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.

  • 39
    is that 1% of all logged in users across the network or 1% of all visitors in general during the event?
    – Kevin B
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:53
  • 40
    This "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." reads oddly. Supporting numbers and assumptions would help.
    – QHarr
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:54
  • 32
    @KevinB 1% of logged-in users.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 15:58
  • 48
    @PetəíŕdTheLinuxWizard last year the event was called Winter/Summer Bash because it was held in Summer for those in the Southern Hemisphere and we wanted to recognize that.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 16:07
  • 49
    No real comment other than :(
    – zcoop98
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 16:10
  • 123
    It's sad to lose more fun on the network. Losing this kind of stuff reinforces the loss of that "small town" feel/ sense of community to me.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 16:14
  • 97
    Gosh, this would have been great news had it have been accompanied by "and so instead we'll use that engineering/product resource to fix these bugs / make these improvements"
    – Jamiec
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 16:14
  • 113
    Winter Bash iced after frosty review. Company representatives say "the event wasn't hot enough."
    – Chindraba
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 16:38
  • 57
    Yes, the "how many wore a hat" metric is not very representative. Many people try to collect as many as possible without actually wearing them.
    – wimi
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 17:03
  • 48
    I hate Winter Bash with an unbashingly burning hot passion. However, I know lots of people have lots of fun with it. You can see the funny creations that people do, and how far they go to find the secret hats. It's extremely sad to see that little bit of fun die off. Besides Winter Bash, there's no events in the network. Just Q&A and corporate blah blah blah. Please reconsider this decision. (I know I'm talking to a brick wall, but well, there's hope.) Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 17:49
  • 110
    This is unsurprising if you understand the history of the event. Winter Bash started flailing after the fourth year of doing it. And after that, we started discussing whether we should kill it off instead of sinking time into it every single year. But at the last moment, it'd be revived. Doing the same thing over and over was boring and appealed to ever-shrinking audiences. So please don't claim it's due to one thing or another - this fate has been a long time coming. I personally find it more surprising how long it did survive.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 17:52
  • 52
    @animuson I understand that, but it is being removed and replaced by nothing. The (in my opinion) only network-wide event for fun is gone. That's all we, from this side, see. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:00
  • 24
    @animuson - why would we be expected to "understand the history of the event"? So we're back to "Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun"
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:39
  • 18
    I joined the Stack Overflow mid November almost 9 years ago. The first Winter Bash I participated had the StarTrek theme and it was pretty fun experience. It definitely encouraged me to look around and read about how sites work in my efforts to earn some hats. I know Winter Bash was not perfect and occasionally even had some negative effects, but I am a bit sorry to see it go :( Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 19:12
  • 71
    I definitely appreciate the early notice. This is disappointing news, but not notifying us until the last minute would have greatly increased the blow, so an absolute thanks from me for notifying us very early! Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 19:43

17 Answers 17


Let me be unpopular for a moment and say I support this decision.

Speaking as someone who's been participating in Winter Bash since 2014 (read: a grumpy old fart), I feel that the interest has worn off way long ago. It was fun the first couple of years for me, then for a few years I'd randomly pick up hats during the period and wear them, now in the last few years I haven't even bothered wearing hats on my profile. That means it might still be interesting for new users but not for ... perhaps the majority of us by now. Time for a change.

Also, I've noticed something that's also been mentioned by staff here on this thread: Winter Bash used up actual developer and designer time from SE. I don't have major problems with a fun community event using up CM time, since interacting with the community is part of their job, but other employees' time could be better spent on other things. Instead of designing a whole separate Bash site with two distinct Winter/Summer themes, why not have those staff members spend their time on giving recently graduated sites their own themes? Instead of adding temporary fun bells and whistles to our profiles, why not create new permanent badges rewarding healthy site activity?

This isn't saying "we won't have fun events any more". Staff have explicitly said they'd like to have a different community-building event. To those upset about losing Winter/Summer Bash, let's engage with that process instead. Maybe we can get something even better to replace it. Maybe something that uses less developer/designer time, prioritising employee time more wisely, or something that new and old users can enjoy equally rather than the same old thing whose novelty has worn off for many of us.

  • 10
    "Staff have explicitly said they'd like to have a different community-building event." - It might have been better received if there was such an event already planned and revealed, rather than a "We're thinking until it becomes apparent that everyone has forgotten" type of situation.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 21:16
  • 7
    @JohnP: Ymmv, but I prefer being informed as early as possible, rather than delaying the announcement until a replacement event has been planned.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 7:39
  • 1
    I agree with @Heinzi, besides it'll probably be better that a new community-building event isn't just seen as the "Winter/Summer Bash Replacement". Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 10:22
  • 1
    @JohnP this reminds me of the new site navigation which was dropped in favor of the even newer/better site navigation only existing in the site owners’ imagination. Needless to say that this even better navigation never came.
    – Holger
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 10:51
  • in the last few years I haven't even bothered wearing hats on my profile <-- you just need a more hattable avi ;)
    – Zanna
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 8:03
  • 1
    "Let me be unpopular": currently standing at +206 to -6.
    – JDB
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 14:49

As much as I may understand the decision, I'm still very sad.

Winterbash was a big part of many years of my career at Stack Overflow, and I enjoyed the work on it tremendously.

I had a lot of fun building countdowns, knitting machines, realistic stick figure snowfights, realistic snow fall animations, and chickens, and more chickens.

I enjoyed updating FAQs with a twist, drawing red herring hats (I'll explain that some day), tweaking the hat placement mechanics, and when I left the company in 2019, writing down detailed documentation of how everything Winterbash-related works in our internal Stack Overflow for Teams instance.

Most of all, I enjoyed seeing how our users had fun chasing and wearing hats and discovering the Easter eggs I left for them.

I made a little tribute so we don't forget: https://winterbash.rip *

screenshot of the site linked above

Rest in peace, Winterbash. You were awesome.

* personal tribute, to be clear -- not endorsed by Stack Overflow Inc.

  • 24
    Great, you almost made me cry. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 14:12
  • 8
    Great, how adorable. +1 Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 15:06
  • 16
    A lovely tribute <3
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 16:31
  • I am glad stick figure snowfights have come into my life.
    – MT1
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 7:05

I love community events. In fact, I would state they are somewhat crucial to a community being a community. It's why I volunteered to look into the internal question, “No Winter Bash, so what’s next?” There is nothing quite like a group of people with shared interests getting to do things together in an enjoyable way. I would be thrilled to come up with something meaningful and fun.

I am currently looking into different kinds of community events we can run around engagement, mainly things centered around frivolous fun that are much lower lifts on our engineering teams and, ideally, things that are easily flexible to change thematically to avoid things becoming stale.

At some point, I would like to invite the community into the discussion, possibly in the form of a working group or just a general discussion on Meta, to see what y'all think about our ideas and proceed with whatever sounds fun.

  • 12
    Spring socks. Or funny, cute animals like spiders, that eat some bugs. Or unicorns, real unicorns instead of worthless internet points. Whatever a couple of engineers can come up with. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:36
  • 30
    Seven red lines, all of them strictly perpendicular. Some with green pixels, and some with transparent.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:47
  • 8
    Throwing this community-run contest out there as an example
    – Mithical
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 22:27
  • 17
    If there's one takeaway from Winterbash for me, it's that the profile pic customisation was fun. It doesn't have to be hats, but having other options for customising the appearance that the card/mouseover/profile page displays is something I would like to see. Doesn't have to be "here's a colour picker, go nuts", but "Here's 8 user card background colours to choose from" would be nice.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 0:16
  • 10
    I'd never seen the word "lift" used in this way before ("much lower lifts on our engineering teams") until both this question and this answer - what does it mean in this context?
    – Philip C
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 6:10
  • 4
    @PhilipC Wiktionary's noun(10) sense seems to fit: “The amount or weight to be lifted.”
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 8:08
  • 6
    "I am currently looking into different kinds of community events we can run around engagement" - No "fun" event can distract me from all of the unfun things the company did over the last years. Instead, how about an event where the company takes the concerns of quality focused experts seriously? No hats or other BS required. And you know what's more "crucial to a community being a community" than some seasonal events? Actually feeling like feedback from expert community members matters and isn't just handwaved away or ignored entirely by the company.
    – l4mpi
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 10:43
  • 14
    Also, just generally boosting engagement is NOT in the interest of the wider community. It has to be the right form of engagement; we already have enough people on SO spamming useless edits to questions that should be closed without promising them a hat or some other garbage if they do that a hundred times. And based on the current track record I don't have confidence that the company will manage to launch events that promote the kind of engagement that improves the site and community.
    – l4mpi
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 10:49
  • 4
    @Mithical I love the idea of bringing back more of these community-run contests. I find them really meaningful since they are community-conceived and driven.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 13:19
  • 1
    @spencerg what about participating in (and boosting) advent of code? Maybe let people supply their aoc login and then do more enriched/segmented leaderboards for SO people?
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 14:02
  • 1
    @PhilipC It's a description of the level of effort; a "lower lift" is a smaller level of effort or workload on the engineering team.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 16:23
  • 12
    I'm part of the user community for Home Assistant, a popular home automation tool. There, there's a yearly event called the "Month of 'What the Heck?'", where users are asked to bring any bugs or missing expected features which have been bothering them, for discussion and prioritized attention. Since capacity is being freed up by ending Winter Bash, maybe Stack Exchange could consider a similar event, smashing some of the many long-stale feature requests or bug reports so as to help cultivate some community goodwill?
    – Sam Hanley
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:13
  • @Robotnik - Thing is, you can do that now by creating your own avatar/profile image and uploading it to your profile. You don't need the developers to do something special for you to achieve it. It's already there. Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 10:30
  • 1
    @Mithical Thank you for sharing that. We have been collecting past community contests like these to look at and see what we can learn from them.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 14:20
  • 3
    @SamHanley Interesting thank you for sharing.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 14:21

"We have come here not to mourn Winter Bash but to bury it"

Honestly? I feel rather... meh about Winter Bash going away.

I am rather annoyed at the lack of community consultation, and while this is generally not a good year, between the annual April Fools day prank being cancelled, the protest action and now this. Of many years, this is the one that needs frivolous joy.

On one hand it was the last big community event, and probably the only network wide one. We'd already also lost things like the big formal graduations, site anniversaries. The company spends millions on big events apparently, and it's sad to see this one go.

On the other hand, it was getting stale - and we were recycling hats and such.

I guess the real question is - what do you think you should do instead?

  • 28
    I'm not sure that community consultation could've done all that much on this one. (Or at least, I'm not particularly annoyed by the lack of it.) On the community side we see the fun side (or the fading thereof...) but we don't really see the expenses side. The call "this is too expensive to keep running anymore" isn't something where we can have a proper two-sided conversation with both sides understanding each other's constraints.
    – E.P.
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 12:18
  • I never really talked about hat rationales - rather the broader scope of 'why' winterbash was important, especially in a year where... quite a lot has gone badly. Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 9:31
  • 3
    If something isn't actually related to the core Q&A product and it is taking up developer time, then I actually think that the company doesn't need to consult the community before closing it down. Winter bash like April Fools is just fun bonus content. They wouldn't consult the community before sending out them coffee mugs and t-shirts either.
    – Lundin
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 9:23
  • Well that stopped too. And I'd say healthy sites are more than just 'core' Q&A development. I suspect the general consensus about winterbash is "Meh" but it would still be at least asking about/communicating about it . Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 10:33

All good things must come
to an end; Winter Bash, we'll
remember the fun.

No more hats, alas.
Now go and rest, Defender
of the Unicorn!

  • 7
    A wonderful excerpt from the writings of Winter Bashō!
    – Deusovi
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 12:34

I've enjoyed Winter Bash quite a bit. It's been the highlight of more than one of my days, our own little annual celebration. (At times, it was the reason I did anything at all.) I'm sad to see it end.

But honestly, this tracks. When I do something for the first time, it's a fun novelty. If I enjoy it enough, I might repeat it. But do it too often, and it becomes an obligation – a thing that I do – long past the point it ceases to be enjoyable. Mandatory fun is not fun. It is, in fact, very bad.

If it's not fun for y'all any more, I honestly don't care how fun it is for us. Stack Exchange Inc.'s job is to keep the Stack Exchange network up and running (and, every so often, make it better). That's the only thing that should be causing any of you distress (as staff) – and even then, only to the extent it absolutely has to.

I don't think the proportion who chose to wear hats is an accurate metric for either deliberate participation in, or enjoyment of, any given Winter Bash. (For instance, I would wear nothing until I got a hat I liked, then wear it upside down and as large as possible for the rest of the Bash.) It's an approximate lower bound, perhaps. This is irrelevant. Even if everyone liked it, that wouldn't matter in the slightest. If fun gets in the way of high-quality Q&A, we hate fun. If Winter Bash has become a poor use of your limited resources, that's the end of it.

I'm disappointed we're losing this tradition. If you “don’t have the bandwidth” for Winter Bash any more, be proud of your decision to stop running it, however difficult it may have been. Things change. That's okay. Thanks for running it as long as you did, and thanks for giving us this much notice of the cancellation.

P.S.: There's good odds I'll be annoyed by whatever new fun thing you next decide to do, however many years down the line that is. So long as it doesn't interfere with Q&A, and I can turn it off (regardless of whether I like it): go right ahead, and don't let my disapproval stop you.

As for next steps… Stack Apps exists, and we might be getting improvements to the API. If we get organised enough before perihelion season, we could run our own Winter Bash. If we wanted to, that is. I hear it's a lot of work.

  • 8
    Thanks for the kind words, and the constructive feedback (positive, negative, and neutral)! :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:06
  • 12
    I'm actually a huge fan of what Stack Apps does with the App of the Month and what some of our other communities do or have done in the past in terms of contests. I'd love to see if there is a sustainable way to revive some of that network wide in the future.
    – Rosie StaffMod
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:18
  • 5
    @Rosie it is worth mentioning that at Stack Apps we still accept new nominations for old and new apps/script/libraries to be in the spotlight as App of the Month and our community bulletin features Calling SE APIs with Nushell (basic overview) for the month September 2023.
    – rene
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 18:21

I see the sunsetting of Winter/Summer Bash to be change. I try not to take issue with change, because change is inevitable. There is an issue with which I do see as an issue.

I've been a member of the Stack Exchange network for over 10 years. I joined SE for two reasons. Having been a moderator on several typical forums, I didn't like how people could just throw things out there and there seemed to be no accountability for false or incorrect information. Here on SE there was a way to deal with bad information and also to get recognized for good information. That portion of SE remains. I also liked what I perceived as the community aspect. People can come together to solve issues and learn something. This community aspect seems to be suffering and has degraded over the last few years. Maybe this is because SE has become too big? Maybe it's because leadership/management has changed which caused a change of direction? Maybe it's because world events have caused us all to re-evaluate our priorities? I don't really know. It's probably a conglomerations of things all picking at things at the same time.

Whatever reason has caused this shift, the community aspect I once enjoyed here seems to be quickly diminishing. I don't blame the death of Winter/Summer Bash as another nail in that coffin, but rather, the lack of something to replace it. If Winter/Summer Bash has become stale (in all fairness, I was one of the 1% last year ... my avatar lends to wearing a hat! :o), why don't you figure out something to replace it with before you kill it off? Without a replacement, the coffin which holds community is becoming more and more sealed. Quit trying to put a death knell upon SE. Try to reinvigorate the community rather than pushing it 6' under. Without community, SE will fail. Taking away more of what makes this a community without something to replace it is leading directly there.

  • 14
    but collectives!
    – Kevin B
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 14:43
  • 1
    "People can come together to solve issues and learn something." This hasn't changed, I don't think. Maybe you know more now, so don't learn as much? Maybe you don't have the same appetite for it as you did back then? Maybe you have less time? People change, but perceive their environment changing instead. "Things were better in the old days" is something everyone has said at some point, since the dawn of human civilization. Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 19:45
  • 1
    @CrisLuengo - I think you missed the beginning of my post. I get change. I try to understand change. I don't even have a problem with it. We all change. None of this was really my point. My point is, as more things get taken away without replacement of some type, community suffers. Plus all of the faux pas which SE corporate has done over the last few years, starting with Monica, it isn't seen to be getting better. Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 20:24

Promote the existing fun

I'll miss Winter Bash (or "Winter/Summer Bash" if you prefer). Let's do something else to keep up the spirit and also drive traffic to our sites that need it.

Many sites have existing "fun" which is organized on their meta sites: Topic challenges. Picture competitions. Favorite posts lists. Many of these posts can be enjoyed by a wider audience, and promoting them could be very simple in terms of staff involvement. The most basic option would be to feature a post about one (or several?) of these events here on Meta Stack Exchange when there's a lull in other announcements, like is the case in December/January.

This is of course motivated in part by my own series of topic challenges, which has been usually failing to get any participants other than myself, hosted on a site where activity (and even traffic) is very low despite having a pretty universal topic — we are all here writing, after all.

  • RIP WB. While Organize a Photo Competition similar to travel.meta.stackexchange.com: got this answer from mod: While I like the idea (I am known to occasionally share photos in the Frying Pan), I am not sure whether we as mods have the energy to orchestrate it - or whether we even should. from dec 2022
    – Vickel
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 23:54
  • 3
    ^ either we have a company event like WB, or we are looking at local events on small sites organized by enthusiastic moderators/users for a minority of users, who most likely never won't get into visiting a "fellow" SE site
    – Vickel
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 0:02
  • 2
    Another community run event is Screenshot of the Week on Arqade meta (currently on #98!)
    – GammaGames
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:40
  • SOCVR often has messages with "screenshot of the day" nominations; typically exhibiting exceptionally bad ones. I guess some beginners might find this more "toxic" than funny, but perhaps it could be turned into a teachable moment if repackaged with a different spin.
    – tripleee
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 8:01
  • 2
    Personally, I'm definitely in support of doing more to promote (internally and externally) the various community engagement activities that our sites are already doing. :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:50

This kind of for-fun project often costs more on paper, but brought a lot of morale and good will with it, which brings back a lot of value and energy. While the numbers on paper make sense, it's really just unfortunate that we're not going to be having hats.

I'm not...happy about this. I get why you're doing it, but we didn't need this morale obliterating news when we've (read: community and company and executive leadership) had a rocky year with each other, when the year isn't even over yet.

  • 20
    The apparent time costs sound very high for the level of benefit delivered. I'm more than a bit skeptical that hat-time would come around and suddenly people in the community would see the company in a new positive light, especially for an event that has gotten a bit stale. If there were some way to make it more reasonable in scope of effort I wouldn't see much harm in it. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:28
  • 5
    @BryanKrause: It was something fun to look forward to. Even if it was a bit stale it was known, and sprucing it up is one of those perennial challenges where getting buy-in or consensus on what to do next takes time. But to be more pointed, if the company was feeling like this was dragging on or not that exciting, why didn't they take any of our feedback on board?? I would imagine that we'd have some things to contribute to this discussion if it really was the case that they were running out of ways to keep it fresh. They're not in some echo chamber, after all.
    – Makoto
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:43
  • 17
    I'm sure just as many people feel like "Why are you spending developer time on hats instead of my favorite feature request"; hats-related features, fun as they might be, seem like they should be pretty low-priority to me. It would be one thing if these were little hobby projects by someone in their spare time, but instead it sounds like a pretty clunky system that took a lot of effort to run. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 21:52
  • 2
    @BryanKrause: I'm not contending against the time/effort to run vs the apparent value, but I would adamantly reject any notion of this being something they deprioritize in favor of them prioritizing anything we want. This is going to be time and energy going straight into their corporate priorities, which is fine, but I don't want it conflated that their priorities and my priorities align all that well.
    – Makoto
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 22:06
  • 6
    They're looking at fixing long-standing website accessibility bugs, improving the API, and fixing the more irritating aspects of the left sidebar. That's not nothing.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 22:50
  • 4
    @wizzwizz4: If that was a priority, then Winterbash would've been mothballed a long time ago with that as the explicit reason instead of a "it's honestly too expensive to do this" reason. So I see the work on all of those initiatives as serendipitous rather than where the attention will really go after this is done.
    – Makoto
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 7:06
  • 13
    @Makoto You're modelling Stack Exchange as an ideal perfectly-rational agent, whose efforts may be just as easily directed anywhere, who aligns its actions with a strategy that optimises with respect to a coherent utility function. I've never seen any group do that. (Heck, it's hard enough finding a single person who behaves that way.) Attention is not a fungible resource, person-hours are not necessarily transferable, and not everything is part of a grand strategy.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 8:29
  • 2
    @wizzwizz4 "[N]ot everything is part of a grand strategy." Quoted for truth — this is very hard to keep in mind, but extremely important. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 15:26
  • 3
    They said 1% wore a hat last time. I wonder how many explicitly "hated hats". I participated in winter bash for a year or two, but I quickly ended up being annoyed by a lot of harmful behaviours it would encourage (e.g. the swarms of entitled randos demanding their messages be starred in chat for a new year's hat, and similar disruptive incentives on the main site). If more people ended up hating winter bash than loving it then axing can even be a net benefit to the community... :P Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 19:56
  • 4
    @AndrasDeak--СлаваУкраїні: I'm still taking that percentage with a grain of salt. Participation network-wide is at its lowest in December, since many of the normal site-goers are off of school or on vacation. Then factor in the even lower actual percentage of "community" that's just always around. 1% sounds low on paper, but I wonder if that's really how many daily users actually are in this so-called community. Y'know, those who care to do things here beyond finding an answer to their question.
    – Makoto
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 14:38

It is a pity. This was a good tradition. And I didn't have time to enjoy it, because I have registered just in December 2022... But the community thinks it's the right solution (+113/-53) - maybe it is?

And I hope that released resources will be used for something useful: for example, for bug fixes, yes?

  • 4
    You are not the only one. Literally I didn't even knew what is it but I was hoping to try it. Aaaand... Sunsetting Winter/Summer Bash :'( Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 5:29

I never participate in it myself, but I always enjoyed seeing other people finding clever ways to spice up their profiles with hats. Although I'm not too sad to see Winter Bash go, I'm excited at the prospect of something fresh ultimately replacing it. It would be interesting to see something integrated with the theme of the sites involved.

After last year’s event, we analyzed some of the data, and this is what we found:

I'd be curious to know how this compares to past years.


It'll feel a bit less like Christmas without the hats on Stack Overflow, but I admit that I, too, have been less engaged with them in the past couple years. As part of a team that has had to make difficult cuts to product features and personnel over the past year, and needing to do more with less at times, I understand SO's position.

Perhaps an advent-calendar-style event would make sense this year.

Setting up a separate site page wouldn't require too much effort. Each day leading up to Christmas there could be a link to a new download, etc. (Maybe one day could be the SVGs or renders for Winter Bash hats from prior years, so people can add them to their profile pictures manually.)

Even just a bit of a style change to the site in general to mark the holidays would add a bit of cheer.


In the realm of knowledge's vast expanse,

Where questions abound and answers commence,

A festive tradition we'll miss,

Winter Bash, with its hats and its bliss,

Now bids us farewell, a poignant glance.

  • 3
    ... you forgot the last line "That all started with the big bang" :P
    – SPArcheon
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 9:38
  • @SPArcheon Good one
    – CinCout
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 9:59

To be honest, when I first joined and was using the Stack Exchange network it was a particular community (the Raspberry Pi site) that drew me in as I had bought one of the beasties (Ooops, that more accurately refers to FreeBSD - which Unix & Linux has been helpful for) devices and was seeking out advice and information. However over time that pursuit has waned, yet for several years Winter/Summer Bash pulled me back into visiting the communities.

Now, though, with some (because I haven't been around much to catch all I suspect) of the "upsets" that have occurred around here, my response to a future devoid of festive headwear is sadly now a resounding, meh! I mean, I probably won't even try to kindle a small spark of festive interest in SE at the end of 2023—sadly I suspect I won't be the only one.

  • 4
    Correct! You're not the only one. :/ Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 6:31
  • 2
    To counteract anecdata with anecdata: I never really got Winter/Summer Bash - I've always thought of it a silly thing that wasn't even fun. And given the numbers above, I suspect we're more than you :-) Note: I was not involved at all in the decision!
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 16:05
  • Personally, I enjoyed Winter Bash as a regular user (mostly on RPG.SE) the first time I learned about it – but the hats also didn't do much to increase my participation on the site. I might have sought out the hats the first time around, but some of them were contingent on me having good questions or answers to post on the site, and it was hard for me to find things to post beyond my regular activity on the site. And once the novelty wore off after my first WB, it did even less for me.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:54
  • 1
    I liked that it was a "fun" thing the company did, but the hats weren't a big factor. Something like the knitting "minigame" (or similar) was definitely more fun to me than just the same sort of hat-collecting mechanism every year.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:57

Discovered Meta Stack Exchange during Winter Bash 2015, previously hung out on Meta Stack Overflow. Joined Meta Stack Exchange 8 years ago and posted my first answer here.

Winter Bash drew me into MSE, creating some wonderful #WinterBashMemories.

Winter Bash


No more New things..
No more New stuffs..
No more New Hats forever..

No New Questions..
No New Users..
No News



Good riddance!

I can't be the only one who loves the Stack Exchange network because of its focus on questions and answers instead of the traditional forum or mailing list that invariably end up with a small clique of users who keep butting in on every thread without much to say except they have nothing better to do.

If I remember correctly, that was also one of the initial goals or tool to drive up the signal-to-noise ratio—reduce the social networking to the minimum necessary level. There should not be a community; there isn't any need for one!

  • Re "end up with a small clique of users": I think that happens as well on the smaller Stack Exchange sites Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:08
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum I agree, but there they still tend to add value by giving straight answers to the questions posted, and they can't easily push out others who want to answer - other than giving a better answer!
    – pipe
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:26
  • 7
    I think you've missed that the question and answer bit doesn't exist without the support from the community; that's kinda the whole backbone of the Stack Exchange model.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 19:33
  • 5
    @zcoop98 Wrong. The content of the question is what matters, not who asks it or what kind of relation they have to the unknown people who knows the answer. The same goes for those who know the answer to the question and decides to write an answer. Their relation to OP, other people here, or the company, has no significance to the quality of the answer. Joining is free and effortless, and unnecessary for reading. This is why Stack Exchanged prevailed over the old forum model.
    – pipe
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 19:48
  • 18
    Your description of the asker/answerer element of the site is accurate but it misses out on a lot of the core functionality of how the platform works. While many people are happy to ask and answer - there are many others who don't wish to create content but still want to support the site. These are often referred to as curators - people who vote, close, delete, edit... all extremely necessary tasks and things missing in many other platforms. Without these, I'd argue SO/SE would have failed. Thing is, that can get kinda lonely and determining how to properly curate isn't a one-person task.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 22:28
  • 7
    So people who hang around form communities to consult with each other and determine some norms for the platform and moderation policy. That's where Meta came from originally (as a replacement for UserVoice forums)... and people have consistently found meta to be a great place for this purpose. These policies are a core part of the sites here and without community determining those norms, I don't think the sites would be as successful. ... and then we added Chat. The third place.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 22:31
  • 14
    Chat is a place to discuss questions and answers, site policy and norms, and a place to just relax and get to know the other people participating on the site or network. Many community projects that make moderation and spam prevention possible wouldn't exist without chat and so to imply that community isn't a core element of the site fails to recognize that. Can you participate on SE/SO without any of that - absolutely! and many do. But to imply that it's not part of the site is to look only at the surface of the water and say that there are no fish.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 22:34

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