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Hackathon etiquette: Do's and don'ts for participants
Participant Resources

Hackathon etiquette: Do's and don'ts for participants

Learn about hackathon best practices and protocols that will set you up for success.

Hackathons are the ultimate playground for coding enthusiasts and creative minds. It's where passionate developers, designers, and innovators come together to collaborate, create mind-blowing projects, and push the boundaries of what's possible with technology. But let's be real, these coding sprints can be a whirlwind of excitement, caffeine-fueled all-nighters, and possibly moments of sheer panic when that one bug just won't budge.

To make the most out of this thrilling roller coaster ride, it's crucial to follow some unwritten rules and best practices. Think of this post as a friendly guide from the hackathon experts—covering all the dos and don'ts that'll ensure you have a rewarding experience from registration to project submission. 

The Do’s

Let's kick things off with the do's—your essential guide to hackathon success. These tried-and-true tips will help you navigate the event like a pro and maximize your learning, networking, and chances of creating something truly incredible.

Do your research

Before diving into the hackathon, take the time to understand the main requirements, theme, rules, and expectations. Read carefully through the hackathon description to familiarize yourself with the technology stack, APIs, or frameworks that may be required or recommended. This preparation will help you hit the ground running and make informed decisions throughout the event.

Plan ahead

While hackathons are all about agile thinking and adapting to challenges, having a rough plan or strategy is beneficial. In fact, it’s the #1 piece of advice hackathon winners give to other hackathon participants. Outline your project idea, potential features, and a tentative timeline. This initial roadmap will help you stay focused and make the most of the limited time available.

Stay organized

Hackathons can be fast-paced, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. Stay on top of your game by keeping track of deadlines, milestones, and tasks. Utilize Devpost's features to your advantage—such as regularly checking the hackathon page for important updates and announcements from organizers. Don't forget to join and stay active in the event's Discord channel, where you can connect with fellow participants and get real-time information. By staying organized and engaged with the Devpost platform, you'll be able to prioritize effectively and ensure you don't miss any crucial steps or opportunities throughout the hackathon.

Seek feedback

Don't hesitate to seek feedback from mentors, organizers, or fellow participants. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your project. Be open to suggestions and embrace the collaborative nature of hackathons. Leverage the resources provided by the hackathon organizers, and check the hackathon site office hours or other support channels to seek feedback.

Network

Hackathons are not just about coding; they're also about building connections and learning from others. Engage with other participants, organizers, and mentors. Share your ideas, ask questions, and learn from their experiences. These connections can lead to valuable insights and potential future opportunities.

Connect and collaborate with your peers in the Devpost community.
Join our Discord server

Submit early

While the thrill of last-minute submissions can be tempting, at Devpost, we always recommend submitting your project early. It allows you to avoid potential technical issues, get baseline eligibility checks, and could even make you eligible for early submission prizes. For more details on the benefits of early submission check out our recent blog post, 6 reasons to submit your hackathon project early.

Make your submission stand out

No one will know your project rocks if you don't tell them! Craft a compelling demo video or presentation that showcases your project's features, problem-solving approach, and potential impact. A well-executed submission can make a lasting impression on judges and sponsors. 

Pro tip: Get advice from fellow hackathon winners on how to build a winning hackathon demo video.

Have fun

Above all, remember to enjoy the experience! Hackathons are a great opportunity to learn, experiment, and have fun with like-minded individuals. Embrace the challenges, celebrate your victories, and savor the moments of collaboration and creativity.

The Don'ts

Now that we've covered what to do, let's talk about what not to do. These common missteps can trip up even seasoned hackers. Keep these don'ts in mind to steer clear of unnecessary stress and make the most of your hackathon experience.

Don’t overcommit

While ambition is admirable, avoid taking on too many tasks or features that you can't realistically accomplish within the given time frame. Focus on quality over quantity, and prioritize the core functionality of your project.

Don’t panic

Inevitably, things may not go exactly as planned during a hackathon. It’s OK—stay calm and adapt. Problem-solving is a key skill in these events, and overcoming challenges is part of the experience. Embrace the opportunity to think critically and find creative solutions. You’ve got this!

Don’t ignore documentation

Overlooking the resources provided is a big mistake! Hackathon organizers put together the documentation to help you succeed in the hackathon. Familiarize yourself with the documentation and take advantage of the resources provided. 

On Devpost, you can find the hackathon description, requirements, and judging criteria in the overview section. Don't forget to check out the Resources section as that's where hackathon organizers will also include all kinds of helpful tools such as API documentation and datasets, tutorials, and inspiration that can give you a head start on your project. Remember, the organizers want you to succeed, so make the most of everything they've prepared for you!

Don’t miss opportunities

Take advantage of the workshops, networking sessions, and other opportunities offered during the hackathon. These events can provide valuable insights, resources, and connections that can enhance your project and overall experience.

Build your next great hackathon project

By following these dos and don'ts, you'll be well-prepared to make the most of the hackathon journey. Remember, it's not just about the final product or winning prizes; it's about embracing the thrill of collaboration, learning from your peers, and pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible. 

Feeling inspired to build something amazing? Check out our hackathons happening now!