How to save a hackathon project: enter the Finishathon - Technical.ly Philly

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Apr. 16, 2013 10:30 am

How to save a hackathon project: enter the Finishathon

Events dedicated to civic-minded technologists hacking together technical solutions to real world problems. Now the focus is make sure those tools are really used.

In February 2013, some 150 technologists and educators came together for TechCamp Education, organized by Technically Philly and the U.S. State Department to, to make technical solutions to real classroom problems.

Updated 4/16/13 @ 3:55pm: Included mention of Hacks for Democracy as another example of the 'Finishathon' effort, as noted in the comments by Chief Data Officer Mark Headd.

How do you save a hackathon project from drowning in a sea of dead apps, inactive websites and outdated data? It’s a common criticism about hackathons, the weekend-long marathon coding events where software programmers volunteer their time to build technical solutions to real world problems.

The events are heavy on creativity and good for launching efforts but short on execution and bad for maintaining them. After the weekend’s over, it’s hard to drum up the same kind of excitement — or time — to work on the projects.

Enter: The ‘Finishathon.’

Hackathon organizers, like the Hacks for Democracy last fall, the students behind PennApps and the team behind February’s TechCamp education hackathon, are now hosting these follow-up events where hackers can tie up loose ends and think about how to share their apps more broadly. It also helps convey the message that projects begun are best served when they are put in the hands of someone who can own and continue the effort.

And that’s one way to save a hackathon project from a watery death.

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