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How to run a successful Hackathon A step-by-step guide by Joshua Tauberer based on running and participating in many hackathons.
What is a hackathon? Hacking is creative problem solving. It does not have to involve technology. A hackathon is any event of any duration where people come together to solve problems. Participants typically form groups of about individuals, take out their laptops if the event is technology themedand dive into problems.
Training workshops are a great parallel track especially for newcomers but also for all participants. Positive energy Hackathons have gotten a bad rap because of some that have an unhealthy, competitive structure, and for setting unrealistic expectations.
Here are the goals I keep in mind: Strengthen the community that the hackathon is for. Be welcoming to newcomers to the community. Provide an opportunity for participants to learn something new. Provide a space and a time for participants to make headway on problems they are interested in.
Real life problems are hard! Think of the hackathon as a pit-stop on a long journey to solve problems or as a training session to prepare participants for solving problems. There has never been beer, competitions, or time pressure at my hackathons.
Participants should come energized and be greeted with positive energy. I take it for granted that you want to run a hackathon.
Think Again by Laurenellen McCann for thoughts on other and sometimes better ways of engaging a community. If the goal of your hackathon is to market a product, stop here and read a different guide. Your goals and my goals are not the same.
Welcoming newcomers The hardest thing about running a successful hackathon is being welcoming to newcomers and helping them get involved in an activity.
First time hackathon participants are often overwhelmed when it comes time to finding a project to work on. They may not yet know how to relate their own skills to the sorts of projects being worked on. Knowing how to be useful is a skill in itself. You will need to guide them to a project and through a process for them to realize how they can contribute.
If you have too many lost participants and not enough help in getting them started on a project, they will leave — try to avoid that.
The hackathon organizer must make sure that everyone has something to do. One way to do this is to have a list of project leaders ahead of time: And you can work to make sure your hacking projects are ready to accept newcomers.
You can also hold non-project activities — workshops, described below — which are easier for newcomers to join. You could also consider pairing newcomers with mentors or holding a pre-event session just for newcomers, as Wikimedia recently did.
Hacking The hacking track is for participants to dive into problems. Often groups of individuals form around a project, such as building a new data visualization, writing a document, or collaboratively investigating a problem.
Participants take out their laptops, connect to power and wifi, and get working. Hacking begins with project introductions. Participants that bring projects to the event have an opportunity to briefly 1 minute max explain what they are working on at the very start of the event so that other participants can join that project.
At the end of the event, a wrap-up session gives each project a chance to demonstrate some accomplishments.
Cultivating Good Projects Not every project makes a good hackathon project. It is extremely important to maximize the following qualities in the projects at your event:Lyrics to 'One Step At A Time' by Jordin Sparks: It's gonna happen when it's Supposed to happen that we Find the reasons why.
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GitHub is where people build software. More than 28 million people use GitHub to discover, fork, and contribute to over 85 million projects. After you publish your petition, it’s time to start promoting! You have 30 days to gather the , signatures required for a response, so it’s good to hit the ground running.
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