About matrioshka and balalaika
Matrioshka and balalaika are neither symbols of Russian militaries nor the symbols of current Russian regime. They are just elements of Russian culture. I don't think we should overreact them.
At least, in that way they're perceived by the most of the world. (Some even (I suppose, wrongly) assume matryoshka to be a positive symbol of the whole East European and/or Slavic culture — this is probably wrong, but, I suppose, many in Western countries think in that way and we can't make them change their opinions instantly.)
While, due to the events of the recent years, many Ukrainians feel angry/sad when seeing/hearing anything related to Russians — but this, to be honest, is not constructive. For WWII we blame Nazis, not Germans. Similarly, I think, for the recent events we should blame specific regime/politicians, not all Russians.
About our actions
- I don't think that we should insist or even plea to change Winter Bash hats on the whole Stack Exchange.
- Never-the-less, given that many Ukrainians (and thus many visitors of this site) perceive these symbols negatively, it may be reasonable to disable these hats (or the whole Winter Bash?) specifically on the Ukrainian site.
However, for the second, I see technical and other obstacles:
Technical: as a moderator, I don't have control over enabling/disabling specific hats and/or the whole Winter Bash on the site. (Even more — AFAIK, hats are global, not per-site, so, I suppose, even higher-level moderator/administrators might be unable to do site-specific changes in hats.) Of course, we can write a plea to global meta, but…
Other: AFAIK, we have critically low amount of visitors (especially active ones). (This is actually much larger problem by itself, than negative hats in Winter Bash, but may it interfere with the hat-stuff too.) Typical responses I foresee are:
- “you are so small/unsuccessful, why do you expect us to do any changes for you?”,
- “this site has so low activity that probably no one will ever reach these hats until the end-date of Winter bash (Jan-5, IIRC), so why do you care?”
(of course, nobody will say it directly, people are polite here, but we should understand that Stack Exchange is not a charity organization, and our site probably already brings more expenses than benefits for a long time).
Never-the-less, if common opinion on UkrSE would be “to write”, then I will write.
I would write something like:
We understand that these symbols (matrioshka and balalaika) aren't evil per se, but, against the backdrop of recent history events, they may be perceived quite negatively by significant part of Ukrainian community.
From logical point of view it may be quite irrational, but people are not 100%-logical, they have feelings, and we should respect the feelings of our visitors.
We don't plea for StackExchange-wide changes but only for changes that would be local for Ukrainian Language SE. Is it possible:
- either to remove these two hats,
- or to replace them with some other (we can suggest ideas, provide paintings and etc),
- or to disable Winter Bash on this specific site?
(I actually am afraid we can get more negative effect than positive — i.e. that it will cause paying attention to our low popularity rather than Winter Bash changes — but if community thinks we should submit it, I will.)
Upd. This answer got 1 upvote, 0 downvotes and 0 comments. The question itself, despite being “featured”, got 2 upvotes and 1 downvote. So it looks like either there's really not many people here, or people here don't really care about this matter — in either case, IMHO, it makes not much sense to write a plea to the Stack Exchange. (And the most upvoted answer here is about personal (not site-wide) adjustments.) I don't give up my words, if I see a public demand on this topic, I'll submit a plea, but I don't see it.
Upd 2. After watching how Winter Bash goes, I think this topic is overreaction. Stack Exchange isn't focused specifically on the Russian symbols (as one may thought), it contains plenty of (public and secret) hats referring to cultures of various nations (e.g. Hanafuda, Kitsune, Wa-boushi (Japanese), Bûche de Noël (French), Milliner (originally Italian), etc); and, besides that, as I've said before, aforementioned Russian hats are just elements of Russian culture, not symbols of Russian militaries and/or of specific regime.