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The origins of the halo are unknown, but are believed to have been introduced in 2004 . At the time only people who donated directly through the store could receive halos. Now Wrimos who get sponsored or raise the full amount for the Night of Writing Dangerously can also receive halos.
When donating, Wrimos can choose whether they wish to receive a halo. This is a separate option from choosing the other donor goodies, so Wrimos who don't want the rest of the donor goodies can still receive a halo. They may also pass their halo on to another user by entering that Wrimo's name where prompted. This is particularly useful while performing a halo spree on Donation Days. As of 2016, it is now possible to easily gift a halo to another Wrimo directly through the NaNoWriMo store.
Before NaNoWriMo's move to Ruby on Rails, the halo appears with the Wrimo's username both in the "created" and "last post" columns of a forum and beside the post itself, as shown.
NaNo has also introduced halos over each badge in the years participated and won area of user profiles. The halos over the years indicate a donation to the NaNoWriMo nonprofit. They do not indicate halos gained from MLing, so MLs who donated their halo to someone else won't see a halo for that year.
In February 2017 NaNoWriMo introduced the paper crown to replace the halo for the Patrons of Prose who donate monthly.
The Script Frenzy equivalent of the halo was the golden ticket. It was introduced in 2007 with Script Frenzy and worked the same way as the halo.