A hackathon is a great opportunity to meet people from your local community, talk about tech and learn cool stuff. The basic idea is to work on a project, have fun, and build cool (and sometimes useless) stuff. But if you want to be a winner, you don’t have time for all that BS.

You’re a winner and you should act like it.
So if you want to ace every hackathon you go to, follow these easy steps.

1 – Gunboat diplomacy


Is the hackathon destined for young college students so they can learn a new API or platform? Are the participants mainly discovering the technology and having fun?
This is a perfect opportunity to bring your A-Team. Get people who are experienced in the subject, people who have developed and deployed several applications like this before. If you’re a school club, have a few teachers with you in the group. Bigger-gun strategy always wins.

2 – Why code now when you can code at home


If you know that you’re developing for a specific platform or using a specific API prepare everything at home and copy paste it later at the hackathon. Everyone knows that reheated meals are the best! Plus who goes to a hackathon to learn and have fun anyway?

3 – Know the jury

Bro gif

When you’re part of a small community it is always good to know people that might be in hackathon juries. Heck, they can be even your own teachers from your school.
It is no cheating, it is called networking. Plus it is not your fault if they already like you.

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4 – Media is more important than code

Your application is basically hot air and a powerpoint presentation?

It doesn’t matter, talk to the media as if it is the next Facebook. Tell journalists and bloggers that it is going to disrupt the industry and have a huge social impact..

This works better for applications that are more “cause-oriented“.

5 – Take the joy out of it


Who has time for fun anyway? Make the environment for the local community as toxic as possible. Don’t hesitate to make pointless revelries over futile technicalities. Nothing is more important than making your name shine.

6 – Complain about the local startup environment

Don’t forget to tell people that if you were at San Francisco you would have been the next Elon Musk but no one is giving you a chance here. It is never your fault that the community is broken. Talk always about how you’re going to leave this dump as soon as you can.

This is an attempt (a poor one) at satire. I have been part of different coder/hacker/maker communities over the past 5 years. I have attended and taken part of a dozen hackathons, and this post is an attempt to expose some of that toxic environment that is dominant in these kind of events.

However, I have taken part of some great hackathons where I have made lasting friendships and where I have learned a lot, so don’t let egocentric-achievement-oriented individuals spoil your experience, and just go there and have fun.