Besides bringing some fun at the end of the year, some hat awards are meant to incite good behavior and also serve as more relaxed introduction to the Stack Exchange sites and their policies. While reading Tour or Help center is often ignored, reading hat description and their triggers is something more people will do and many will try to earn as many hats as they can.

In doing that it is important that required actions don't cause negative effects on the site or if they do encourage some easy to do action that can be applied recklessly, they do that in minimal possible manner.

For instance, in previous years there was a "Warm Welcome" hat where trigger was upvoting question posted by new contributor. People trying to get that hat without focusing on anything else, would upvote just about any question regardless of its quality. Since the requirement was upvoting just one question, the potential harm was not significant and the effects could have been easily mitigated by curators.

However, this year's Winter Bash, introduced not one, but three hats "Gem Detector", "Gem Finder" and "Gem Watcher" that require upvoting recent questions and require a lot more upvotes for the trigger - up to 50. Yes, there is additional constraint that such question needs to stay open, but that will not prevent people from upvoting anything counting just on luck and number of votes cast.

This kind of triggers are extremely disruptive for some sites, namely Stack Overflow, where there is not enough curators to deal with all poor questions. We cannot close all such questions, and inevitably, many of poor questions will now require additional curating and many will stay on the site, instead of being eventually deleted by roomba.

It is too late to change that for this year, but please in the future, when deciding on the triggers, don't just think about how the hat can be earned by people that will follow all other established rules, but also how can trigger be abused and how much disruption it can bring to the sites.

  • 11
    "that will not prevent people from upvoting anything counting just on luck and number of votes cast." There is no luck involved, either. So far we've struggled with closing questions that should have been closed. It's a game of numbers now - cast enough votes and you'd get the hat. Even if you only upvote close-worthy questions. An upvote also is likely to prevent some users from casting a close vote, which is a further problem.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:07
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Discouraging "soul-selling" for hats
    – Mithical
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:08
  • 8
    @Mithical I think this is different question. The one you proposed focuses on users and how they should act during Winter Bash and this one is about not having hugely disruptive hats in the first place - which is something only SE can do. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:15
  • 5
    @Rob I don't think that really is the same thing. I think this question is asking to reconsider in general what hat triggers are chosen, not to "balance out" one hat that might lead to disruption with another than might also add disruption. Two wrongs don't make a right.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:33
  • 10
    - However, this year's Winter Bash, introduced not one, but three hats ... - Well, perhaps the company is more interested in recovering more activity and / or users than quality in content 😉
    – Danielillo
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:38
  • 2
    @Rob and VLAZ already noted, this is completely different question. It is not about adding another hat, or even making changes for this year's Winter Bash (changing would basically require removing those hats) but about not making the similar mistakes in the future. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 8:51
  • 7
    FWIW, as far as I am aware / last checked (and this might have changed), the Gem series only counts votes when you voted within 48 hours of posting a question, and the question is at least 4 days old. At smallest, there is a two-day window for close vote review: enough on most sites. The percent thresholds mean voting without regard for the post will - almost always - actively worsen your chances of getting these hats, not help. On only a small number of sites is it likely that one could get any of these hats by voting randomly. Whether this is widely understood, I'm not sure.
    – Slate StaffMod
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:13
  • 3
    (I don't mean to dismiss this thought, either, to be clear - just point out a limit on the applicability to this specific hat series. It's a reasonable point to make overall, and it did receive some deliberate attention this year. Imo Winter Bash is as much an object lesson in how sensitive Stack systems are to small changes, as it is a fun event.)
    – Slate StaffMod
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:22
  • 6
    @Slate On most sites maybe, but not on Stack Overflow. There is not enough man power there to deal with all questions that require closing (even blatant off-topic ones). Again it is also not just the issue whether hat will be earned or not, but what will people do in order to get the hat. Upvoted questions even when closed will not be automatically deleted, so it requires additional effort in terms of curating those. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:23
  • 10
    @Slate I see at least two misconceptions here: 1. we're able to review and vet every single of the over five thousand questions posted every day on average on SO. I do not believe that's been happening consistently so far. 2. Questions that aren't closeable do deserve an upvote. There are many questions that don't fall under any of the close reasons but are still bad. A downvote is enough to at least roomba them eventually. An upvote offsets that and leaves them in.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:25
  • 13
    Mmm, good point about it interfering with the roomba for certain posts. I've made a note to make sure it gets recorded in docs as a consideration for future WB.
    – Slate StaffMod
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:26
  • 3
    @Slate doesn't mean people won't try randomly voting...
    – VLAZ
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 9:55
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    @Rob Yeah, I definitely agree. Existence of hats should not be a call to get them by any means available. I do also get why folks would want hats to be robust to site misuse, though. Folks work hard to curate Stack as a resource for the future. I think any change to that, even a transient one, will always be an understandably anxious topic. WB implements a lot of unreviewed curation changes in a short period of time, so anxiety is concomitant (and often not without reason), and imo that's worth attention, too.
    – Slate StaffMod
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 10:09
  • 3
    I agree very much, nobody focuses and chooses good questions to upvote. Everyone upvotes all questions they see, whether they are good or bad, just for getting this hat. This hat should retire next year IMO. Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 2:23
  • 3
    @Philippe I am glad you will keep this in mind for the future. I just want to emphasize one thing: possibility of abuse for some of the hat triggers was blatantly obvious (literally you need 5 seconds to see how it will be abused) to people who actively moderate the sites. This is where moderators can step in and give you valuable feedback before you release something to the public. I know that you do have employees that can also spot such issues, but bringing more people into brainstorming increases chances for spotting flaws. Of course, one cannot always predict every possible abuse vector. Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


Having fun using and enjoying the site is good behaviour so perhaps the little Christmassy light relief offered by the bash makes a miniscule amount of moderately bad behaviour worthwhile.

For avoidance of doubt, I find the winter bash Christmassy, even if that is not its intent.

  • 8
    Nobody is against fun and being merry. Unfortunately, some of the hat triggers can be extremely disruptive on some sites. Upvoting one question (per user) to get a hat will not cause huge disruption, even if occasionally cast on questions that are not worthwhile. Having to cast 50+ upvotes (per user) in order to get a hat is completely different story. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:24
  • 95% of which are still open after 4 days.
    – Wolgwang
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 14:27
  • 9
    What will you say when Januare comes, the fun is gone and the bad content stays?
    – Dharman
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 21:32
  • @Dharman I'll say you only get one life so make the most of it. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 12:41
  • 1
    We all love fun. But to do "bad" stuff on the site just to get a hat is a bit too much. Bad questions will stay and not get roomba'ed. Fun leaves in January, and the trash content questions just for this fun stays on the site forever. Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 2:21

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