No More Hackathons, Please

2 November 2017
“  Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.  ”
John Lennon

There are a lot of articles you can find about good and bad sides of hackathons on the internet. But most of them, I think, miss one main point: it's just time wasting.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to tell you what you can do in your free time, it's obviously not my business. I just wanna share my experience about the hackathon I've been participated in 2-3 days ago and express my ideas about it. It's was actually first hackathon (and I hope the last one) I've ever been.

But first of all, I want to introduce an assumption: I consider a hackathon as opportunity to build something cool with some group of people in short period of time. If you consider hackathon as either an event where you just make fun or place where you have an intention to find friends / sponsors / advertising platform, we probably couldn't understand each other.

I think all these stuff are not suitable to such events like hackathons. If you want to have fun, you definitely should choose more comfortable place/event to do that. The globe is big, you can find cool programmers easily via github or other platform and build something cool together, it's not nessesary to make them friends of yours. Just have fun hacking things. Also I don't think that hackathons is good platform to promote yourself, mostly because of relatively small size of audience there. You can easily find other places with your customers, who is really interested in your product. It's much easier than trying to find them among random people with different backgrounds on hackathons. And yeah, most likely you will be simply banned by organizators. Of course, unless you pay them.

It's also bad idea to study something new on such events. If you really want to try new technologies, tricks and hacks, you should do all this stuff in quiet place where you can focus on details and dive into them.

There are a lot of cool things in our world, and it's really not easy to impress anybody with something, especially if you do it just for couple of days. I wanna impress people, I don't want to do something that people forget in 5 minutes after it's presentation. It's not nesesary to make up a cool and unique idea, but it's very important(at least to me) to create product with high quality. I am not genious and I can't do it for two days. Probably you can, I don't know (actually I don't care).

You might say "C'mon, you don't really need to build something like a product release, you just need to do a prototype of your future application". Yes, you right, but in most cases two-days prototypes are shitty, in most cases they make us facepalm on the final presentation of a hackathon. That happened to me and my team. I can't say that we built something horrible, but I also can't say that I was happy of what we'd done.

Even if an idea is cool and a presenter is handsome, it doesn't matter at all. Idea worths nothing, less than nothing. It's all about how it looks and feels in materialized world. The first impression is very important, because it motivates developers to improve their prototype and make people to be interseted in the future of the final product.

There is another important factor against idea of hackathons. In most cases, you are not able to write good and maintainable code for two days. It means that you would probably rewrite all the code from the scratch for further development after hackathon. It's really sad when you're forced to write shitty code only because you must show something in short period of time on a presentation to people who really don't care about your product, ideas, ambitions and dreams.

Nothing to say about bad conditions of hackathons: loud music, noise, annoying people who constantly ask you about your project, garbage and sweaty guys around. I just can't imagine that it's possible to work properly and make something with high quality in such atmosphere.

The most demotivating factor of hackathons is, of course, the final presentation of "prototypes". Most of them are simply stupid and with bad quality. Even if some of them are more or less good, your mind creates unintendedly suspicions that it(or part of it) was done already before the hackathon. In most cases, I am sure, it's true. It makes whole competition meaningless.

The main point of this post is that you don't need hackathons. If you have ideas, and you believe in them, just realize and make them properly, respect yourself. Don't wait for next hackathon in your town where you can ruin your ideas.

Reddit Comments / HN Comments