Hackathon Ratings: UofT Hacks IV

Nowadays hackathons can be grand adventures with sponsors, funding, and food. The swag and prizes to be won allures the hackers and motivates some to go. I want to start writing this as a recollection of my past hackathon experiences solely based on not what I created, but the hackathon atmosphere and organization.

It is really difficult to base hackathons on non-singular experiences and not being affected by positivity and negativity that isn’t respective of the entire event. That being said, I really do want to see what my afterthoughts of each event are, and how they stack up to how I expected each hackathon to be.

UofT Hacks IV was Jan 20–22, and I was disappointed. After being waitlisted in 2015, I was excited to see what Canada’s largest university had to offer. That being said, it did not live up to the expectations.

Background:

UofT Hacks IV is a hackathon run by the University of Toronto Saint George campus also known as “Smart City”. The university is known for its exceptionally talented youth and crippling depression from marks.

The hackathon was held at the Bahen centre and it is a nice building, a bit strapped for space and electrical plugs, but it is not too cramped. (*mhacks 8) It had 8 floors (where mainly the first 4 were primarily used).

Opening Ceremonies: 0/10

A complete disaster. It started 40 minutes late. The periscope is shown on Twitter in three different rooms and it freezes half-way through. The audio is not audible and the screen is filmed from the 20th row, making sure you see every head in every row below it. In the room everyone left and went on to hack. That was not the best way to start a hackathon.

Infosessions: 6/10

The ones I went to were pretty standard and decent from the sponsors. The sponsors infosessions are pretty the norm. The node.js tutorial was informative to newer hackers, but was a little ambitious with the time given.

500 people planned, 92 tables for presentations, about 580 on the main slack. The numbers aren’t necessarily representative of the event, but some nice figures for size.

Venue: 8/10

Pretty spacious space, and had power plugs available. The problem was sitting space. I roamed around and usually found a quiet enough space. It is a nice place.

Food and Snacks: 2/10 (nonexistent)

Jokes aside the food situation and snack situation was a mess. The volunteers told people to get food, and they would draw a doodle on your UofT Hacks lanyard. I missed breakfast one day because it started at 7am. WHO WAKES UP FOR THEN? (mhacks had breakfast at a manageable 8am or something) The next day had breakfast at 6am. I would eat then if I didn’t stay up to 4am the previous day. The food was usually decent, but waaaay too small. Then people trying to hoard food. Hack the North has lanyards to scan, Mhacks had an app, UofT hacks uses a lanyard? It is a bit harsh to compare, but if they are a premier MLH hackathon, I wanna say they should at least have a system.

Other Events:

Microsoft’s booth was legit with the Hololens and the MLH cup stacking was good. That being said all that stuff was at Hack the Valley, and other hackathons. I enjoyed this stuff comparatively because the other stuff was…bad?

In Total:

4/10 (Not aggregate score of components)

It felt bad at the beginning. The opening ceremonies opened up a terrible start. (They deleted the original Periscope off of Twitter, or I would link it) Bahen is by no means a bad venue. If anything if you compare to mhacks 8 Masonic Temple…yeah. The organization was the achilles heel of the event with large food lines, soylent gone in 5 minutes, and an array of other problems that plagued the event. I hear UofT, I expect a shining star in examples for other hackathons, and I was severely disappointed.

Put this on top of the fact that it is hard to get into UofT hacks. I was rejected last year, and I was hyped for this year. I want an amazing experience, swag, coding, food, people, sponsors. I’ve been to small and large hackathons that have delivered on that and some that didn’t unfortunately.

I liked the venue and when you could get food, it wasn’t entirely the worst food in the world. But that can’t save a hackathon.

These are just my thoughts right? I’m going to a ton more hackathons this term, so follow if you want for more of this.

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