Hacking and Making at Time-Bounded Events: Current Trends and Next Steps in Research and Event Design.

A CSCW 2017 workshop for researchers studying Hackathons, experienced event organizers, and participants interested in running their own events.

Find out more


Time-bounded collaborative events in which teams work together under intense time pressure are becoming increasingly popular. In 2015, collegiate hackathons alone attracted over 54,000 participants across 150 events. While "hackathons", that is, competitive overnight coding events, are one of the more prevalent examples of this phenomenon, there are many more distinct event design variations for different audiences and with divergent aims:

  • "sprints" bring together existing communities to advance planned work,
  • "codefests" bring together related communities to encourage interoperability,
  • "hack-days" and "hack-weeks" teach hacking and making skills to diverse audiences without software backgrounds, like artists and scientists,
  • "edit-a-thons" support intensive co-generation of encyclopedia content, and so on.

Taken together, these events offer new opportunities and challenges for cooperative work by affording explicit, predictable, time-bounded spaces for interdependent work and access to new audiences of collaborators.

This one-day workshop will bring together:

  • researchers interested in the phenomenon,
  • experienced event organizers, and
  • participants interested in running their own events.

The workshop aims to facilitate consolidating existing research, sharing practical experiences, and understanding what benefits different event variations may offer, how they may be applied in other contexts, and how insights from studying these events may contribute to CSCW knowledge.

Workshop Themes


Topics of interest for the workshop include, but are not limited to:

  • Design variations: What are the different variations in event design? What conditions support event success, participant satisfaction, team dynamics (such as team formation, idea generation, conflict) and inclusivity along multiple dimensions of diversity?
  • Short-term and long-term outcomes: How do event goals vary across different contexts and designs? How do we measure success in achieving these goals? How do we support more long-term outcomes, such as encouraging sustained participation and continued community development post-event?
  • Practical support for event organizers: Designing supporting tools and workflows for hackathon organizers and community managers to leverage, such as instruments to evaluate outcomes and assess community needs.
  • Applications: Applications of hackathon-style events to non-traditional contexts (such as, but not limited to, learning environments and/or non-software engineering work), reports of both successes and lessons learned
  • Mediated interactions and modality transitions: How are computer-mediated communication and collaborative tools used in augmenting time-bounded collaborative events? What collaboration structures support different event designs and outcomes? What opportunities and challenges do these tools introduce? How do we preserve group and work artefacts when we move from virtual to face-to-face spaces and back?
  • Theoretical space of ‘hackathons’: Building theory around the ecology and etymology of ‘hacking’ to support a more generalized understanding of the opportunities for collaborative work, e.g. what is the boundary space for events to be considered “hackathons”, what are related activities that go by different names (e.g. Codefests, Sprints), how are they connected, and where does the family of events fit within the broader space of CSCW?


Portland, Oregon
Saturday, February 25th, 2017


As part of CSCW 2017: the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Co-Operative Work and Social Computing.
(Conference registration is NOT required to attend the workshop.)

Schedule Download full proposal


Time Activity
09:00AM - 10:00AM Boaster introductions (2 minutes each, no slides)
10:00AM - 10:30AM "A Typology of Hackathon Events" PDF
Margaret Drouhard, Anissa Tanweer and Brittany Fiore-Gartland

Discussant: Victoria Schwanda Sosik PDF
10:30AM - 11:00AM COFFEE BREAK
11:00AM - 11:30AM "Community and Code: Lessons from NESCent hackathons" PDF
Arlin Stoltzfus

Discussant: Dannon Baker
11:30AM - 12:00PM "The CHI4Good Day of Service: What is Produced?" PDF
Emily Porter, Chris Bopp, Elizabeth Gerber and Amy Voida

Discussant: Kenny Joseph PDF
12:00PM - 12:30PM "Building Something Amazing: 4 years of Ohio State's Hackathon Program"
Arnab Nandi and Meris Mandernach

Discussant: Erin Hoffman
12:30PM - 02:00PM LUNCH
02:00PM - 02:30PM OPEN SPACE 1
  • Stephen Scallen PDF, Microsoft "HackBox" demo
  • Your content here. Propose an "unconference" style breakout topic/activity during your 2 minute boaster.
02:30PM - 03:00PM OPEN SPACE 2
  • Victoria Schwanda Sosik PDF, Hands-on exercise(s) from Google's sprint approach
  • Your content here. Propose an "unconference" style breakout topic/activity during your 2 minute boaster.
03:00PM - 03:30PM "Participatory Research in Open Science Events" PDF
Aurelia Moser

Discussant: Vassilis-Javed Khan PDF
03:30PM - 04:00PM COFFEE BREAK
04:00PM - 04:30PM "Community Data Science Workshop" PDF
Jonathan Morgan, Dharma Dailey and Mako Hill

Discussant: Brittany Fiore-Gartland PDF
04:30PM - 05:00PM Panel: Ryan Curtin PDF & Chris Holdgraf PDF
Thinking through event design: challenges and opportunities for the future

Discussant: Erik Trainer PDF
05:00PM - 05:30PM WRAP-UP
Synthesis of work presented, summary of insights, and concrete next steps for action

Discussant: Anna Filippova PDF

About the organizers


A little more about us!

Anna Filippova

Anna Filippova is a postdoctoral researcher with the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University, where she studies the role of events in supporting open collaborative community development. She has several years of experience in organizing open source community events, including large-scale conferences like Abstractions and Red Dot Ruby, and monthly meet-ups. Her Ph.D work with the National University of Singapore examined the impact of different forms of conflict on Free and Open Source Software development. She has also studied group norm evolution and normative conflict in virtual spaces and open collaborative communities.

Brad Chapman

Brad Chapman is a research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He develops open source tools for analyzing biological data, and organizes yearly Codefest working sessions for the open source bioinformatics community. This years Codefest was the 7th, with an increased focus on community engagement and training (https://www.open-bio.org/wiki/Codefest2 016).

R. Stuart Geiger

R. Stuart Geiger is an ethnographer and post-doctoral scholar at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at UCBerkeley, where he studies the infrastructures and institutions that support the production of knowledge. His Ph.D research at the UC-Berkeley School of Information focused on the governance and operation of Wikipedia and scientific research networks. He has studied topics including newcomer socialization, moderation and quality control, specialization and professionalization, cooperation and conflict, the roles of support staff and technicians, and diversity and inclusion.

James D. Herbsleb

James D. Herbsleb is a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he serves as Director of the PhD program in Societal Computing. His research interests focus on global software development, open source, and more generally on collaboration and coordination in software projects. He was recently awarded the SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award in 2016, and previously the Alan Newell Award for Research Excellence in 2014. He has served on the PC of several conferences, including ICSE and FSE, was co-chair of CSCW 2004, and served as an associate editor of ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology.

Arun Kalyanasundaram

Arun Kalyanasundaram is a PhD student in the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University. His research involves studying coordination and collaboration in open-source software. He has performed ethnographic studies of hackathons to understand their socio-technical outcomes and their impact on building scientific software communities.

Aurelia Moser

Aurelia Moser is a developer and curious chemist-cartographer building communities around code at the Mozilla Science Lab. She works particularly on outreach and event development for Mozilla’s convenings programs, including the Working Open Workshop, Global Sprint, Mozfest, and Fellowship Research Jams. Previously of Ushahidi, Internews Kenya, and Carto, she’s been working in the open tech and non-profit space for a few years, and recent projects have had mapping sensor data to support agricultural security, citizen science, and sustainable apis ecosystems in the Global South.

Arlin Stoltzfus

Arlin Stoltzfus is a Research Biologist at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (Genome-scale Measurements Group, NIST), where his work focuses on issues in molecular evolution, bioinformatics, and evolu-tionary theory, using computer-based approaches. He also develops software and participates in community efforts to improve interoperability of software and data used in evolutionary analysis. He was part of the group of scientists that, over a 10-year period, developed and refined the hackathon model used at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), a US National Science Foundation-funded research center. He continues to plan and facilitate timebounded cooperative events

Erik H. Trainer

Erik Trainer is a post-doctoral researcher in the Institute for Software Research at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his PhD in Information Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine in 2012. His research focuses on creating technologies and practices that support the relationships of people engaged in technical work, especially in open-source software development and software production in science.

We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable feedback of Meg Drouhard, Arnab Nandi and Margaret-Anne Storey in the development of the workshop.