Last updated: 4th October, 2023
1. Key Information
Length: Full-day event (around 10 hours). Prep can range from ~20-40 hours.
Cost: Requires money for venue, food, marketing, and prizes.
Target Audience: Action-oriented proto EAs, fellowship graduates interested in testing fit/building skills, more engaged club members looking to build legible projects, and people looking for research/project collaborators.
2. Important considerations
- Can attract talented, action-oriented individuals!
- Can offer high-quality lectures on object-level content and interactions with mentors in the space and promote connections with peers interested in the content of the hackathon.
- Presents EA (or EA cause area) as a serious and professional movement with opportunities for ambitious individuals.
- Allows people to test their fit for object-level work in a fun, engaging way!
- Connects like-minded people and could result in further project collaboration in the future.
- Can produce impactful project ideas and outcomes.
Things to consider:
- Requires a significant time commitment from participants, potentially limiting participation.
- One-off events take way more planning per engagement usually – so be careful about which events you choose to run and when.
- Demands careful planning and execution, involving substantial effort and resources.
- Marketing can be challenging, and participants might not be directly inclined to join groups after a hackathon.
- Event expenses can add up, including venue, food, and prizes.
Venue and Logistics:
- Confirm venue reservation, ensuring it has required amenities (whiteboards, projector).
- Test audiovisual equipment (projector, microphone) to avoid technical glitches.
- Plan seating arrangements for lectures, brainstorming sessions, and presentations.
Supplies and Materials:
- Prepare event materials, including name tags, schedules, and handouts.
- Procure whiteboards, markers, and presentation materials for teams.
- Have extra supplies like pens, notepads, and extension cords on hand.
- Order swag like t-shirts or stickers for the event (optional).
Catering and Meals:
- Arrange for snacks, drinks, and meals throughout the day.
- Accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences of participants.
- Plan breaks and meal times to allow participants to recharge.
Communication and Promotion:
- Send out event invitations and reminders to registered participants.
- Create and share clear directions to the venue for easy navigation.
- Prepare and share pre-event study materials.
- Establish communication channels (e.g., Slack/Discord)
- Prepare marketing materials, such as flyers and social media posts.
Agenda and Timing:
- Develop a detailed event schedule, allocating time for each session.
- Set realistic time limits for each phase to ensure a smooth flow.
- Share the schedule with participants and mentors in advance.
Mentors and Judges:
- Confirm participation of mentors and judges, ensuring they are aligned with event goals.
- Provide mentors with background materials and guidelines for supporting teams.
- Prepare judging criteria and guidelines for consistent evaluations.
- Test-run presentations and lectures to ensure smooth delivery.
- Conduct a run-through of the event flow with organizers and volunteers.
- Address potential technical issues and have backup plans in place.
Networking and Engagement:
- Plan icebreaker activities to help participants connect and build rapport.
- Prepare discussion prompts and facilitation materials for ideation sessions.
- Designate volunteers to facilitate group activities and manage discussions.
Awards and Prizes:
- Procure prizes for winning teams or individuals, ensuring they align with event objectives.
- Create a clear process for announcing winners and distributing prizes.
- Have people collect swag (optional).
- Design a feedback survey to gather insights from participants and mentors.
- Collect contact information for further engagement and updates.
- Plan post-event communications, including thank-you notes and follow-up emails.
4. Event Structure
- Pre-prep for the event (Early Morning): Set up snacks and refreshments, make sure tech equipment is working, and prepare the venue with proper signage, etc.
- Registration and Welcome (Morning): Participants check in and receive event materials.
- Welcome speech and introduction to effective altruism.
- Introductory Lecture (Morning): Engaging lecture on effective altruism and AI alignment.
- Ideation and Team Formation (Morning): Individual brainstorming of project ideas.
- Team formation and idea sharing.
- Hacking Phase (Afternoon): Teams work on project development with mentorship.
- Presentation Preparation (Late Afternoon): Teams finalize presentations and practice (or finalize submissions depending on format).
- Project Presentations and Judging (Evening): Teams present projects to judges and peers.
- Winner Announcement and Networking (Evening): Winning teams are announced and awarded + a networking session to connect and share.
- Closing Remarks (Evening):
- Organizers express gratitude and encourage continued engagement.
5. Further resources
Here are some helpful links for running a hackathon!
How others have run hackathons and what they learned:
- EA London Hackathon Retrospective
- Chilean AIS Hackathon Retrospective
- Stockholm Student Hackathon: Lessons for next time
Other templates for running a hackathon:
Learn more about hackathons:
- Check out Hackathons - EA Forum to see what a hackathon is, posts of other people hosting hackathons, and info on different kinds of hackathons!
- A non-EA guide to running hackathons that is very comprehensive and defines hackathons as well as gives lots of tips and tricks: Hackathon Guide by Joshua Tauberer.