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I notice that employees get hats and place in the top ten (probably due to our upvotes, and appreciation of their helpfulness, and for no other reason).

Do they get secret hats based on a different set of requirements than the ones that regular users must meet to obtain their hats, or do they simply not have "secret hats".

I only ask because they have mentioned in the comments that they know the triggers.

I imagine that when (if) the "Top Ten" are announced that they are removed from the list. I am not suggesting that there's any cheating (for themselves), just wondering if there is any enjoyment (challenge) for them?

Also, this is my best attempt at a "Hero Of Time" hat.

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Well, since this is kinda about me, I'll talk about how I've earned hats this year. To answer your title question, no, they're not different. Staff are subject to the same rules for hats as every other user.

There are only about four to six staff members who know what the secret hat triggers are and, yes, that does include both Yaakov (who's the dev running Winter Bash this year) and me (I just love hats and have been helping Cesar out, who's the CM leading the project).

Additionally, Yaakov can manually award hats, which he demonstrated when awarding a couple of hats to the Community User. But he hasn't awarded himself (or me) hats.

I've been pretty active here on MSE since hats started so I've been lucky enough to get a bunch of badges, which also happened to trigger hats. For example, I got a gold badge for my answer announcing comments only locks and I got the Enlightened badge for another answer. That said, I haven't actually been trying to get them... they just happened and I'm happy to get them and be able to play with them.


When we test hats prior to the start of Winter Bash, we have a way to grant ourselves all hats - so we can check them for bugs and pose for photos - which is when I snapped this screenshot:

Screenshot of my avatar wearing a pirate hat with a red parrot

But I haven't actually earned it during WB, so I don't use it.

I hope this helps explain some things.

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SE employees can and do earn secret hats.

Looking at the leaderboard Yaakov Ellis (also a dev working on the WB) has the most hats of any SE employee right now. Yaakov has collected nine secret hats already.

SE employees collect hats using the same triggers we do. Yes that gives them an advantage (a big one), but historically for some hats it was how we all found out about a hat. Notable example being "It’s Always 5 O’Clock Somewhere" from 2015.

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