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Preventing Cheating At Hackathons

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the cheaters-never-win dept.

Programming 104

theodp writes "The fist rule of Hackathon Club is don't talk about Hackathon Club cheating. But ever-increasing stakes — the MHacks Hackathon at the Univ. of Michigan is offering over $30,000 in prizes — prompts Kevin Conley to broach the subject, suggesting it's time for some common-sense measures — including showing one's code or reducing prize money — to discourage Hackathon ruses, which can include pre-coding, faked live demos/videos, and the use of remote teammates."

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Is this really... (0, Offtopic)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44863553)

my first FP?

Re:Is this really... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863559)

...clearly you cheated

Re:Is this really... (-1, Offtopic)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44863577)

Just got lucky. But feel free to mod me down, off-topic...

Sorry, I always wanted to do that. ;-)

Re:Is this really... (3, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44865343)

I'm just writing to let you know I modded you up +1 Insightful.

Re:Is this really... (1)

Enfixed (2423494) | about a year ago | (#44865625)

But after you post on the same article, all your mod points to others go bye bye... ;)

Re:Is this really... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44865651)

Hey, give 'im a break - after all, he is New Around Here.

Just another level of hacking (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44863619)

Complaining people are hacking the rules of a hackathon is a supreme irony. You're taking people who thrive on the idea of bending and breaking rules and trying to shove them in boxes and demand they follow your rules. That's rich. You clearly haven't met many hackers.

Rather than bitching about "cheating", why not just issue the challenge and leave it at that. First one in wins, the end. No rules, no restrictions... and may the best person win. Or group. Or sentient AI. This is how hacking truly works -- it's all about finding novel solutions. It's about seeing how fast you can do it, how much skill you can bring to the table, how elegant the solution is... but at the end of the day, the only real judge is whether you passed the goal post. Few people anymore care about why or how... that's something to talk about after, as you bask in the glory of having done the impossible.

"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (4, Insightful)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44863699)

Hacking in and of itself is cheating. So if you can cheat at cheating, you're doing it right -- you're smarter than the beast you're facing.

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863907)

Actually, it is the art of deducing how a computer system *actually* works as opposed to how it is intended to work.

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) | about a year ago | (#44864629)

That's actually one of the best definitions I've ever heard

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864669)

I like your definition a lot, and I've been looking for a good one for a long time. Can I recommend that the qualifier "computer" be struck and make the definition:

"Hacking: the art of deducing how a system *actually* works as opposed to how it is intended to work."

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864755)

No, THAT'S COMPUTER SCIENCE.

Hacking is quite literally that, taking bits from here and there and cobbling something together that works. Hacking is an art form that takes great skill, but it is by no means an implication of computer mastery. It's like claiming a welder and a blacksmith are the same thing.

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44866005)

No that is not hacking, that is playing API monkey.

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44866575)

Actually, it is the art of deducing how a computer system *actually* works as opposed to how it is intended to work.

Yes, but authorities view anyone who makes the computer work in a way they didn't expect it to work as a terrorist, criminal, or dirt bag. They view your intellectual achievement with suspicion; You have managed to do something they didn't expect or anticipate. That must mean you're up to no good. You must have been smart enough to know they didn't expect it, therefore you were intentionally subverting their authority, therefore you're a threat, therefore they are authorized to call you whatever they need to, plant evidence, or do whatever is necessary to remove said threat.

Intelligence... is dangerous. So dangerous that it must be controlled. But since we're in a democracy, we can't just lock people up for being smart. Not directly anyway. We can, however just put them under surveillance until they do something, anything... and then ta-da... it's goodbye smart person, hello prison sentence. Public safety is assured. Job well done. -1 Terrorist. So what's for dinner, honey?

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

Bigby (659157) | about a year ago | (#44864831)

Why not a hack-athon that aims at creating a product eliminates hack-athon cheating?

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

Urkki (668283) | about a year ago | (#44866337)

Hacking in and of itself is cheating. So if you can cheat at cheating, you're doing it right -- you're smarter than the beast you're facing.

...unless you get caught, of course. Then you're just incompetent (you were caught) and stupid (you did not know or care about your incompetence).

Re:"I cheated." -- Spock, in the first movie (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44867065)

Hacking isn't cheating. Hacking used to be a respected method where you used various tools to create something interesting as a proof of concept. If you wanted to take the idea further, you then make a proper spec and rewrote the project using best practices and proper architecture (assuming you didn't the first time. Some people do take pride in their work instead if slopping shitty code together). Hackers had reputable reputations.

Hacking has nothing to do with cheating. Cheating is screwing over other people for your personal benefit. Hacking is supposed to help everyone. Stop redefining words to make yourself fit into categories where you don't belong.

Re:Just another level of hacking (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863745)

It's slashdot so I can't complain that you didn't read the whole summary since the relevant bits were in the 2nd half. Had you bothered to get all the way to the end you'd see that in some cases people are submitting faked results which means they didn't pass the goal post at all, they 3d rendered the goal post and then pretended they passed it.

That's not hacking the rules. Hacking the rules would be using a team of 3 people and 18 dogs when the rules state a 3 person limit for a team.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#44865373)

Honestly, if the dogs are that good, I would limit them to only 5 per team.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863751)

My thoughts exactly.

If some "hackers" are following the competition rules, they are not *real* hackers.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863783)

Rather than bitching about "cheating", why not just issue the challenge and leave it at that. First one in wins, the end. No rules, no restrictions... and may the best person win. Or group. Or sentient AI.

Because you get code that looks like this: http://xkcd.com/221/

A "no rules" competition will always devolve to just bribing the judges. That's not particularly innovative.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

t1oracle (1908404) | about a year ago | (#44865251)

Why bribe the judges when you can just blackmail their families?

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44863831)

unless the thing that they're supposed to create is revealed at the beginning of the event I don't see how they could bitch about bringing in code - but in that case, if they predicted the code beforehand more power to them. they're sure aren't writing the compilers at the event so everyone there is going to be leveraging someone elses code.

another note, what? they're doing contests?! how about just NOT CARING ABOUT ANY RULES and creating USEFUL SOFTWARE with the time you have to spare(seriously, that's what I thought was the point of hackathons and not making your v-penis larger to score a job..).

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863901)

Well, checking the actual code is a reasonable measure. Indeed, I'm surprised that this isn't yet done. After all, when you hand in a homework at school, the teacher will also check that what you handed in really is the solution to the homework, and not something else.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44864021)

Reminds me of a scene from Naruto, an anime about ninjas (don't judge me, we're all nerds here!). There's a test to become a ninja, part of it is a written test. Cheating is expected and allowed, but only so long as you don't get caught. After all, they're ninjas.

Naruto is for posers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865889)

Except its Naruto, and no self-respecting nerd would be watching it.

If you were a nerd you'd have a Gundam, Yamato, or Macross reference.

Gundam is for posers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44868197)

Real nerds watch Hikaru no Go.

Re:Gundam is for posers (1)

techprophet (1281752) | about a year ago | (#44868675)

Real nerds read sci-fi classics by the likes of Isaac Asimov.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

prelelat (201821) | about a year ago | (#44864035)

The fun in cheating in such an event is that you can be caught. Break the rules and you lose. No ill will should be held against a person/team who cheats but it should be seen more as a failure to institute your hack properly. Except this time you are hacking the game.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

prelelat (201821) | about a year ago | (#44864085)

After further reading ignore what I said I thought we were talking about hackathons like it was some of the games at def con where you hack into systems and play games. Not coding or building hackathons.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864295)

What a stupid, arrogant thing to say. The whole point is that the "goal" has become the prize money rather than the actual hack goal. People are just pretending to have accomplished the hack goal. While you can say that's a hack of the contest of sorts, it's not a particularly useful or interesting hack. Especially when their only "hack" was putting together some fake results. If you can't see how cheating at a voluntary competition is different than a real world hack than I pity your myopia and delusion of some imaginary "hacker" culture you think you're part of.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

deadweight (681827) | about a year ago | (#44864297)

Word.........this read to me like "how to stop speeding at F1 races".

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44864435)

F1 has a pit lane speed limit, so that's a pretty bad example. Especially since not only do they have a speed limit but they have speed limiters in the cars so to try and stop the drivers from breaking them.

Re:Just another level of hacking (2)

deadweight (681827) | about a year ago | (#44864607)

OK - how about how to stop farting at a bean eating contest then?

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44864837)

Fine, I'm to scared to check if they have rules about that...

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44864859)

The speed limiters in the cars are so the driver doesn't fuck up, not because the rules says they are supposed to use speed limiters. Its an aid so the driver, pumped up from driving 160mph doesn't screw up when he slows down to 45-60mph and feels like he could get out and walk faster.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44865019)

The pit lane speed limit is one rule. Actually Formula One has 121 pages of rules [espnf1.com] .

A sport don't just "have" rules, it is created by a set of rules. Without the rules the sport does not exist. ("Eat or be eaten" is not a sport). The idea of a hackathon without rules isn't even good or bad, it's just nonsensical. "I mean, who is The Man to tell us this hackathon has to be about using computers to do stuff?"

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

youngatheart (1922394) | about a year ago | (#44864539)

See the 6 different instances of "slow down" explaining when they stop speeding at F1 races on wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

There are rules for a reason in racing and in hacking competitions. There are no rules if you do it outside a group event, and as a result the risks are significantly higher.

nascar if you ain't cheatin aint trying (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44864761)

drivers and teams all looking for ways to cheat all the time.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865161)

Word.........this read to me like "how to stop speeding at F1 races".

The kind of cheating TFA is talking about is like:

-Starting ahead of everyone else
-Driving donuts around the finish line instead of complete laps
-Bribing the guy that tracks how many laps each car has completed

Some types of cheating make the whole contest pointless.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864737)

Agreed about the Irony comment.

For many years the International Obfuscated C Code Contest had a similar problem, each year someone would create a program that technically met the objective rules of the contest, but exploited something in the rules to win. IMHO - the programs that "cheated" were just as fascinating as the programs that worked based on "skill" alone.

My recommendation would be to have two classes of awards.
* People who solve the problem against the "sprit" of the challenge.
* People who solve the problem against the objective results (by cheating).
And give the judges the ability to move entries into each category.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865279)

Why? Exploiting arbitrary guidelines is not "hacking". That's just being a lawyer, which is already an activity unto itself with its own competitions.

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | about a year ago | (#44865095)

I mostly agree, but there is another aspect to hacking which is not being reflected: limited resources. Hacking is about using your intellect to over come the limitations. Now, you could use your hacking ability to leverage more resources (because they are needed) and that would still be hacking. But it's not hacking if you develop your high-altitude rocket module by hiring Boeing to do it for you. It's not hacking if you gain access to the telecom switchboards by asking your best buddy the CEO to give you the codes. The problem with the hackathon "cheating" is that sometimes it is not a matter of some people being clever enough to see how to game the rules while others are not, it is simply a matter of how dirty some people are willing to get compared to others. What we want is a comparison of skill, not ethics.

Analagously, slashdot loves when tech companies push out a bunch of inspired cutting edge products trying to out do each other. But we hate it when they use patents, monopolistic practices, etc. as their vehicle of "winning." It's the same with the hackathons -- win by being clever, not conniving. (and yes, there is some gray area, but there is some black-and-white area as well. . .)

Re:Just another level of hacking (1)

Urkki (668283) | about a year ago | (#44866321)

Complaining people are hacking the rules of a hackathon is a supreme irony. You're taking people who thrive on the idea of bending and breaking rules and trying to shove them in boxes and demand they follow your rules. That's rich.

If you cheat and get caught, you should not have cheated. Rules are rules, and you must not get caught breaking them. Adding extra checks to catch incompetent wannabe-hackers is perfectly ok.

Re:Just another level of hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44866741)

Funny It appears a majority of slashdotters don't know what a hackathon is. A hackathon is people coming together to write creative and new software, not to breach remote computer systems...

What about preventing hacking at cheatathons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863661)

What about preventing hacking at cheatathons? If we could do that, Wall Street's servers would be very secure.

Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (3, Funny)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44863685)

Some of the geeks at those hackathons have body builder physiques and are obvious users of anabolic steroid cocktails, which generally contain a mix of steroids, Diet Tab, and peanut M&M's.

Re:Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863983)

... Diet Tab, and peanut M&M's.

Diet Tab is actually a misnomer, all Tab is essentially "diet" but does not bear the title in its name.

Re:Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (2)

hubie (108345) | about a year ago | (#44864877)

Considering how bad Tab tastes, if such a concoction were to be made I can only image how awful Diet Tab would be!

Re:Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#44866019)

Considering how bad Tab tastes, if such a concoction were to be made I can only image how awful Diet Tab would be!

That's why I wait patiently each year for the limited release of "Tab Throwback," with real saccharin and stock up. Mmmmm, retro.

Re:Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864005)

You just made me angry, thirsty, and in the mood for a snack.

Re:Also need to cut out the anabolic steroids (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#44865705)

Diet Tab is redundant.

Hackathons are ruses (5, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about a year ago | (#44863707)

Some colleagues of mine recently participated in the NYC BigApps series of hackathons this spring. We went into our first one thinking you had to hack something together from nothing in 2-3 days after pitching your idea and attracting collaborators. In fact the CollabFinder site they set up to facilitate putting together a team "from scratch," and all the window dressing suggests that. But when you get to the "competition" it's mainly established teams that already have products that they're tweaking or putting some kind of new, minimal gloss on it. Plus all the palaver and marketing suggest that they're hoping to spur innovation that uses Open Data to make life better for New Yorkers. But at the final awards ceremony the game became clear--the judges were all Venture Capital guys, and the only apps that won were mobile apps that were Yelp/Facebook/Instagram clones, that could be capitalized by the VCs and flipped on unsuspecting 2nd round investors for some multiple, or a clone of something else that was already successful in the market. The app that took top prize in the Education category was a blatant rip-off of Scratch, the MIT-developed, open-source program that teaches kids how to program by treating code blocks like legos, and which is freely available on the Raspberry Pi that my kids play with.

So, it's a bit silly to talk about cheating at Hackathons when the entire essence of these events is really "Pitch-a-thons" so VCs can find new crap to pass off on suckers.

Call us when the judges are tech-savvy people who really know what they're talking about and what real innovation looks like. Then we can talk productively about cheating.

Re: Hackathons are ruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864695)

I've been to 4-5 hackathons, and it's true what you're saying but not entirely. There has been real hackathons where the judges are tech company reps. We had cto of microsoft and some other tech software people doing the judges once. And yes, once. We won the hackathon but by slim luck

Re:Hackathons are ruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865007)

Reminds me of a bridge building contest the Engineering club at my college ran my freshman year (1998!! i feel old). The bridges were to be made out of popsicle stick or something. Most of us (in the Electrical Engineering program heh) entered and lost horribly. Those in the club won because their bridges included the weight attachment point in the structure. And of course this info about the attachment point wasn't told to anyone outside of the club.

End result: We started our own club. With hookers and blackjack.

Re:Hackathons are ruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865791)

Notably, the first NYC Big Apps hackathon (and maybe others) didn't require any working code at all. It wasn't really a hackathon, it was a photoshopathon.

They cracked my hack-a-thon! (5, Interesting)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44863709)

"1. The demonstration of the hack is fake."

If you allow video submissions as some kind of proof then your "hackathon" is broken and they "hacked" it.

"2. The hack is real, but the coding was done or started by the team before the start of the hackathon."

There is no such thing as code that doesn't really on previously developed code. You used printf! You're out!

"3. The hack is real, but the coding was done by a larger team than allowed due to unauthorized remote teammates."

Somebody needs to read The Mythical Man Month. Adding more hackers to a late hacking project just makes it later. If they can stay organized and succeed in a larger group in a limited time frame then they have truly accomplished something even most software engineers cannot do.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#44864045)

Somebody needs to read The Mythical Man Month. Adding more hackers to a late hacking project just makes it later. If they can stay organized and succeed in a larger group in a limited time frame then they have truly accomplished something even most software engineers cannot do.

I really hate it when someone takes that book to be an absolute when there are no such things. No, you can't produce a baby in one month with nine women, but at the same time you will find it incredibly difficult to produce nine babies in nine months with one woman - asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand, adding extra people will only ever help even when the project is terribly late...

There are loads of scenarios where adding additional resource will do absolutely no harm at all and the worst that you can come out with is no gain at all.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864161)

Asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand? Are you aware of just how basic Twitter is? A database to store tweets, users, and their following relations could be knocked up in a three tables. A few services, to post tweets, poll for tweets and user info, to follow/unfollow peeps. I'd be stunned if any halfway decent coder -couldn't- produce a Twitter clone over a weekend.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864363)

Asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand?

Totally insane, I would never have asked anyone to build Twitter. It's like asking someone to piss on your shoes, totally insane.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Minwee (522556) | about a year ago | (#44865203)

Asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand? Are you aware of just how basic Twitter is?

While one person could code the basic structure, you would need at least one more person to draw the Fail Whale.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

mybadluck22 (750599) | about a year ago | (#44865221)

If twitter had 1000 users, it would be trivially simple to build. A weekend is a fair estimate. But the real challenge of twitter is doing this for millions of people and keeping it fast.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#44864263)

Somebody needs to read The Mythical Man Month. Adding more hackers to a late hacking project just makes it later. If they can stay organized and succeed in a larger group in a limited time frame then they have truly accomplished something even most software engineers cannot do.

I really hate it when someone takes that book to be an absolute when there are no such things.

In my 20+ years of doing engineering at varying places, I can tell you that the concepts presented in The Mythical Man Month (by Frederick P. Brooks) were always right in every situation I've seen so far. Designers, Engineers, software developers and those who manage them should be required to read this book every few years. There is no silver bullet, adding manpower to a late project usually makes it later, and all the rest need to be understood by all involved or you will be reading "Death March" by Edward Yourdon.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44864645)

Yes, but the key word there is "late", something that doesn't apply in this scenario.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44866549)

It's not really lateness per se, it's being under time pressure.

But the former, in the commercial world, generally implies the latter since somebody generally isn't happy about the situation and wants you to do something about it pron-fucking-to.

Competitions are usually against the clock, so really it comes down to the same thing.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44866733)

No, because the underlying issue is that getting new people up to speed kills the productivity of the current people, plus communication overhead goes up.

If you have a competition task, having 20 people available to work on it better than having 2. You can have 10 groups of two work independently and use the thing that ends up worming. You could pick the best 2 at the specific area the previously unknown task is in the domain of. Maybe there ends up being a sub task that is independent enough that a couple of other people can hack it up while the primary pair work on the rest. And so on. Maybe you just have a higher chance of hitting the "I've done exactly this before" person.

It can't be worse, you can have the 2 people who aren't extras just work as if they are the only two and have the other 18 people do any of the above and again use the thing that ends up working.

You aren't limited to the throw more bodies at the late project technique that makes things worse.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44864507)

"I really hate it when someone takes that book to be an absolute when there are no such things"

Off topic

"There are loads of scenarios where adding additional resource will do absolutely no harm at all and the worst that you can come out with is no gain at all."

Right. Because it won't take time to consider findings or debate if they matter. There is no chance that the person will come up with an idea that sounds great, but turns out to be a boondoggle.

"No, you can't produce a baby in one month with nine women, but at the same time you will find it incredibly difficult to produce nine babies in nine months with one woman"

You are right about the results I achieved, but I would still endeavor to try it again in a heartbeat.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#44864909)

Off topic

No more off topic than you bringing it up in the first place, and since Im *replying* to the content of your post, it most fucking certainly is on topic - you cannot kill discussion that easily.

The cry of "off topic" is starting to become the Slashdot equivalent of calling someone antisemitic if they dare to criticise Israel...

Right. Because it won't take time to consider findings or debate if they matter. There is no chance that the person will come up with an idea that sounds great, but turns out to be a boondoggle.

So are you saying there are absolutely no situations in which adding people in as a resource produces results? You seem to be taking my comment as an "every situation" one, when I specifically said "There are loads of scenarios where..." and not "In every scenario...".

Are you *that* tied to the doctrines of a fucking book you cannot begin to see that it doesn't hold true for every single scenario out there?

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44865285)

I never wrote half of what you quoted. You can';t seriously expect to me to bother reading what you wrote if you can't be bothered to read it (and I assure you I didn't.)

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44864885)

asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand,

So ... I'm guessing you don't have any idea how twitter was created then?

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865621)

Have you not heard of octo-mom?

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865623)

adding extra people will only ever help even when the project is terribly late...

Yet if the woman is late she can probably pop out a baby in 7.5-8 months. If she is really late she might produce the baby in less than 7 months so in this case procrastinating can boost productivity more than adding more women.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44866425)

asking one person to build Twitter is an insane demand, adding extra people will only ever help even when the project is terribly late...

No it won't, for $deity's sake. The effort of bringing them up to speed and the coordination/communication overhead can outweigh any useful work the newbies can perform, making it even later. Perhaps you've never been on a project long enough for a horde of developers to swarm in, asking questions every ten minutes and spending most of the nine between breaking stuff.

That's the point of the book. It's not that you can do anything with one person working part-time for 23 minutes.

If you'd actually read the book - and understood it - you'd know that you need to have the right number of the right people in the right organizational structure withe the right tools before it gets late.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44864383)

Somebody needs to read The Mythical Man Month. Adding more hackers to a late hacking project just makes it later.

This is not the same situation as described in MMM. They are not adding more random programmers to a team. The outside programmers are already part of the team, and already know their roles, and how to coordinate and communicate with their teammates.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44864557)

I agree that it isn't the exact same situation. That doesn't mean there isn't a serious productivity hit when you try to coordinate the efforts of more and more people to solve a problem in a short time frame.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#44864633)

Since you just added the "late" part, that last argument is simply bullshit.

It should be pretty damn obvious that when you are to be given a task you don't know much about before hand that a bigger team is going to better. Instead of your team of 3 coders, you have a team of 15 and you just pick the 3 who are best at the domain the task ends up being about. The other 12 go and play video games - how exactly do you think that is going to make things worse?

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44865259)

"Since you just added the "late" part, that last argument is simply bullshit."

You are thinking of your own post. I didn't write The Mythical Man Month, but I assure you the word late is used in the original. That is actually what late means in the book. You have no time to waste because it is already late. When you are in a time crunch you start out late from the get go. The two scenarios are identical.

"It should be pretty damn obvious that when you are to be given a task you don't know much about before hand that a bigger team is going to better. "

Unless of course you actually have any experience, rather than hypothesizing like you are clearly doing.

"The other 12 go and play video games - how exactly do you think that is going to make things worse?"

Wrong. The other 12 try to argue with the three you are talking about that they are in fact the ones who should be doing it. Their idea is better. You clearly have absolutely zero experience working in a team environment, especially one made up of highly skilled and ergo typically egotistical personalities.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Urkki (668283) | about a year ago | (#44866063)

"Adding more hackers to a late hacking project just makes it later."

By that logic, every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team. Adding more would just slow things down... Not to mention, a competition project is not late when the extra teammates are added, they are added before the project even starts...

The optimal team size of competent hackers to minimize "wall clock time" while maximizing creativity and quality is almost certainly more than allowed team size in a competition.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44866147)

"By that logic, every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team."

That isn't a logical conclusion, but it is a great example of a ridiculous non sequitur,.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about a year ago | (#44868041)

No actually GPs conclusion is perfectly logical.

Assumption: Adding more programmers to a late project always makes it more late.
P = Project that is not late with 1 developer
Q = P with deadline arbitrarily changed to the past
Qprime = Q with another developer added

By the assumption Qprime will be later than Q. Changing a deadline does not change the amount of work to be done, so the time completion of Q is approx the same as P. Therefore GP conclusion that "By that [assumption], every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team" is completely correct.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#44868185)

Lets start by assuming anyone who really believes that " every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team" is a moron. It is a 100% safe assumption, and it cuts through all the rest of the bullshit.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about a year ago | (#44868749)

You fail a point of logic that most humans do. I wouldn't normally mention it, except that you brought up "ridiculous non sequitur".

Consider an implication A -> B, such as "if it is Tuesday, then I should buy milk". There are actually 3 propositions present:
1) it is Tuesday, called the implicant
2) I should buy milk, called the implicand
3) if it is Tuesday, then I should buy milk, called the implication

Most humans cannot actually distinguish between the 3. If you find a regular person, they won't realize that "I should buy milk" and "if it is Tuesday, then I should buy milk" are actually 2 separate propositions, as you demonstrated above.

"By that logic, every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team."

1) Implicant -- that logic, which is the man hour assumption, that adding more programmers to a late project always makes it more late
2) Implicand -- "every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team"
3) Implication -- "By that logic, every project, no matter the size and scope, would be fastest to implement by 1 person team."

GP stated that the implicand is false due to the fact that the implicant and the implication is true. You are conflating the implicand and the implication (something most people do) and assuming that because the implicand is false, the implication must be as well.

I suggest that instead of calling logic "bullshit" and people who make false assumptions for the sake of proof by contradiction "morons", that you instead learn logic and better yourself as a human being.

Re:They cracked my hack-a-thon! (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about a year ago | (#44868773)

GP stated that the implicand is false due to the fact that the implicant and the implication is true.

I should have said more clearly "the original poster was saying that the assumption is false due to the fact that the conclusion is false and the implication is true." Would be nice to be able to edit posts.

b b b bu but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863739)

james t kirk hacked.. so it's ok, right?

Re:b b b bu but... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#44864275)

Only when it has the benefit of not yet been tried before... Remember.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44863771)

Really, it took them that long to notice?

The people I know who are interested in hackathons are the biggest cheaters I know.

They get rewarded and punished just like Wall Street bankers. Though its generally not a lucrative the rewards still vastly out weigh the risks or even punishments for cheating.

Circumvent the rules, just not ours!!! (1)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year ago | (#44863959)

Yeah, I see that going well..."trash the rules but please respect ours". "OK", said no hacker ever. Speaking of ruses...that's the very definition of these "Hackathons".

Sounds like working on spec (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864013)

The idea that you give your labour for free on the off-chance you might get paid is called "working on spec" in the design industry.

Taking part in a hackathon for a good reason that you want to support is one thing, but 30 grand prize money is a bit different - it sounds like someone is using this as a way to crowd source innovative ideas - the ideas that they choose get paid, everyone else gives their time and effort for free. Surely we can think up a better and fairer model than this.

Kobayashi Maru (2)

betasaur (12453) | about a year ago | (#44864291)

And no one ever beats Kobayashi Maru either. Oh, wait. Someone hacked that too?

Integrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44864397)

If more hackers, IT workers, and people in general had it, this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Integrity vs bending the rules or breaking them (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44864843)

Re:Integrity vs bending the rules or breaking them to get the job done.

Also some times unions can slow stuff down by working to rule.

explain the code (2)

doti (966971) | about a year ago | (#44864591)

How about asking for the winners to explain the code?

don't do hackathons (2)

mspring (126862) | about a year ago | (#44864733)

Why does everything being fun have to be turned into a competion where there's an incentive to cheat?

What's a 'hackathon'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44865145)

What's a hackathon, and why would you want to cheat in one? The only ones I'm familiar with are OpenBSD hackathons where programmers gather, listen to humppa, and code. That's about it. Where's the possibility to cheat?

Total off-topic (3, Interesting)

grumpyman (849537) | about a year ago | (#44865691)

Most of the critical comments on the article do not understand the issue. Typical hackathorn is meant to build and demo a solution for a problem in a short time (folks comment about 'hacking', seriously do you know what hackathorn is about?). The problem is that the 'idea' is self identified - you pick your problem. If it is more run like a programming contest where participants do not know what the problem is ahead of time, and presented then it'll be more meaningful.

Preparing ahead of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44867013)

Once I met a guy who basically lived off earnings from hackathons while trying to get his startup off the ground. He would spend time before hand finding libraries, writing wrappers, designing the solution, figuring out what to make, etc. He would even write tons of utility classes and sketch out pages beforehand. Then he'd show up, actually connect everything and blow everyone else away. I was surprised and then realized, hey, why not, if he's making good solutions who cares.

This whole thing is ridiculous.

consider the goal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44867643)

The OP has a really good point. One might argue (as some have) that cheating is in the spirit of hacking. But it's not. "Hacking" doesn't mean cheating. It means "crafting" or "making" or "figuring out" or "doing" with often, but not always, a strong emphasis on complicated technological systems. So one should consider the goal of a Hackathon. If the goal is "to win it", then anything goes. But if the goal is "to encourage the creation of new neat or useful things", then face demos, etc., are pointless; such things prevent reaching that goal.

How are any of those cheating? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about a year ago | (#44868309)

Pre-coding? In my line of work, pre-coding is called being prepared.

Video demos? If the code is real, and pre-coded, who cares if the video was made yesterday. Saves on Bill Gates style embarrassments.

Remote teammates? Um. So all code everywhere is written by people in the same room?

Not really hacking (1)

wintermute740 (450084) | about a year ago | (#44869579)

It's not really hacking if you aren't pulling out all the stops, is it? IOW, there's no such thing as "cheating" when it comes to hacking.

misread the title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44870679)

I thought that said "preventing cheering at Hackathons" for a second
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