later than the day happens for you, you would be getting hats a total of 24 hours earlier or later than the UTC time, which is not the intended behavior.

Besides, we want these descriptions to be short and simple, and most people either don't care about the exact timing or realize there's some leeway for time zone reasons.

Also there's the "these are descriptions for a temporary, just-for-fun event" argument, although I don't buy into that one so much.


I think we should just let it lie. It's occurred because people complained that they didn't get a hat even though it was still a particular date in their time zone, when the original hats were based on UTC, just like the rest of the site is.

So this is already an anomaly - most users who care already know that the rep cap is UTC day to UTC day, and so is every badge that has a timeframe component.

If we must add something, rather than being more specific I'd suggest we be less specific:

ask, answer, or vote around December 18th

or even obscure it with fun:

ask, answer, or vote using the force

And let people draw their own conclusions about it.

Alternately, make it a secret hat and let people define it themselves in the secret hat thread. There's probably a good argument here for making all the date based hats secret, or, for that matter, all the hats.

  • +1 for "ask, answer, or vote using the force" -1 for "make it a secret hat". :-) Dec 17, 2015 at 16:25
  • 1
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 17, 2015 at 16:30
  • 1
    I downvoted to vote for making it secret. Please don't mind :) Dec 18, 2015 at 8:51
  • @FarhanAnam I don't mind at all! This is hardly my lowest downvoted post. ;)
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 18, 2015 at 12:01

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