So after years of intense brainstorming and field testing Valve has finally come to the incredible realization that randomness doesn’t equal fairness. How amazingly profound. Unfortunately, I and many others had already known this for ever.
The randomness of the system they created was not only unfair, but actually promoted and rewarded bad behavior (idling) more then anything else. Proof of this can be plainly seen in the latest changes to the drop system. The only way Valve could discourage idling was to make the randomness of the drop system almost completely negligible.
Valve’s original dilemma was that once crafting was implemented players would be able to get hats much more quickly then before, so they decreased the drop rate drastically. However, this meant that the chances of getting a drop was so low that only idling for hours would guarantee any kind of real hope. So Valve changed the system to have very little randomness, allowing them to both guarantee item drops for players that don’t idle and limit the amount you can get (so you don’t gain them too quickly). Making a terrible system a little bit fairer for everyone.
All in all I view this as a victory for dirty idlers everywhere. If it wasn’t for the idlers Valve would have probably never changed it. The new system doesn’t discourage idling as much as it makes idling easier so you don’t have to idle as long.
I stopped idling a long while ago because the chances of getting a drop was so very low that only the most hardcore fanatic would be crazy enough to keep their PC running 24/7 for the chance of getting something, but now since idling is so much easier it makes the idea of idling much more attractive. This way you can gain a few items each day and build a hat for those rare occasions when you might come back and play a little.