Winter Bash 2018 is over now, and no one has opened this recurring question for the next round, so I'll just do it.

Please post your suggestions regarding how to make Winter Bash 2019 even more fun than the previous Winter Bashes.

  • New suggestions for hats and hat triggers (either regular or secret ones)
  • Which hats should be kept?
  • Which hats should be retired?
  • Do we want more secret hats?
  • Do we want more secret hats that don't get triggered until long after the start of Winter Bash?

Let's keep the traditional format of one suggestion per answer, so people can vote on individual suggestions.

  • 39
    As an aside, I would love to hear suggestions from people that have nothing to do with hats. This was the 8th year we've done the same thing with different triggers and to be honest, I turned them off this year because I've gotten kind of bored with the idea. There's got to be something else fun and interesting we can do at the end of the year that isn't just repeating the same thing over and over. Be creative and don't be tied to the idea of "we must do hats again next year" - maybe if we have something really cool we don't have to...
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:38
  • 14
    @animuson Sweaters.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:47
  • 4
    @Catija ugly ones! Something where you can earn 'design elements' for your own ugly sweater? :P
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:50
  • @animuson something I could imagine is some winter adaptation of the “StackEgg” April joke balpha did a few years ago... Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 21:27
  • 1
    A surfboard would be nice to go with the hat.
    – Rich
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 6:05
  • A competition with who can knit the best sweater on the knitting tool, people place votes, winner gets it made into a real one Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:09
  • Also, SE memes had surfaced. Looking at you, chicken, rubber ducky and SO unicorn Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:11
  • Seriously though, that knitting thing had so many people going up and beyond in creativity. I am a proud user. We must do SOMETHING to get people's creativity up and running. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:13
  • 2
    More colours on the knitting tool. Pleeeeeeeeeeeease it's really hard having a small palette Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 19:28
  • @animuson well, each year there are hundreds (thousands?) of new users who never hunted for hats, or did it only once, so they find it very fresh and fun. But agree that for us "old timers", it does get boring. Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 9:09
  • 2
    @animuson: Can we turn that into a full question in its own right? I think it deserves to be one. It would be much easier to answer a focused question.
    – hat
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 13:47
  • As mentioned over on this question, it might be nice to spice it up a bit by introducing some badges for participation.
    – Mark M
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 16:08
  • 5
    I don't feel like Winter Bash with things being as they are. Especially with Monica not being reinstated.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 21:31
  • 4
    We have deleted several (sometimes rude/passive aggressive) attempts at dragging current events into an event that's supposed to be all about fun. While we understand everyone's frustration, winter bash suggestions are not the place to fight this fight, and ruin fun for other users. We're locking this question for a while to give it some time to cool down, and hopefully any new suggestions posted after that will be more constructive.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 13, 2019 at 10:03
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell Who are we? Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 11:42

36 Answers 36


animuson wrote in a comment on the question:

This was the 8th year we've done the same thing with different triggers and to be honest, I turned them off this year because I've gotten kind of bored with the idea.

I was feeling a little bored with hats this year too. I didn't turn them off, was happy to get them, and even sought a couple (because they're cool and/or reward something I would be proud of). But I felt more meh than I'm used to, maybe because I've been through a bunch of these too.

I think part of my reaction was due to pacing. The date-based hats might be trivially easy, but they serve to break up what can otherwise be a long stretch where new hats just aren't happening, especially if you participate on smaller sites. (Guru badges might flow like water on some sites, but they're quite rare on others, for example.)

Whatever we do next year (doesn't have to be hats), let's think about pacing -- large/small sites, high/low effort, pulling in casual users vs targeting the pros, etc. It's a hard problem, I know.

  • 8
    I felt the same, I was waiting for a second release of easy hats in the middle of this Winter Bash. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:35
  • What about new secret hats?
    – user651518
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 18:00

Please, please, please, please, don't bring back SO Goes Flapper, which has the description

post an answer with fewer than 600 characters that gets accepted while there is a competing answer with more than 600 characters

Being concise is awesome, and being long-winded can lose readers' attention. But 600 characters is roughly two tweets, as of January 2019, and I have seldom seen a pair of tweets that could answer a tough programming (or cooking, or physics, or whatever) problem in adequate detail.

Is it possible? Yes. Should we be encouraging short answers and discouraging answers of reasonable lengths? No.

  • I got the hat (accidentally) on graphic design.
    – Welz
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 1:29
  • 10
    +1 for criticizing a hat which I failed to get :D Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 7:26
  • 1
    @AnkitSharma I don't wanna remove, since that was one of the first hats i earned. :D Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 6:56
  • 2
    My second-highest scoring answer on SO is 338 characters long. My 4th-highest scoring answer is 445 characters long.There's nothing wrong with short answers.
    – Cerbrus
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 13:07
  • I now agree don't bring it back, long answers are better since you explain the code. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:08
  • 3
    You only need to shorten this post (684 characters long) by 84 characters in order to be fully ironic. Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 8:15

Retire "still fresh"

The Still Fresh hat was triggered for being on a site for 6 months or less. It's so easy to get. You can literally just join a random community and earn the hat. It does not encourage any useful behavior and anyone can get the hat, and it really doesn't help separate new users from older users, because as I said, you can get it through about 3 clicks.

  • Yes, this one was kind of too cheap. There should at least one action (post, comment, vote) by the still fresh user and that action should remain un-contested (flagged, close-voted etc.) for some time. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:53
  • 2
    Maybe just make it that you have to earn 75 or 100 rep (and association bonus not counted). This would increase participation from new users, solving the problem and getting a positive outcome. We want hats that are not too hard for new users, but not too easy either.
    – hat
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:59
  • 3
    @hat For really new users, 75 or 100 rep are a very steep step upwards. I formulated my criteria on an activity intentionally soft. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:06
  • Actually, it's 4 clicks :)
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:18
  • @VerNick It's 3 the way I do it, but maybe not every way. I press New Tab (1), enter the url, then press Join this community (2), then Confirm And Create This Account (3). What's the fourth click?
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:21
  • I click on Communities icon(1), choose a site and click on it(2). Then Join the community(3) and Confirm and Create this Account(4).
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:24
  • 2
    @jknappen Fifty rep is not too hard to earn. Also I think that rep would encourage more participation; once past the 15 rep to be able to flag, it is easy to flag away without participating. I think I did something similar as a new user.
    – hat
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:57
  • 3
    It was not easy to get. That is, if you already had an account on all sites, like me.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:42
  • @Glorfindel if you have an account on all sites, it would be hard to get. But very few people have an account on all sites.
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:46
  • I got this one six times just because I'd poked at a few sites prior to the 'bash. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 5:23
  • 3
    The easy way to get lots of this hat was to use the SEDE query Sites where a user doesn't have an account on and just start clicking on the links to the join page for sites you don't have an account.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 19:37

Hat for creating missing tag wikis

I don't know about every site on the network, but missing tag wikis can be a pain. And generally speaking, it's better to at least have a description and basic guidance than absolutely nothing.

So, I propose a hat for creating a couple of tag wikis (both excerpt and body, or a well-thought combination of both) that weren't there before.

  • Users under 20k rep will have to wait for it to be reviewed, guaranteeing some quality (if the system works like it should).
  • Users over 20k rep are supposed to be trusted to create actually useful tag wikis (not just "use this tag if you have a question about Java")

It might also be an opportunity for relatively new users to discover they can edit those. If they go on a useful tag wiki edit strike, may it be for rep, or wanting to improve the site in ways they didn't know of, or both, or other, I'd say that's a win.

On top of encouraging a good behavior, I think this would also be a well balanced hat:

  • everyone can get it. This year, for "I'll handle it" you had to have enough rep to close, edit and reopen: that's 500 on betas, 3k elsewhere. That's a lot (and can't necessarily be reached in the span of a Winter Bash). Tag wiki edits are available for all registered users.
  • it's not too easy to get, like this year's "Rubber Ducky" (discard a question) or "Still Fresh" (just the association bonus was enough for that!);
  • it's not too hard to get, either: it can be hard for new users to write answers of sufficient quality to expect a "Rep Hunter" hat (5 accepted answers in a day); and I imagine that a Guru badge on some low-traffic beta sites with no presence on HNQ is a fantasy.
  • 1
    Agreed and really interesting part mostly get taken for granted Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 7:25
  • 1
    I don't know...if hundred of thousands of users start editing tag wikis and there is some happy-go-lucky reviewing it could end in a huge MESS
    – hat
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 13:53
  • @hat it could be, as is pretty much everything else, subject to abuse; but hopefully the system works and such a thing is handled quickly. Perhaps pushing the amount of approvals to 3 for a short period of time, like on SO? (For sites likely of abuse; I think most betas wouldn't qualify I think?)
    – Jenayah
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 17:20
  • I know on WB I've had to deal with several tag wiki issues due to people editing things they don't understand (or really do understand but not from a world building perspective). Currently, its a high ratio of edits but fairly rare event so I'd think this would make that worse. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 13:32

There were no hats for flagging this year, and this feature hasn't receive much attention when picking hats. There have been some hats (2015's Odinson, 2016's Abominable and 2017's Ooh, Shiny) which could be obtained with flagging for closure, but voting to close worked for those, too. (Helpful) flags are important for Stack Exchange's moderation process, and we have badges, so why not a hat for, say, 10 helpful flags?

To prevent people hunting for old flaggable-but-not-really-relevant posts or comments, a restriction could be that the flagged post/comment should have been created during Winter Bash.

  • there are tons of questions like "me too" and "thanks" to flag, so that hat would be kind of freebe?
    – Vickel
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:23
  • 5
    Less freebee than 'use the discard button on the Ask Question page' (this year's Rubber Ducky), or previous hats which required participation on a particular day (one single vote already counted as participation).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:41
  • 2
    +1 sure it makes sense to have some easy hats... and I fell in love with my rubber ducky!
    – Vickel
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:43
  • 2
    @Vickel It's a hat that would be given for actions that actually improve the site, effectively encouraging people to do things we want them to be doing (flagging bad content). While it might be relatively easy to obtain, I wouldn't consider it a "freebee".
    – Makyen
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 19:26
  • 3
    I'm not sure I'd limit this to posts/comments created during Winter Bash. While cleaning up older stuff isn't as helpful, it's still helpful. If earning this hat is going to be restricted flagging content created within a certain period, then the period should be longer 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?
    – Makyen
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 19:29
  • Not sure. I could look at a new question that was asked during WinterBash and flag to remove a "thank you" comment on it by clicking "no longer needed" and easily get the badge after 10 iterations of this. Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 15:56

Hats that require effort should be for things that improve the site.

I know it was a rerun (and thus popular once before), but for me It Ain't Easy Being Cheesy fell into an odd niche: you had to do something specific on each site of interest on six different days, which means you either make the rounds doing that thing each day or you get a little sloppy (or you ignore it) -- but that thing you're doing is about Winter Bash, not about the site. Even the hats of yore that were for visiting sites had a (slightly) more positive goal -- if you visit the site you might see something to do.

I'm in favor of having some easy, predictable hats, but let's either make them simpler (like the date-based hats) or more site-focused (like voting or posting or something on a site for several days).

  • ...or at the very least, "wear on all sites" should count towards changing it (though as I only had 6 unique hats "gotten on Stack Exchange", maybe it doesn't count hats unless you have it on that site?). Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 5:25

Can we work a bountapalooza into this? Or something centered on offering bounties?

The holiday season is about giving, above all. On Worldbuilding, we've held something called a bountapalooza for the past three Winter Bashes (2016, 2017, 2018). Essentially, we have a featured meta post that encourages, and keeps track of, bounties being set during Winter Bash. Usually, we try to get people to set bounties on questions asked by other people, as well as posts that haven't gotten much attention, but that's a side note.

So . . . can we do something network-wide during Winter Bash that would encourage the same thing - being generous enough to sacrifice some of those hard-earned imaginary Internet points for the sake of knowledge and helping others? It could be a hat; it could be a leaderboard; it could be something entirely different. Just a way to encourage a very Stack Exchange-y way of giving back to others.

. . . Looks like I actually suggested this two years ago. My memory is clearly fading. But I think this incarnation of the idea is broader; as with animuson, I'd like to see some non-hat ideas. I think we could encourage bounties in more ways than just a hat, like . . .

  • A network-wide leaderboard for who's set the most bounties (or maybe given up the most rep) on other users' questions.
  • A partial (full?) refund for whoever spent the most.
  • Network-wide advertisements for bounties, a la the HNQ (thanks, Monica!).
  • Longer bounty periods.
  • Just fun, unofficial per-site bountapaloozas, which I guess we can implement on our own.
  • 9
    Network-wide visibility for bounties could be a pretty awesome way to both broaden the reach for those questions and attract people to new-to-them communities with site-curated content. (Now that I've written that, it'd be even better to have year-round, but maybe we can experiment during winter bash?) Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:11
  • @MonicaCellio Oh, that would be phenomenal. Plus, it would get attention for questions that could use input from people on multiple sites; I've bountied questions like that lately.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:11
  • Related, on broadening bounty reach: meta.stackexchange.com/a/316992/162102 (I was going to propose this on the "improve HNQ" question and found that somebody already had). Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 1:53

Hat for closing duplicates

Every site, big or small is going to have posts that should be closed as duplicates. Arguably one of the most difficult and helpful community building tasks is identifying the duplicates correctly, and closing them correctly.

I propose a hat for flagging dupes, where the question is closed as a duplicate and remains closed for 72 hours (allows time incorrect closures to corrected)

  • 4
    I propose a donkey hat for closing a question wrongly
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 13:56
  • 3
    It can't be only flagging, since like me, i can close it, and close it by myself, and i think it's too easy, it should be something like if you do 5 duplicate votes that will result in a actual close and doesn't get reopened for 72 hours, but for gold-badgers, like me it should be something like 10 or 20 closes. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:15

In the spirit of my comment on the question, let me throw out a few random ideas that might get the thought cauldron churning a bit and maybe we can push some renewed excitement into this end-of-the-year fun:

Let users team up

The leaderboards are, frankly, lame. Leaderboards for contest-style things where you can only earn a small number (20-30) are not very exciting and outside of racing to get them all first, they become fairly pointless.

We could reinspire leaderboards by letting users group together into only a handful of teams that competed against each other, rather than every individual user competing against every other user, or smaller sites having to compete against bigger sites.

Doesn't need to be anything fancy, they could totally just be the traditional Red, Yellow, and Blue teams and users can choose which team they want to join when the bash starts (although more creative team names and maybe icons for them would be way cooler).

Move to unlockables

Currently, each hat you earn is tied to a specific trigger. Which is fine, but could be improved. Rather than forcing a user to complete a specific task to get the one hat they really want, why not let them collect coins and redeem them for the hat they want?

Essentially, have a list of triggers (both public and secret) that award one Stack Exchange Unicoin each. Then have a collection of stuff they can redeem those coins for. Certain items can also be made only available during certain dates, as a way of rotating out what you can redeem for throughout the entire event.


  • Users aren't forced into doing weird things they don't care about just to get something specific. I've been guilty of doing this a couple times in the past because I only wanted one thing in particular.
  • Can be expanded in the future - we could add other fun things users can do to their profiles other than just adding hats.
  • Allows for having more hats than triggers, and forcing users to choose which of the entire collection they actually want to have (some may not call this a benefit, but it would be an interesting dynamic at the least).
  • Staff are not so inclined to make super weird and oddly specific criteria to try and fit them in with a relevant hat. Nor are they forced to ditch criteria that would otherwise be good to use simply because they don't match a hat idea.

Randomize everything

Nothing keeps users coming back to try again than making things random. Piggy backing on the unlockables idea above, we could instead use those coins to let users play a claw game and pull a box out of the machine to reveal what "prize" they've received this time (of course with a guarantee that they wouldn't get duplicates because that sucks).

Claw game!

  • 4
    I don't like the idea and metaphor behind the "Unicoin". It will take every fun out in favour of some virtual capitalism. Try Second Life for that. The hats are only partly attractive due to their design, the major part of attraction lies in showing off some achievements. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:51
  • 1
    Way too complicated.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:33
  • Wow! where did you get that thing? Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 23:22
  • 3
    @jknappen I'm not sure I follow. No suggestion I made remotely resembles capitalism. The Unicoin was just a random invention for an April Fool's game that was available on-site years ago, and it's just a fun way to untie the triggers from the actual rewards, so you can choose which hats you'd like to have (one coin to one hat) rather than being forced with the ones tied to each trigger.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 2:16
  • 3
    +1 for the idea of earning coins and spending them to choose a hat. The teaming up is not so interesting, larger teams will win. But if coins are given for specific actions (each time you write an answer you get coins, for example) then the leaderboard with individuals might be more interesting, as there is not a limited number of items to obtain. Buying hats (or whatever else) with coins: choose between a specific item (for lots of coins) or a box with a random item in it (for fewer coins). The really desirable items will be very rare in the random box. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 7:59
  • you may want to have a look at my answer here animuson. It could be what you were looking for.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 16:01
  • The introduction of gambling. This would be a good idea for those type of games that try to lure you into playing it, make you addicted, and then get you to spend lots of money. Game addiction is already being recognised as a disease. Will this happen also to contributers/users of StackOverflow/StackExchange or other social online communities with a gambling/competition element? Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 8:37
  • and now, with just about 8 hours left to the new Bash, one does wonder if animuson managed to actually implement this this year.....
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 16:30
  • @SPArcheon I'm not at all involved with Winter Bash anymore. I haven't followed what's happening this year at all. ;) But I imagine none of this happened.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 21:08

Hat for a golden badge

I think we should have a hat for earning a golden badge. This hat had been for two years before WB 2018, when suddenly it was put away. I think we should bring it back.

  • 1
    Isn't a gold badge enough of flair already? It is a hat we were used to see, but I don't miss it otherwise. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:20
  • 2
    @jknappen Then why we have Identification Division?
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:26
  • 1
    I have no problem in loosing it. Maybe it is a good idea to decouple hats from badges completely, and give hats for reaching two-thirds of a badge requirement or 4 thirds of a badge requirement for certain criteria. It will also make secret hats vexingly hard to guess Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 19:29
  • 1
    Then you'll be thinking about bronze badge now... Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 1:18
  • @U9-Forward That would be too easy.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 5, 2019 at 7:06
  • A hat for a gold badge is like a bottle of champagne to celebrate a raise. Needed!
    – user540056
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 1:20
  • 1
    Oh damn cant see how i would get it.... i already have some but... next tag badge is around 450 up-votes away Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:11
  • @U10-Forward I don't think it will actually be added (
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 10:57
  • 1
    @VerNicksaysReinstateMonica Yeah who knows? Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:03
  • 1
    @U10-Forward-ReinstateMonica Lol you were right, there's Foot of the rainbow XD
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 9:49

The Problem:

As animuson himself said in his comment, the Winter Bash hunt is starting to feel "old" for many users. Reused hat triggers and hat pictures hurt one of principal interest trigger for the event: discovering new things.

As I have also said here, the "fun" in Winter Bash can be traced back to two central elements: competition and exploration. While the competition is still present - people compete to get more hats - it isn't sufficient to motivate some users that are less interested in climbing leaderboards. For this growing part of the community, the only interesting aspect of the event is finding new and funny things.

This can easily be "proven" too: notice how the knitting tool - something new and never seen before - got a lot of interest (some even started "post your best creations" questions) while the interest in hats somehow declined after it became evident that all secret hats were found.

Please, read my other answer I linked above for a more in-depth analysis of the situation.

The Challenge

So, it would seem easy to fix all this, right? All we need is something new and original, right? Well... it really depends on what our objective is.

There is an additional challenge that should be considered when trying to imagine Winter Bash: the cost/benefit balance.
As sad as it may seem, the primary purpose of the Bash isn't "FREE FUN & REP POINTS!". As the staff said multiple times, Winter Bash was made in order to try to fix another completely unrelated problem: decrease of users' contribution/traffic during the holiday period.

What does this mean? Simply put, that if we want to keep the original intent intact, any revision to the event should still be solving the same problem.
This is why we end up with reused hat triggers every year: the triggers were never meant to be just funny or original - they were crafted to promote some kind of behavior that the staff wanted to advertise. Voting stuff, posting answers, helping on the review queues - those are the things which are likely to earn you a hat, because those are the things that are likely to help the site traffic. Having a trigger for playing the Asteroid secret minigame on Arqade won't help anyone, and that is probably why my idea for an Asteroid hat is ignored every year (insert sad puppy face here).

The Proposal

It is unclear what animuson had in mind when he posted his reply. He did indeed state that he is bored with the current hat hunt, but he hasn't really made clear if he is actually proposing a full "for fun" event that completely puts aside the "promote traffic" requirement Winter Bash always had. Thus, I will only focus on the gaming aspect of the event, and will leave definition of the "behavior promotion" elements to others. I will also avoid considering costs/spending limits that the event will obviously have.

So, first of all - while hats are fun, they are getting old. Reused hats are the rule now, and therefore many more "casual" users are getting bored fast. Getting Identification Division once again? Trying to get another necromancer badge on your low traffic site?? SO BORING.

animuson said he would be interested in retiring hats. But retiring hats means we need another collectible thing, something that can also be displayed near your avatar.

I suggest we move to.... PETS.

While this doesn't really change much - in the end you are still winning a "picture", it should provide some "oooh, loook, new stuff" factor. Even better, combining the two aspects by giving users the ability to equip an hat and a pet at the same time could give enough distraction to keep things fresh and interesting for some time.

animuson also suggested moving to a "gacha / crane machine" approach. I kinda like this suggestion - removing the requirements to get an hat and switching to a "luck/minigame" approach means that we remove the "getting this hat is impossible for me" element that plagues Winter Bash: right now it is very possible that users are only interested in getting some hats that they like more - meaning that they will stop caring as soon as either they get the hat or realize it is almost impossible for them to do so. Moving to gacha rewards should help in both cases, by removing the reason to stop (why should you not play anymore if you can easily win coins by performing actions you would have done either way and maybe end up winning a new hat?).

Gacha has also another advantage that animuson didn't notice. Not only it decouples hats/pets from triggers, it also means that every single hat/pet can be secret. This in turn helps solving another problem: lack of new things to see. By giving each toy a different rarity, you can easily create a scenario that forces users into never being sure they have found every hat/pet.

Third, but I don't really want to go to much into this, decoupling the triggers from the actual unlockables means that the trigger may be more varied. You no longer need to just have a trigger that promotes good behavior, you may even throw in some random triggers for finding Easter Eggs and doing random stuff.

The "Why this won't be a thing"

While I personally would love a "collectible gacha pets" system... I doubt such a thing will realistically be made. While many of us would probably like it (even some staff members like Animuson) we have to remember something.

Time = Money = Cost

Winter Bash comes only once in a year. It only lasts a few weeks. And after that, all the work is thrown away in the trash (excluding some re-utilizable code base, that's it). It probably won't ever be worth puting too much effort into it, so while I wanted to post this idea since Animuson asked for something different, be aware that I am the first one that doesn't expect this to become an actual thing.

And one more thing...

I am adding this last chapter just to include a weird idea that I had while reading some kinda unrelated discussion in the Tavern chat room.

I think most Meta users know balpha. What they may not know is that some time ago he made a service that creates "random" unicorn pictures based on a string hash... He isn't the only one who had that idea: picture generation based on string hash is pretty common, usually used to generate avatars based on some user identifier.

For example consider RoboHash, which generates robots - or optionally cats - avatars based on an hash... or even something like CryptoKitties which provides blockchain based cat picture generation... and breeding.

Think you get what I am going for now? Suppose we make some pet classes... let's keep thing simple for example... dogs, cats, unicorns and chickens. We then create 4 generators, one for each pet "type"... If you notice, given some artistic support, creating a generator is quite simple: compared to balpha's Unicornify service these generators are kinda "stupid" - they just combine some standard parts (eyes, tails, fur colors, body shapes etc) to generate a complete picture.

Now, let's return to our gacha game. Since we don't have complete pets anymore but just generators, our gacha machine will actually just provide random pets seeds that the generators will then translate to actual pictures.
The benefit? Now we have "infinite" pets, not just a set amount, only limited by the total number of possible combinations of the parts. Have enough parts and the chances of having a dupe will be very dim... In a single sweep we destroyed the biggest problem the event has - the "I have seen everything" problem.

It is also worth noticing that having "generated" pets doesn't mean you can't have "custom" pets too - all is needed is a special "custom type" category that utilizes a different generator. This could be easily turned in a "rare pet" category.

Since now pets have different rarities, we can also have different levels of "pets eggs". Back to animuson's example, we could have gacha machines that operates with 1, 5 or even 10 coins, each one with a different eggs rarity probability chart.

Also... pets generation creates space for another feature... Pet MIXING!
If you look at the CryptoKitties page, you will notice that they support "breeding". Since our pets are made up of parts, it is somehow "trivial" to mix two pets in a new one that shares parts from the two parents - for a cost, of course.
This feature solves two problems: first, it gives some use to pets we may not really like - mix them and hope the result is better. Second, we could somehow find a way to implement chat based pet mixing between users (still need to have a cost to prevent abuse) in order to promote Friendship (& therefore Magic).

Lastly, the gacha feature and generation brings us to one more opportunity that may become our doom... but could maybe somehow even actually work if we are not too greedy. Premium paid gacha roll. Meaning that if someone really wants to give a small real world coin to SE to thank them for all the work... maybe he could get a small three week little "look at me" pet out of it. Obviously this is just an idea, and I know many fear the day SE does "IN-APP PURCHASES"... but maybe it could work. Maybe.

(OK, I will be honest. I originally also planed for a way to have users being able to battle each other with their pocket sized pets... but it is probably better to save that for later)

PS: Shadow Wizard just made me notice that there is another option too - have the gacha machine give out pets parts and then have the users build their pets out of the parts they have unlocked so far. I like this option too, and maybe it could be simpler to implement while keeping all the advantages of my more complex one. The only thing we would lose is the option for pet mixing, but that hasn't necessarily to be a thing.

And YET another more thing (2019 update)

A random parrot in a random chat board just pointed out another interesting option: ugly sweaters. I think that could work too - basic idea would be the same: sweaters could be procedural generated based on a random seed (similar to how gravatars are generated). They would still be bought with coins you would get from various task/trigger. The fun part is that we could then implement a "gift an ugly sweater" feature to give out sweaters you own to other users. That would basically be the SE version of the old Christmas tradition of getting ugly sweaters as a present and then trying to get rid of them by recycling them as present for other relatives....
As an added bonus, the sweater could also list all its previous owners :P.

  • 1
    I like this. One could even add some tamagotchi-like thing where you can buy more pets from pets (being nice to a pet --> 5 points --> new pet) Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 15:26
  • See the update, @MEE, see the update.... :P I added a new "chapter" titled "And one more thing". I think that should have your idea covered :P
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 15:33
  • This is another nice idea @SPAerchologist, I was more thinking of a tamagotchi where you have tasks like "feed your cat" and if you do this you get more points from which you can buy even more pets, though. ;) Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 15:42
  • 2
    I like most of this. Not keen on the "hand out pet parts" idea at the end, because that means you don't get any reward until you've gained several things. One of the things that hats tickle is that as soon as you get it you can use it, and there'a always something you can get in the first day -- so people can get into the game easily. Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 16:33
  • @MonicaCellio Yep, I know. I still included that idea because it was suggested on the chat site, but as I said while "easier to implement" it still has its own share of disadvantages. As for the one you mentioned, you could try to bypass it by giving out an starting random pet to each user - that way you wouldn't need to wait. Anyway, those are just random ideas I had, I never went too far into the planning phase since I don't even know if anything of this will be actually be used in the first place.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 8:23
  • I liked what I was reading and upvoted, then I reached the part about Pets and soon regreted the upvote. Lesson learned. You're just suggesting to replace "hats" with only a different theme. How does that cure the boredom factor from users such as myself? I am Italian, a woman, and 52 years old, and I have no idea what a "gacha game" is, it sounds similar to Pokeman, I will Google it after I post this comment. Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 18:34
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gacha_game Meh... Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 18:36
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA edited the post, you are free to retract. That said, I wouldn't really say that I am just replacing a theme.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 9:36

The Solstice Hats from Winter Bash 2016 were fantastic!

Sun Moon

Let's bring them back for Winter Bash 2019. They could be earned at any time, not just on the Solstice.


  • They include people in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The Solstice is the reason for the winter (or summer) season.
  • I would look great in these hats. ;-)

Options for earning:

  • Earning a gold badge
  • Raising a number of helpful flags
  • Awarding or receiving a bounty
  • Another useful action that did not earn a hat in 2018
  • "Awarding or receiving a bounty" that game could be rigged... by face bounty awarding team ups. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 9:16
  • @U10-Forward a lot (the majority) can be rigged; it should not be a reason to not do it. Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 8:43

I would say to create a hat like:

Rep Capper:

Reach the rep cap. (doesn't have to be rep cap, just 200 rep earned in one day is enough)

This is same idea as @VerNick, make users more energetic and active on their sites.

Maybe hat should look like:

  • I would add some decorations on pents.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 7:43
  • @VerNick Okay, thanks. Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 7:43
  • I tried to make some improvements.
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:49
  • @VerNick That looks more energetic, edited :-) Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:50
  • @VerNick You again? Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:54
  • Why not? :)))))
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:55
  • @VerNick Lol, voting day for me, vote for you again. Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:56
  • @VerNick :D, lol, :-) Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 8:56
  • @VerNick I think we should stop, could get reversal. Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 9:08
  • I wanted to say the same thing :)
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 9:14
  • @VerNick Lol :) Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 9:15
  • 2
    Jon Skeet would get this hat almost every day :( Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 21:28
  • 1
    @zixuan Well... Hats can be only earned once... Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 3:19
  • @zixuan The hat could be refined, for example for +200 in a day for answers that are max 7 days old. Some of the big "200 every day" folks get their +200 from plenty of old questions ...
    – GhostCat
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 20:21

New form of the knitting tool

What about changing the form of the knitting tool to make WB 2019 more fun? Also, it won't let people post an old knitting, so they will have to knit a new one.


A hat for giving an ASSIST to a badge

This hat idea is not particularly new (Bebs proposed it 2 years ago) but still on my list: Earn a hat for the last action triggering a (gold/silver/bronze—this can be three different hats) badge for another user (e.g., by casting the 10th vote on a question or an answer).

It emphasises the idea that hats are earned by the whole community and not only by the single hat hunter.

  • Does answering an user's questions and the user accepts it and gets a Scholar badge, does that count? Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:19
  • By design of the hat you can make it count or not. In my answer I have toyed with specific assists giving different hats, this is also an option. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 9:22

Hat for posting 5 posts with 3+ rating on a site during WB period

This would encourage participants be more active.

  • 3
    I would push it up to five; that should encourage good content, not just "fine" content.
    – hat
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:16
  • @hat Then maybe increase the number of upvotes? Maybe 5?
    – Ver Nick
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 8:00
  • As long as it excludes comments, I agree. But honestly, I would suggest more activity producing good content - so exclude deleted and closed posts (I have seen +3 closed posts before). But other than that, 5 +3 posts sound reasonable Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 8:18
  • 1
    @VerNick I was referring to the number of up votes.
    – hat
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 11:09

If the 2019 WB will have a Knitting Machine can we have an advanced version with at least double the vertical resolution and 4x as many colors. The ability to upload and download .GIFs would reduce the workload for those wishing to animate.

Previously the odd sized stitching gave one a 136x55 pixel canvas that was upscaled to 1190x442, that added to the challenge for some while not being particularly inclusive for others. The 12 colors could have been better chosen: a light black, three blues, a bluish purple, the not really orange which clashed with the tan and yellow; the other colors were random luck acceptable.

Advanced Knitting Machine

Of course an entirely new idea like 'angry snowmen' (where snowballs are shot through obstacles at approaching snowmen) is also welcome. Maybe angry chickens. ☃️🐤


Aha! An I D E A!!

I just saw the whole chicken thing again...what about this: a hidden SE-Network puzzle hunt, Cicada 3301-style!! (without the whole fly-to-different-countries-thing. we're not going too crazy here.)

Hidden messages in error codes, blog posts, chat, questions by undercover staff/moderators pretending to be regular users, hidden pages that can only be found through a specific trigger, etc

Users could even team up!

All that's missing is a prize...


More "conclusive" Easter Eggs.

While I did like the reference to 2017 "chicken" Easter Egg and the small "link hunt" it provider, I wasn't very fond of this year Easter Egg ending in a simple Youtube meme video.

First, it didn't make clear if the joke was really just that, prompting many user to star hunting for non-existing secrets. Second, but that may just be my problem, it didn't seem to actually put a closure to the joke, leaving it hanging there.

I therefore humbly suggest that whatever joke the Winter Bash site will hopefully have next year should be a self closed one, only involving our site and not depending on some viral meme that was posted months before.

Notice that it doesn't need to be anything elaborate: while I like Eleeza scavenging hunt idea a lot (must have something to do with the fact I have been proposing that for years now...) I don't think an Easter Egg has to be so elaborate ... even switching your mouse cursor with a chicken can be an cute thing that can bring a small laugh to some users.

  • I like the idea of a chicken cursor. Also, I'm gonna try out the chicken thing when it comes :) Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 18:27

In the same vein as animuson's answer,

I propose the Great Stack Exchange Token 1 Hunt

I was once part of an online community where they had a coin hunt. It worked like this:

  1. Coins were hidden around the site, which you had to find

  2. Clues were posted as to where (on which pages) the coins could be found

  3. Everyone had fun working out the clues and collecting coins

I think this type of event could be much cooler. Some ideas:

  1. Possibbility: Two or more teams are created on each site

  2. Tokens1 are hidden around the site

  3. Clues are given (or triggered, like hats?)

  4. Each team/each user competes against others to find tokens

  5. Tokens can be redeemed (possibly to give random results? @animuson's idea). Ideas:

    • Tokens can be redeemed for temporary fun privileges (suggestions?)

    • Tokens can be redeemed for fun easter-eggs

    • Tokens can be redeemed for fun digital accessories and wearables like hats, watches, upvote button, etc.

1 [insert fav object here; preferably unicoins]


Bring back a consolation hat for trying to get a bounty, but not getting it (from 2013: IG-88 and 2016: This Is Fine)

There should be a minimum score of 3 for an answer to qualify for this hat.

  • We need to design hats ensuring that hat-hunters working hard to earn a hat won't do damage. This would incentivise a bad practice: find bountied questions and post passable mediocre answers that are good enough for some upvotes bug distinctly not as good as other answers. It means bountied questions would get filled with mediocre answers, including outright bad ones that miss the sweet spot and are just awful. As a moderator I'd have to start getting deletey on my site during Winterbash, which would make the holiday suck and give me a headache. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 13:59

I will do the same I was screening from so long in wrong places as nobody heard :D, so here you go Rainbow hat.

Rainbow represent LGBT community, peace and inclusiveness. And this hat can represent inclusiveness by giving it to people who help new users, like editing their posts and get their score from negative to positive or help them getting their questions reopened.


Hat for answering a question found through the data explorer

What I have been doing some while on non-SO sites to improve the site's quality (e.g. % answered questions) is using the StackExchange Data Explorer to find interesting questions (no answers, only 0-score answers, no accepted answer, etc.) and try to provide an answer for them.

Example query: https://data.stackexchange.com/magento/query/4038/find-interesting-unanswered-questions

It would be nice to have a hat during WB to stimulate this: The White Hat Hacker (or The White Cat Hacker, or The White Hat Sweater, following the suggestions here to change WB).

What you would need to do: 1. Use the Data Explorer, the question should be in the data set 2. Answer the question 3. Get a minimum of +1 votes (to ensure for proper answers)

  • Interesting idea. However, there is an alternative path to unanswered questions: Use the "unanswered" tab in the questions menue. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 10:02
  • Sure, but I'm looking at something more than the unanswered tab (maybe + tag). Well, search can also do a lot: askubuntu.com/…
    – 7ochem
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 13:30
  • Great suggestion! It can help make data explorer more popular. It is a relatively underutilized and unknown tool and deserves to get more visibility. Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 1:46

Hat for editing tags and tag wikis, questions and answers to make them more clear, easier to understand and easier to find.

Start with the most popular ones.

Edit for clarity. There are lots of ambiguous definitions of tags, especially circular definitions. For example, the [moving] tag on Parenting SE, which is defined through... moving.

Edit to make the threads easier to find. Many questions have missing or incorrect tags. This may be the lowest hanging fruit. Misspelled or missing important technical terms is another.

Add missing tags to questions.

Fix wrong tags.

Edit typos, punctuation, grammar if the edit makes the thread easier to understand. Avoid truly minor edits if they do not contribute to clarity.

Move from most to least popular regardless of question and answer age.

Stay within your circle of competence.

  • 2
    So much this type of hat. Also not just '5 edits' or '5 tags'. Make it like 20! Those hat hunting won't change much from 5 to 50, and we'll get better results.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 2:33
  • Right! Five is way too easy. Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 3:09

The Mountie Bounty hat!

enter image description here

The goal should be to offer a minimum of 3 bounties (total 150), or 5% of your rep in bounties, whichever is the highest value, on unanswered questions more than a month old.

The benefits:

  • share the bounty. Encourages people to use this underused feature.
  • reduces unanswered questions
  • gives focus to long-forgotten questions

For high rep users - let's say they're on 100k rep. That's 5k to give away. Either 10x 500 bounties, over a month - I've done that. It's fake internet points, it really doesn't matter. (I'm on 130k on travel.se for example and give away bounties regularly).

For low rep - let's say a 100 rep user - they just have to get to 250, and offer 3 bounties. Easy and gets them into using the bounty system.

Also I'd love a network-wide bounty giving leaderboard. Really. I've seen it in practice and it gets questions answered!


User animuson asked for (and got 29 upvotes): "... I would love to hear suggestions from people that have nothing to do with hats.", how about modes of transportation.

We could use the 'hat resize tool' subroutine from last year to resize both our avatar and the vehicle that was awarded, dropping them onto a background which becomes the new avatar.

We could also permit knitting (or uploading) a higher resolution sweater (with an expanded palette) which could be positioned with a third resize tool.

That allows reuse of previous software (reducing resources). Each toolset could be selected with radio buttons to avoid confusion about which resizer was active and reduce UI clutter.

Some example vehicles: Unicycle, Penny Farthing, MacMillan treadle bicycle, 1952 Terrot VMS1 Scooter, Huracán Performante Spyder. More suggestions are: skateboard, Evel Knievel Snake River Canyon rocket, Cassini spacecraft, Segway, etc.

A few example vehicles

Here are two examples using an avatar and vehicle, without optional sweater:

simple example

Attribution: Some images have been designed using resources from Freepik.com, Authors: brgfx, rawpixel, freepik.

Of course people could upload new avatars better suited for the event or just use the existing one and have an odd fit between the pieces. Much like the hats of last year vehicles could be won for completing some activity, sweaters could be user supplied (hopefully from an improved knitting machine, or uploads), and each could be angled and sized to improve the scale and fit.

  • we should have separate meta for such suggestions. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 7:15

Add an option to make the background light blue

It would be kinda cool and wintery if the background of everything was changed to be a light bluish color during winter bash. Dark blue would be a little annoying because lots of buttons are dark blue, but just a little bluish tint would be awesome. Most likely not everyone would like it, though, so there should be a section in "edit profile & settings -> preferences" to allow turning it on/off.

  • 2
    They went trough all that trouble and disgruntlement with New Design and now you want to throw yet another theme change? :P
    – Jenayah
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:05
  • @Jenayah it's not that hard to just change the background.
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:08
  • Oh I'm not saying it's hard, just saying there'd probably be Volume 2 of "I don't like this design, turn it off" complaints :P (so that "Winter theme" would at least have to be opt-in)
    – Jenayah
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 20:09
  • I personally think that will look strange... and like summer, not winter. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 23:27

Keep the "waffles" hat and change the trigger

The Waffles hat is a really awesome hat. It's name complies with the spirit of meta and was a nice-looking hat on all sites. I think we should have another waffles hat next year with the same design but a different trigger. Posting 15 comments in a day is not an ideal trigger because it doesn't encourage good behavior at best and encourages bad behavior at worst (posting irrelevant comments just to get the hat).

  • 2
    What trigger for it? Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 21:23

I would create a hat like:


post 10 comments
with score > 0 and
none flagged

This will reward good behavior from the user.

  • This will be very hard to get on most sites. Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 9:26
  • @jknappen Changed to 10 comments. Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 21:12
  • 5
    Your post incorrectly presumes that because a comment has been flagged by someone that the comment must have demonstrated some sort of ill behaviour. Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 22:34

Can we design a hat for Synonymizer (who vote to synonimize too) which will help cleaning up the Tag synonyms queue & motivate them?

This hat should gather support, I believe.

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