Week 1 of Fall 2019 -- Ask any questions thread + This week in hackathons

Hello friends! This is the place for you to ask any question you want, and have it be answered by our little community here. We’re going to be creating a weekly post like this for the rest of the Fall season. Your questions can be about travel tips, catering, shipping, swag, hackathon project ideas – anything at all, really. If you’ve had a question but are unsure if it deserves its own thread, now’s the time to ask!

:trumpet: This Week in Hackathons! :trumpet: (9/2/2019)

Penn Apps is this weekend! @jamie.liao and @Mackenzie will be there from our side, and we’re confident @jules and the Penn Apps team will put on an awesome hackathon. Penn Apps is one of the biggest and oldest hackathons – it’s really something if you’ve never been!

Citizen Hacks is also happening just across the pond from Penn Apps in Toronto! @PaigeL will be holding down the MLH fort at this one. They’re focused on internet privacy issues, and are having a keynote by a super distinguished professor in the field. Really excited to see the projects that come out of the event!

And about 2,000 miles south of those events, Hackathon de Futuras Tecnologías is happening in Coahuila, Mexico! @pablotrinidad will be there, making sure that 3 countries in North America have a killer weekend for hackathons.

That’s all for the update this week – so now the ball’s in your court! Ask any questions your heart desires.


What are some common logistical pitfalls of hackathons that grow from a couple hundred attendees to over 500?


How many prizes should a hackathon have if there will be different prizes per platform/sponsor? I guess, what should be an upper bound for the number of available prizes?

1 Like

Not considering the IT side of things. If you’re going to have more attendees (and likely a larger venue) consider:

  • Do you have strong/reliable enough WiFi for 500+ people?
  • What is your plan of action if the WiFi goes down?
  • Are there enough outlets & power cables?
  • If you’re in an open space like a gymnasium or ballroom, how are you safely organizing those cables?

I don’t have a specific formula, but as an example of what not to do: I attended an event that had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place overall + 11 categorical prizes + 6 sponsor prizes. Most teams walked away with something, but the closing ceremony was painfully long. I feel like 3 or 4 categorical prizes would have made more sense here (i.e. best hardware hack, best UI, best pitch). Categorical prizes can be fun and reward great projects that don’t necessarily qualify as “best” overall, but this is often where number of prizes can go overboard. Keep in mind that if your hackathon is an MLH Member Event, we will likely be awarding a few prizes from our partners too.


Hi There !
I wanna host a local hack day learn here in Algeria, in parallel with the workshops I want to organize a panel conference , any suggestions for the topic ?

Good question! I’d say have a panel on whatever appeals to your community – for a quick suggestion, panels that have alumni from your university answering questions about their work experience have gone well at other hack clubs.

What are some things you’d expect your attendees to be passionate about?