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({also codefest, datathon, hack day, hackfest)

Hackathon definition

A hackathon is a time-limited event where individuals or groups compete to produce software or hardware based on the event’s criteria. Hackathons typically run for 24 hours, with 36 and 48-hour long hackathons being less common. Hackathons are primarily coding events, but teams often include graphic designers, project managers, and others to help with development.

The term “hackathon” is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon.” Despite the criminal associations of the word “hacker,” hackathons typically promote only ethical coding and seek solutions to social problems.

Real hackathon examples

  • Hack It Better: A free-to-enter virtual hackathon that challenged high school students to build projects for social causes in 24 hours. In 2020, the Hack It Better hackathon was sponsored by NordVPN and received 175 entries.
  • Openhack: A hackathon that focuses on open-source development for technology that can improve local or global conditions. Openhack’s slogan is “coding for humanity.” Since 2015, Openhack has organized 12 independent hackathons with over 1,200 participants in total. Openhack events typically last 48 hours and are open to anyone free of charge.

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