Challenge Project


Market days of the ancient Roman calendar, forming a kind of weekend including, for a certain period, rest from work for the ruling class.

TL;DR Some aspects of hackathons and Hacker Culture are great, others, less so: as we explore in this critique of the prevailing opinion on how events are run and perceived by the more ambitious participant. We propose that people are actually able to run their own hackathons, on their own schedule - without being dependent on the whole infrastructure, though they may be in need of some guidance. Good rules and personal habits may actually enhance public events, help us to prepare for healthier cooperation, and allow us more enjoyment of the shared ritual. The challenge now is to move forward in support of this.

See also:

Hack Code of Conduct
Hack:Org:X v.1 Challenge

A generic and configurable Code of Conduct for hackathons

A chat with 'the Internet'

GPT-4, please give me a critique of hackathons concerning malpractices and inconsistent expectations?

Hackathons are events where participants come together to collaborate and create innovative solutions to specific challenges within a limited time frame. These events have gained popularity in recent years, with organizations using them as a means for innovation and problem-solving. However, there are concerns about the exploitation of participants and the ambiguity of expectations.

One of the most significant criticisms of hackathons is that they are often held on weekends, which can be seen as a way to sidestep labor laws and exploit participants. Since hackathons are often unpaid, participants are expected to work for extended hours to create innovative solutions. This practice can lead to work precarization and free labor, with organizers benefiting from the work of participants without providing them with fair compensation.

Furthermore, the ambiguity of expectations in hackathons can lead to misunderstandings among participants and stakeholders. As the prompt notes, hackathons can have vastly different goals and structures, which can make it challenging for participants to know what they are signing up for. This can lead to situations where participants end up working on projects that do not align with their interests or values.

Uh-oh. Are there any other issues to think about?

In addition to these concerns, there is the issue of sponsor influence in hackathons. Sponsors can often dictate the goals and direction of hackathons, which can lead to a focus on profit over innovation and creativity. This can also lead to situations where participants are working on projects that are not truly innovative or beneficial to society, but rather designed to meet the needs of the sponsor.

Hackathons are often held on weekends because it is a convenient time for participants who have full-time jobs or other weekday obligations. By holding the event on the weekend, participants are more likely to be able to commit to the event without having to take time off work or rearrange their weekday schedule. Additionally, weekends are often considered a more relaxed time where people can focus on their interests and hobbies, making them a suitable time for events that require a lot of creative thinking and problem-solving. However, as mentioned earlier, holding hackathons on weekends also raises concerns about exploitation of participants and sidestepping labor laws.

Wow! I don't know much about the history of the labour movement. Enlighten me.

In the context of hackathons, the history of the labor movement is relevant because it highlights the importance of fair labor practices and workers' rights. The exploitation of participants in hackathons through unpaid labor and the ambiguity of expectations raises concerns about labor rights and the need to ensure that participants are not exploited for their skills and talents. By learning from the history of the labor movement, we can ensure that workers' rights and fair labor practices are respected in all aspects of work, including hackathons.

Amazing. Do the plebiscites of Ancient Rome have any connection to today's hackathons?

There may be some similarities in terms of participation and representation. The plebiscite was an opportunity for ordinary citizens to have a say in the governing of Rome and to participate in the political process. Similarly, hackathons can provide an opportunity for individuals to participate in the innovation process and collaborate on solutions to civic problems. However, it is important to note that hackathons are not necessarily democratic in nature, and the goals and direction of the event are often determined by sponsors or organizers.

I will definitely keep this in mind. Let's bring this together. In summary ...

In summary, hackathons can be a useful tool for innovation and problem-solving, but there are significant concerns about their structure, timing and impact. The exploitation of participants, ambiguity of expectations, sponsor influence, and effect on work-life balance, are all valid criticisms of hackathons. As with any event or initiative, it is important to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks carefully before deciding to participate.

What if someone wants to run a hackathon on their own terms, on their own schedule, or in the company of friends?

There are several things they can do to ensure that the event is organized in a fair and equitable manner:

  1. Before the event, it is important to clearly define the goals and expectations of the hackathon, including the scope of the projects, their milestones, and the desired outcomes.
  2. It is important to ensure that all participants are treated fairly and that their contributions are valued. This includes setting reasonable expectations for participation, including the amount of time and effort required.
  3. To ensure that the event is respectful and inclusive, it is important to establish a code of conduct that outlines expectations for behavior and interactions between participants.
  4. Try to create a supportive environment where all participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas and contributing to the project. This can be done by establishing a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.
  5. Use good tools to help facilitate communication and engage others, including messaging apps, project management tools, and online design platforms.

By following these guidelines, we can improve future events - or help individuals to organize a hackathon on their own terms - in a way that is fair, inclusive, and respectful to all participants.

Thanks GPT, you're such a pal!

You're welcome! It was my pleasure to help you. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions or if there's anything else I can help you with.

(Note: responses were redacted for readability and DRY)

Thoughts from 'the People'

Hackathons are intensely social events where programmers get together over a weekend to create innovative apps. A hackathon is made up of hackers, who often hack overnight, or at least on very little sleep, there are companies with mentors, who usually teach workshops and provide software with easy-to-use APIs and of course there is swag, tons of swag.

-- IBM Developer Advocate - Medium

Does your proposed date fall on public holidays or in the holiday season? Check websites like Meetup or tweet to find out it of it clashes with niche conferences or other similar hackathons. Your target audience will tell you what days are most likely to work; for example, students could find weeknights tough. Weekends are most popular. Ensure you factor in extra minutes to prepare the venue and clean up after the event. Hackathons are more frequent between January and April and September and November in Europe and the U.S.

-- HackerEarth

Schedule the hackathon for a typically slow weekend. You'll have a better turnout for your event if it's scheduled on a weekend when most participants will be free. This means that you should avoid scheduling the event during summer and winter breaks or near national holidays. Also make sure that your hackathon doesn't overlap with major conferences in your field.

-- How to run a hackathon - WikiHow

“I learned more in one weekend than I did in the last month of lectures!”

-- Hackathons are for Beginners - Medium

With (hopefully) a world-wide group of participants, and varying real life constraints, at any given time over the weekend there will hopefully be a couple of people active.

-- Virtual FSweekend Hackathon

“We didn’t want people to think, ‘Oh my Gosh, in one or two days, I will have this solution in a box for this very tough challenge,’” Bergin explained.

-- Tips for designing effective hackathons for social impact

We often laugh at fancy tech, looking for a problem to solve. But if the open movement fails to take into account what the popular sentiment is, and what it asks for, it will become just as detached.

-- Gatekeepers of open - Open Future

Bring an idea to life in a weekend! Make an impact on someone’s life!

-- Timeline of a Hackathon - Medium

In fact, the ability for hackathons to create an intentional space off work hours may play a key role to their value, taking the minds of participants outside their typical work structure — what other profession involves people passionate enough to get together on weekends to continue marathoning their job?

-- We Should Stop Calling Everything a 'Hackathon' - Inverse

"What I expected? That it would be fun. That we would do something, and that most likely it would stop after the weekend."

-- Dehli, Marthe 2016

It will be a Bank Holiday weekend like no other, with opportunities for communities across the nation to celebrate the new reign.

-- The Telegraph, May 3, 2023

Prior 'art'

Related projects

Event finished

Event started

Maybe if you organise it more regularly, a day will be enough for a hackathon-- I heard about in companies being a very nice vehicle to share knowledge and discuss..

04.05.2023 16:31 ~ joberkel


Edited (version 19)

04.05.2023 07:19 ~ loleg

First post View challenge

03.05.2023 20:30 ~ loleg


Contributed 1 year ago by loleg for Hack:Org:X v.1
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