I really loved seeing how you all got creative in making your gravatars work with the hats -- some of which were comically large! Below are a very small number of the hats I enjoyed seeing. There were just too many hats I liked; I have tons and tons of screencaps of users wearing hats in fun, funny, cool, and/or interesting ways.
On some sites, even the Community ♦ user got into the spirit of things:
The best surprise (aside from the little blue circle letting me know I'd gotten another hat!) was seeing users I didn't expect to enjoy hats sporting all sorts of interesting looks. Since Stack Overflow in particular tends to have a stronger "professional" focus, I tend to forget that folks who are passionate about their work get just as passionate about having fun now and again. Seeing some top users from all over the network equipping headgear, well, it caught me off guard and made me smile.
Several of you also found the "easter egg" on the Winter Bash site -- holding down Ctrl and collecting all the falling snowflakes revealed a snowy pink unicorn!
One of the things I wanted to look into is how a temporary, high-profile badge can alter behaviors. While some users have mentioned that they stuck around more, was this true at large? The data are not really clear. Sites with a very high hats-to-users ratio saw serious increases in posts created during this time, visits, and general positive responses from traffic. Straw polls of the moderation teams would seem to indicate that general site upkeep (things like flags, edit queues, and other mod-actions) held stable. Anecdotally, the review queues seemed extra empty, though whether that was because fewer folks were around the sites or because everyone really wanted Le Magritte isn't clear.
I know I consider this event a real success! It's been a pleasure seeing everyone get excited, wear silly headgear, and just generally loosen up a bit as the year drew to a close. Special thanks to Stack Exchange developers Emmett and balpha for building this and keeping it running smoothly, to VP of Engineering David Fullerton for coordination, guidance and encouragement, and to the aforementioned Jin for the beautiful design work.
The Future of Hats
I definitely want to try for some things for the next time:
- Hats in chat has been requested before. I'd like to push for this for next year.
- Site-specific hats would be super cool. Some sites unofficially got a hat -- Seasoned Advice and Home Improvement -- but I'd love to see more sites get their own bespoke hats.
- More hats! Secret hats seemed to get people the most excited -- adding more of those to the batch next year strikes me as a very good idea.
If you have suggestions or feedback about Winter Bash, please feel free to answer this post. I'm going to keep an eye on it, and gather ideas and improvements for next year from your responses. When we first tried out this idea on Arqade, it wasn't entirely clear this would be well-received elsewhere. But, based on what I've seen these past few weeks, I don't think we've seen the last of Hats on Stack Exchange.