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This question of mine:

https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/319993/i-especially-like-the-hats-this-year?noredirect=1#comment1048036_319993

Received -11 votes and was deleted as 'this kind of feedback is not on topic'.

Show off your hats! (2018 edition)

Receives +8 votes and several responses.

What's actually the difference?

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TL;DR: your earlier question wasn't a meta question.

Posts on meta sites, especially Meta Stack Exchange, don't have to be questions, but they do have to be discussions that get the community involved. There's a close reason specifically for that, which your question would arguably have been better closed as:

This question does not appear to seek input and discussion from the community. If you have encountered a problem on one of our sites, please describe it in detail. See also: What is "meta"? How does it work?

The post you wrote earlier on wasn't something that got the community involved - it was more of a statement of your appreciation for the hats, which while echoed by lots of people, isn't something that needs or encourages discussion.

The other question you linked - Show off your hats! (2018 edition) does get the community involved. It's in the same spirit as showing off your knitting, or working on finding out secret triggers together.

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