It’s been an amazing year for Stack Exchange, both as a network of experts and enthusiasts and as an organization. We launched twenty new sites, rolled out tons of user-requested features, and are helping 99% more visitors get answers than we were a year ago. Last year, we celebrated the holidays on Gaming with Hat Dash, where users collected virtual hats by doing various (good, helpful) things on the site. They were sort of like festive, temporary badges (and, like badges, borrowed another good idea from the XBox - earning the ability to customize your avatar). The response from that event was so positive, we decided to extend that to the _entire network_1 this holiday season.
What is Winter Bash?
From 19 December to 4 January you’ll be able to decorate your gravatar with a special hat. The hats used on Arqade smelled a bit funny, so we made up an all-new set of hats for you to earn this year. In fact, many of these “hats” aren’t even hats! There are sunglasses, moustaches, masks and other assorted headgear. Each hat has different criteria to unlock it, and there are even some secret hats that you won’t find out about until you happen to stumble across them accidentally.
Hats show up all over the site, wherever your gravatar is shown (well, except for a few places where they didn’t fit, like chat). To change which hat you’re wearing, or to admire your lovely hat collection, just visit http://winterba.sh or check out your user page:
You'll also get a notification when you earn a new item:
For all those of you who really hate hats, there’s an "I hate hats" link in the Winter Bash dropdown. But give it a shot before you turn it off -- you might find a hat you like!
Check out the Winter Bash FAQ for more details.
Why are we doing this?
Because it’s fun, and we love fun - at least, constructive fun, in moderation, at the end of a long, exciting and eventful year. Also, hats are awesome.2 1Well. Only those sites that opted to participate. You must opt-in on Stack Overflow. 2 Please note: virtual hats do not protect against the harmful rays of the sun - always wear sunscreen!