Remember that hackathons are like marathons. Some people go to compete but most people take part to better themselves and have fun. Whatever the reason is you're at a hackathon, make sure you're upholding the hacker spirit by collaborating with other teams, helping beginners, and having fun.
The rules of the competition
- There is no maximum or minimum team size. As a participant, you should make sure to check how many prizes are available per team. There is usually a limited number of prizes for each challenge. So if you form a large team and win a challenge, there might not be enough prizes for everyone on your team.
- Teams should be made up exclusively of students (or recent graduates within one year of having graduated) who are not organizers, volunteers, judges, sponsors, or in any other privileged position at the event.
- Teams can gain advice and support from organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and others.
- All work on a project should be done at the hackathon.
- Teams can use an idea they had before the event.
- Teams can work on ideas that have already been done. Hacks do not have to be “innovative”. If somebody wants to work on a common idea they should be allowed to do so and should be judged on the quality of their hack. These days it’s hard to find something that’s fully original and teams might not know an idea has been done before anyway.
- Teams can work on an idea that they have worked on before (as long as they do not re-use code or other project materials).
- Teams can use libraries, frameworks, or open-source code in their projects. Working on a project before the event and open-sourcing it for the sole purpose of using the code during the event is against the spirit of the rules and is not allowed.
- Adding new features to existing projects is allowed. Judges will only consider new functionality introduced or new features added during the hackathon in determining the winners.
- Teams must stop hacking once the time is up. However, teams are allowed to debug and make small fixes to their programs after time is up. e.g. If during demoing your hack you find a bug that breaks your application and the fix is only a few lines of code, it's okay to fix that. Making large changes or adding new features is not allowed.
- Projects that violate the Code of Conduct are not allowed.
- Teams can be disqualified from the competition at the organizers' discretion. Reasons might include but are not limited to breaking the Competition Rules, breaking the Code of Conduct, or other unsporting behaviour.
Teams will be judged on these four criteria. Judges will weigh the criteria equally. During judging, participants should try to describe what they did for each criterion in their project.
- Technology: How technically impressive was the hack? Was the technical problem the team tackled difficult? Did it use a particularly clever technique or did it use many different components? Did the technology involved make you go "Wow"?
- Design: Did the team put thought into the user experience? How well designed is the interface? For a website, this might be about how beautiful the CSS or graphics are. For a hardware project, it might be more about how good the human-computer interaction is (e.g. is it easy to use or does it use a cool interface?).
- Completion: Does the hack work? Did the team achieve everything they wanted?
- Learning: Did the team stretch themselves? Did they try to learn something new? What kind of projects have they worked on before? If a team which always does virtual reality projects decides to switch up and try doing a mobile app instead, that exploration should be rewarded.
These criteria will guide judges but ultimately judges are free to make decisions based on their gut feeling of which projects are the most impressive and most deserving.
It's important to note that these judging criteria do not include:
- How good your code is. It doesn't matter if your code is messy, or not well commented, or uses inefficient algorithms. Hacking is about playing around, making mistakes, and learning new things. If your code isn't production-ready, we're not going to mark you down.
- How well you pitch. Hacking is about building and learning, not about selling.
- How good the idea is. Again, hackathons aren't about coming up with innovative ideas. It's about building and learning.
- How well the project solves a problem. You can build something totally useless and as long as you're learning and having fun, that's a good hack! Sometimes a pointless project is one of the best hacks!
So don't worry about coming up with the next big idea or building the next Facebook. You'll have plenty of time for that outside the hackathon. just focus on learning, having fun, and making new friends. At the end of the day the skills you learn and the friends you make might lead to the next big thing—but you don't have to do that to win a hackathon.
Code of Conduct
TL;DR. Be respectful. Harassment and abuse are never tolerated. If you are in a situation that makes you uncomfortable at an MLH Member Event, if the event itself is creating an unsafe or inappropriate environment, or if interacting with an MLH representative or event organizer makes you uncomfortable, please report it using the procedures included in this document.
Major League Hacking (MLH) stands for inclusivity. We believe that every single person has the right to hack in a safe and welcoming environment.
Harassment includes but is not limited to offensive verbal or written comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, social class, economic status, veteran status, sexual images, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. If what you’re doing is making someone feel uncomfortable, that counts as harassment and is enough reason to stop doing it.
Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
Sponsors, judges, mentors, volunteers, organizers, MLH staff, and anyone else at the event are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, attendees should not use sexualised images, activities, or other material both in their hacks and during the event. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualised clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualised environment.
If a participant engages in harassing behavior, MLH may take any action it deems appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the event with no eligibility for reimbursement or refund of any type.
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact MLH using the reporting procedures defined below.
MLH representatives will be happy to help participants contact campus security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the event. We value your attendance.
We expect participants to follow these rules at all hackathon venues, online interactions in relation to the event, hackathon-related social events, and on hackathon supplied transportation.
If you feel uncomfortable or think there may be a potential violation of the code of conduct, please report it immediately using one of the following methods. All reporters have the right to remain anonymous.
By sending information to the general reporting line, your report will go to any or all of the MLH representatives listed below.
North America General Reporting - +14092026060, firstname.lastname@example.org
Europe General Reporting - +448008085675, email@example.com
Asia-Pacific General Reporting - +918000402492, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are uncomfortable reporting your situation to one or more of these people or need to contact any of them directly in case of emergency, direct contact details are listed below.
- Jamie Liao-+1 (929)263-2137, email@example.com
- Mary Siebert - +1 (516) 362-1835, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ryan Swift - +1 (347) 868-6698, email@example.com
- Nick Quinlan - +1 (510) 859-8578, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jon Gottfried - +1 (212) 851-6746, email@example.com
- Swift - +1 (347) 220-8667, firstname.lastname@example.org
MLH reserves the right to revise, make exceptions to, or otherwise amend these policies in whole or in part. If you have any questions regarding these policies, please contact MLH by e-mail at email@example.com.
The competition is just a part of the hackathon. To make the most out of the event, try something new, teach other people, and make new friends!