This year, we made the difficult decision to sunset Winter/Summer Bash. Winter Bash has been an annual event on Stack Exchange each December for the past decade.
What are the origin and goals of Winter Bash?
Winter Bash, in its original conception, was an event that was there for fun at the end of the calendar year. This was also when contests used to be held more frequently on individual sites. Community members would participate over the course of three weeks and earn hats, which they could display on their profile avatars. Over the years, Winter Bash evolved beyond just fun and was a way to encourage participation on the platform during a time of the year when participation typically wanes. It was also viewed as a source of re-engagement as we hoped it would encourage community members who had become less engaged to start participating again and stick around long term.
After last year’s event, we analyzed some of the data, and this is what we found:
- Only 1% of community members who came to the site during Winter Bash chose to wear a hat during the event.
- The total contributions from people who were participating in Winter Bash were lower than those who weren’t participating. This means people would come, participate enough to earn a hat, and then drop off again.
- We do know that a number of community members enjoy participating in Winter Bash, but each year we receive more feedback on how the concept has grown a bit stale.
Why is Winter Bash Being Sunsetted?
In addition to the data and feedback shared above, we also looked at how expensive it is to run Winter Bash every year. From the outside, it may seem like a simple event, but it’s actually quite complex. For last year’s Winter Bash, three engineers spent two months building, launching, maintaining, and ending the event. There were also four community managers who were heavily involved, a Product Manager, and resources from our Design, Marketing, and other teams.
In the end, the lift and time required for Winter Bash is too great for the team to take on. This year we have an even smaller number of staff members on Product, Engineering, and Community, and we had to make the call that we don’t have the bandwidth to run this event.
Will Winter Bash Return in the Future?
Never say never, but we don’t currently have plans to bring back Winter Bash as we’ve known it. What we would like to do in the future is look into fun engagement events that wouldn’t serve as a replacement for Winter Bash but could facilitate boosting participation on the platform. If we are able to move forward with this, we’d like to make sure that these events lead to sustainable participation and re-engagement. If we saw a substantial/significant increase in participation during Winter Bash we'd have strong grounds for keeping it. Anything we try in the future, we want to make sure it is successful. We also want to work with the community to ensure that any future initiatives we take on related to engagement are meaningful to you.