QA: Machine Learning & Data Science Hackathons

Chips, donuts — that’s all.

Let’s give them that rubbish food»Well-organized hackathons provide tree food boxes types, namely regular, vegetarian and kosher meals.

Besides, they put a fridge with yogurt and cereal for those wishing to eat a bit during a day.

Tea, coffee, and water are the standard set provided.

One of the best examples for me became Hack Moscow 2, which provided the participants with borsch and meatballs with purees in 1C office’ dining room (Russian soul food).

Does the hackathon organization level depend on organizers’ professional sphere (for example, whether it’s true the best hackathons are provided by consultants)?The best hackathons were organized by those, who either had previously organized them or had previously participated in.

Perhaps, this is the only factor which the event quality depends on.

How to realize it’s time to start participating in hackathons?The best time to visit the hackathon was a year ago.

The second best time is right now.

So, start participating right now.

Don’t be afraid: make mistakes and learn all the time.

Even the Neural Network, the greatest human invention after the wheel and gradient boosting over trees, is not able to distinguish a cat from a dog in the first epoch of training.

The best time to visit the hackathon was a year ago.

The second best time is right now.

Which indicators confirm the event doesn’t worth participation?● A clear further task description (relevant for product hackathons).

It is better to stay at home if during registration you will be provided with a clear task.

As for me, I couldn’t mention any good hackathon which provided specification before its start.

For example, good hackathons ask to do something related to audio conversations analysis while bad one asks to develop an app, able to divide the conversation into two separate audio tracks for each person.

● Small prize pool.

Be sure to avoid wasting time if being asked to create a «Tinder for an online store with AI» and a first-place award provided is just 500 euros while minimum team members amount is 5 people (yes, this is an actual hackathon which took place in Munich last year).

● Absence of data (relevant for data science hackathons).

Organizers usually provide basic event data and sometimes dataset sample as well.

If they didn’t provide that —ask about it before the event.

● New event organizers.

Be sure to google hackathon organizers before the event.

There is a high probability that something will go wrong if they organize such event type for the first time.

But if the organizer and jury members have already conducted hackathons or have actively participated in the past, it is a good sign.

During one hackathon I was told: «You provided the best score solution, but for us, teamwork is important.

Unfortunately, you worked alone.

You could win if participated together with some student or a girl, for example…».

Have you ever met such injustice?.How did you cope?Yes, I met more than once.

I treat everything that happens as a stoic: I did everything in my power.

If it didn’t work out — so let it be.

Why are you engaged in hackathons?Everything is just out of boredom.


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