Exploring a New Way of Planning and Executing Hackathons


I started tracking on Hackathons full time in 2011, as part of my API Evangelism toolbox. In 2012 I’ve watched Hackathons explode and become a popular way for API owners to engage and build a relationship with developers. (if done right)

As I do with other trending areas, I launched as its own site, hackweekends.com. I’ve gotten a lot of demand from hackathon organizers and sponsors to add events and other news and information. To support this I recently launched Hack Weekends on Github, so anyone can edit pages, write blog posts and add events to the calendar. A sort of crowd sourced hackathon hub.

To further support the hackathon community I also wanted to provide an open source hackathon guide, helping anyone understand how they can throw their own hackathon. There were already two great hackathon guides out there which are Open Data Hackathon How to Guide and The Hack Day Manifesto---both licensed openly. So I took this excellent material and merged with my own material to create a Hack Weekends Guide.

The Hack Weekends guide provides a very detail guide to throwing a hackathon, and I also included a website template that runs on Github Pages using Jekyll. My goal is to make it a plug-n-play guide with all the tools and resources you need to be successful in your communities hackathon

Next I need to actually prove my “open source” approach to planning, designing and marketing hackathons. I’m planning several hackathons to make sure the process works. The first hackathon I am planning is for OC Hackerz in Orange County, California. OC Hackerz is a big supporter of developers, and is in sync with my vision of what the hackathon space should look like, so they are a great partner to plan two initial hackathons:

The planning of the OC Hackerz Hackathon is meant to be an exploratory deployment of the Hack Weekends Guide, intended to make hackathon planning an open and collaborative process between organizers, sponsors and the local stakeholders.

Hack Weekends is all a work in progress. So I’m lookiking for feedback. If you’d like to get involved in hackathons or use the Hack Weekends process yourself, feel free to reach out. The platform already has other supports such Singly, AT&T and Hacker League. My vision is to have everyone in the community contributing.