What is a hackathon?
What is a hackathon? stories

kernCommunity member
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I'm Alex, one of the founders of CalHacks.

You can find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KernC...

What is a hackathon?

A beginner's guide

Hackathons are where your crazy idea becomes reality.

Build anything. Software, hardware, websites, apps, anything. Participants must start their project with a blank slate. Hackathons last anywhere from 6-24 hours or longer.

Hackathons provide 3 fundamental resources:

1) Space: Long tables for teams to work together 2) Wifi: To browse online help resources or access a public web API. 3) Food: Free meals & snacks to make it possible to hack around the clock

Hackathons usually involve:

Registration/Opening ceremony, team-formation and brainstorming, hacking, snacking, walking to see what others are building, work with mentors, frantically finish, present to judges

Who attends hackathons?

Hackathon goers typically have programming experience, though many teams incorporate engineers and designers of all types. Some hackers are first-timers, others are experienced in the art.

Why do people attend hackathons?

Though the competition allures some participants, winning is never the ultimate objective. Hackers maintain that creation and learning are goals unto themselves.

Do all teams come in with an idea?

No. While some attendees come with their team and concept fully-formed, most play it by ear.

What happens to the hacks after the event?

The hacks may live on as side projects, become open source software, or be turned into a startup. Nevertheless, many hacks are never touched again after the hackathon is over—but that’s okay!

Are hackathons fun?

Hackathons are grueling trials of endurance and problem solving. However, as attendees will agree, hackathons are the most fun “work” you’ll ever have. Nearly every hackathon is free!

Why "Hack"?

“To Hack” is “To Create” “Hack” captures the ethos of rapid creation, creativity, & learning. Hackathons have entered the public spectacle. Large hackathons happen @ schools like UPenn, UMich etc

Hackers voluntarily spend their free time hacking

Hackathons offer a more interactive experience that engages students. Even the most seasoned hackers attend hackathons to acquire new skills. Maybe a classroom isn’t the best place to learn.

Let's hack.

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