Leaving Hack the North
Hi, this is Victor Vucicevich (or Vic Vu), one of 12 co-founders of Hack the North. I speak aside from Hack the North. The views of Hack the North are not reflected in the contents of this article.
In 2013, we had the idea that Waterloo needed a hackathon…
And I promised I would never make a touchy feely Medium post about it, because nobody cares.
So, moving on.
I’m sure most of you know of the wonderful controversies around Hack the North and MLH right now. If you don’t, give this a read. One individual was escorted out of Hack the North for saying he was building a bomb for his hack. The other was removed as well for his comment and his association with the first individual. You should read all about it here in the official Hack the North Response.
Now that we’re all caught up I’d like to point out this little post here:
This is what I posted after I had heard what happened (sans edit).
What lead up to me posting that:
I caught wind that people were kicked out of the event for Facebook comments. This infuriated me. So much so that I sat down with Swift and just yelled at him. I was mean. Very. And not too cooperative with his calm demeanor. What I gathered from Swift, is that someone complained, and as per the MLH code of conduct, action had to be taken. He said some organizers were there, namely the Head of Security and the Head of Logistics. However, at Hack the North we have a wonderful hierarchy in which we have three co-directors, and everything goes through them. I was in shock that these decisions were made without those people present.
But this was all I knew. I knew that a University staff member was present. I knew that a small effort was put into actually contacting the co-directors. And I knew that MLH had a code of conduct that Swift was upholding.
And so during my foolish rage, and when I was done shouting mean things at Mr. Swift, the last thing I said is that Hack the North is going to be a laughing stock, and I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen. In my mind, MLH was the sole driver of all of this. And who was going to argue with my tornado of anger at that time?
I told a director we needed to say something, and he said wait until we know everything.
Well? I didn’t wait. By this point, Hackathon Hackers had caught wind of the whole ordeal, and I myself posted on Facebook that MLH was solely responsible. I posted it on reddit.
But again, this is all I knew at the time.
Then the information finally began to come out; MLH wasn’t the only one, we had organizers with decision making authority present, we had security and school administration involved, the whole lot.
But it was too late, for the internet hate machine had already sunk its teeth into the sides of Mike Swift and Major League Hackers.
I need to apologize. To Mike Swift, to MLH, and to Hack the North.
I really do. While the word was already out that MLH had done this, I perpetuated it.
I responded on the internet as fast as possible with a single mindset. I didn’t have all the facts (but I was convinced I did).
4chan got hold of the situation and the hatred just spread even further.
MLH is receiving hate messages. One star reviews on their page. Mike Swift personally attacked out there. Hell, even I was hopping on this train of hatred.
And while I know I’m not the sole person responsible, I feel like I am.
And I apologize.
I sincerely do.
And I am so unbelievably impressed by how calm Mike Swift has been through this entire ordeal. Even while I sat in front of him and just yelled and called names, he sat there and calmly said he stands by the position.
Absolutely not. I’m admitting that I was wrong.
I was wrong, I acted foolishly, I caused this whole process to be far more difficult for everyone, and I really shouldn’t have until I had all the facts.
Once all the facts were all together, I just looked like an idiot.
There is an extremely important difference between backpedalling and admitting you are wrong.
Accusations of Hack the North backpedalling are simply incorrect, because the only person making unofficial statements was me. Hack the North gathered facts, accounts, and timelines, and put it all together before making a statement. There was no backpedalling because Hack the North did not want to move anywhere until everything was straightened out.
And I stress that this is not something anyone is making me do. This whole article is of my own accord. I felt it the right thing to do. I caused a lot of the controversy, and I feel responsible for the hatred being thrown around.
(That said, I still personally disagree with the outcome, but that will come later.)
What is Not Okay
Now that we have gotten out of the way that Hack the North as an organization does not think MLH was in the wrong, I’m not sure why there continues to be so much hatred towards it. Everyone wants to be a hero, but MLH followed their policy, we followed ours. That simple.
MLH has done nothing but try to help hackathons and hackathon culture move forward. Yet there is just so much hatred out there right now. Its scary to see. There is an eerie feeling of reddit during the Boston Bombings right now.
Giving MLH a one star review over a policy issue is a bit odd, don’t you think? They helped at the event endlessly, provided everything they said they would for us, and had one negative interaction with people who aren’t reviewing the page.
I’d say 4 stars if you don’t like the policy. I’m not one to speak to whether or not facebook reviews are impactful, but this is the livelihood of people. People looking up MLH will be greeted by this. Again, I didn’t agree with the decision at all, yet if I were to rate it I’d just take off one star for that. Unless I was the ones kicked out of course.
Hatred towards Mike Swift himself is also unwarranted. The things I have read, (and even the things I said to him) are just absolutely wrong. This shouldn’t need to be said. But I guess it does.
Everyone relax. Just relax.
The Conspiracy Theories
Due to my initial, uninformed statements, when Hack the North released an official statement with all of the facts, it sparked an entirely new response.
The hate for MLH persisted, which is completely unwarranted, especially given the information.
But then, some new things came out, and its been an amusing ride for me.
I’m not exactly sure what this poster is talking about because after all the facts were corroborated, nobody (that I am aware of, again theres 42 of us) has a distaste for MLH. This post is just absolutely hilarious. Speculative hatred. Never quite experienced something like this before. Someone wanting to experience disgust through me.
Edit: It turns out, the above commenter is correct about the expressions, but not the right cause. Our person on stage was reading off the 2014 sponsors at the time, not the 2015 sponsors.
I’ve tried to make it pretty clear that I was uninformed. The Hack the North organizational staff there had the permission to carry on with what they were doing (unbeknownst to me). So even if the co-directors weren’t there, they had been previously discussed being a proxy (specifically our Head of Security). This is all new to me, because despite being a co-founder, I’m not a director. Just an organizer filling in when I can.
I had to share this. Blue seems to think that this is legitimately some elaborate coverup. And it has six likes. Where did this information even come from! My goodness, this is unbelievably comical. I’m just imagining a situation in which someone is sitting in front of a board of string and pins saying ‘this goes all the way to the top!’
But what really brings it all home is Red just immediately accepting it as truth. And this is the problem with the community right now. Anyone anywhere can say something and suddenly the tide changes. Unfortunately for the theorists however, the things posted by MLH and Hack the North are what the truth is. And as someone who spoke out angrily due to lack of facts, I don’t suggest doing that.
What are they trying to hide?? Mostly ~40 minutes of black screens, noise, and nothing happening at all. And of course theres the wonderful ‘fuck it ship it’ sticker proudly displayed during the entire ceremony which we have to decide whether or not we want to keep. I mean, we do have a large minor outreach especially after two thirteen year olds were hacking at the event.
I actually can’t even comprehend what this individual is imagining we are trying to hide. There were over 1000 people watching the entire thing — what did they miss? We’ll find out soon enough.
The video will be released shortly.
I moved my way through this day by just reading all of this happening on the internet. The theories, the deceit. I’m absolutely clueless as to what people are looking for.
Leaving Hack the North
At the end of the day, I don’t agree with the decision made to remove these individuals. I am absolutely swimming in the irony that they were removed.
We all have this thought that if you were in the position of the administration of Ahmed’s school, things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. And I know those who are outraged as I am all have the same thought: ‘are you serious?’
We had a chance to just stick it to the man, not make the same mistakes made literally the week before, and just move on. Who would have looked twice had we just told the guy ‘hey don’t say you’re making a bomb’.
Trust me, I know.
But in the moment, when people say someone is claiming to be building a bomb, you have to react some way. And honestly, in retrospect, people did react reasonably. People who should be making these decisions (security, police), did, and they suggested that removal was the best bet.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not agree with the final decision at all. The public outcry that occurred was predictable. The statements were obviously in jest.
We all learn along the way.
I am officially done with hackathons. Its been fun. Its been crazy. I am leaving on good terms with everyone, and I love you all.
Hack the North became something I really didn’t expect. It’s huge, and its only just hitting me now. Founders, CEOs, every company I’ve dreamt of working at, news articles, controversy, and conspiracy theories.
I’m so proud of where this has gone. I’m impressed. I’m happy.
Who knows where everyone will be, or what we will all accomplish.