Frequently Asked Questions



What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is best described as an “invention marathon”. Anyone who has an interest in technology attends a hackathon to learn, build & share their creations over the course of a weekend in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. You don’t have to be a programmer and you certainly don’t have to be majoring in Computer Science.

Does Major League Hacking help with travel reimbursements?

Unfortunately, Major League Hacking isn’t able to provide hackers with travel reimbursements. We have in certain cases provided it in the past but we’re always on the hunt to find more sustainable ways to bring more students to hackathons.

I just graduated, can I still come to an event?

Yes. Anyone who has graduated within the last 12 months is still eligible to attend an MLH Member Event hackathon. After that, there’s plenty of non-student hackathons that exist for you to consider attending.

What if I don’t know how to code?

Not a problem! The entire Major League Hacking team knew very little when they each attended their very first hackathon. It’s entirely irrelevant what your experience is going into a hackathon, it’s more about your interest in technology. Every MLH Member Event is passionate about making their hackathons very welcoming and beginner-friendly. If you’re wanting to learn how to code outside of a hackathon, there’s a fantastic blog post that you should read. After, you should check out the following: Treehouse, Codecademy and the Major League Hacking blog to get started.

Will I annoy people if I ask them questions?

Not at all! This is a common misconception about hackathons and in actual fact, it’s the complete opposite. The environment at these events are designed specifically to encourage everyone to have fun and help each other. If you’re ever stuck on anything, go find a volunteer who might able to help and if not, they will almost certainly know who can.

What if I don’t know anybody there?

Not to worry! You’ll meet people when you get there. Everybody’s very friendly. A lot of people go to hackathons without teams. So it’s perfectly normal to go around to people, tell them you’re looking for a team, and ask if you can help out. Hackathons will often run team-matching sessions at the start to help you meet people. And you can often join a facebook group for the event beforehand and post there to find potential teammates. Protip: Invite your friends to come to the hackathon too! That way you’re guaranteed to have at least one familiar face.

What if I don’t have an idea?

That’s normal. Most people don’t have an idea before they get to the event. But once you start talking to other people, you might come up with something. You can also work with somebody else on their idea if you like it. And there will be prizes at the event which might help give you some ideas. Don’t worry about it, you’ll find something to work on.

Where can I sleep?

Sometimes the organizers will have put aside a quiet, dark room you can get some rest. If that’s the case, there are usually two rooms separated by gender. Due to venue restrictions, sometimes you’re going to have to grab some sleep on a sofa or on the ground beside your table. Either way, you should bring a sleeping bag and maybe a pillow to the event. Sleeping at hackathons isn’t always the most comfortable arrangement, but it’s absolutely worth it for the experience.

Will there be food?

Absolutely! Your meals for the weekend will be free and there’ll be plenty of snacks and drinks to keep you energized. If you’ve got specific dietary requirements, you should let the event organizers know and they’ll be more than happy to make arrangements.

What if I don’t want to present my hack?

You might think your project isn’t impressive or it might not be finished so you don’t want to present it. You should present it anyway! Honestly, hackathons isn’t about being the best or being competitive. It’s all about having fun, making friends and learning how to become better at things you care about. Presenting your hack gives you a chance to be proud of what you’ve done, and you should be proud.

Great! How can I get involved?

Go ahead and visit the Major League Hacking website for a list of upcoming hackathons in the North American and European seasons. If your region or area isn’t represented, you should get in touch and we’ll discuss how we can change that.

What does Major League Hacking do?

Major League Hacking is the official student hackathon league. We organize the hackathon seasons in North America and Europe and support the 50,000 student hackers who participate annually in student hackathons.

How does Major League Hacking help student hackathon organizers?

Major League Hacking provides a ton of resources for official MLH Member Events organizers before, during, and after their hackathons. Depending on how much help they need, we could offer them regular 1-on-1 mentorship sessions, a fully stocked hardware lab, event promotion and on-site support from an officially trained MLH representative. A full list of our base package and add-ons can be found here.

How do I get my event listed on the Major League Hacking website?

In order to have your event listed on the Major League Hacking website, you’ll need to be approved to become a MLH Member Event. To learn more about our membership, you can read our official event membership guide and apply here.

Why are there multiple events on the same weekend during a MLH Season?

There are sadly only 52 weekends in a year, and generally only 10-12 in each college semester. We work with nearly 150 hackathons annually, so there will always be some overlap. We try our best to make sure hackathons are well-distributed over a large geographic region when there is unavoidable overlap. Contrary to popular belief, multiple hackathons on the same weekend don’t divide the community, it grows it by creating opportunity for new hackers that would otherwise be unable to participate that weekend. Most noticeably, both PennApps and MHacks each drew over 1,200 participants simultaneously for the biggest hackathon weekend ever in January of 2015!

Does Major League Hacking charge events?

No. Becoming a MLH Member Event is 100% free for organizers and participants. Major League Hacking has its own national sponsors, which are separate from your event’s local sponsors. We’ll work with you to help find new sponsors, plan out your budget, and figure out how best to spend it, but you get to use every cent of what you raise on the local level. You also get to hang on to anything you have left over at the end - we recommend you put it towards your next event!

How does Major League Hacking make money?

Just like local hackathons, Major League Hacking is supported primarily through corporate sponsorships. You can find a list of our current sponsors here.

How does Major League Hacking work with sponsors?

Major League Hacking (MLH) works with organizations that are looking to provide resources across every event in the national or global season. Many brands don’t have the resources to staff 100+ events per season, so they rely on MLH’s expertise and resources to help them scale their presence, connect with student hackers everywhere, and build a community around their brand. We generally pull from different budgets than local events do.

What is Major League Hacking’s corporate structure?

Major League Hacking’s (MLH) full legal name is “Major League Hacking, Inc”. In March 2016, we became a Certified B-Corporation and announced our Seed Round. We also have a registered trademark for “Major League Hacking”.

Who is responsible for organizing the event and making relevant decisions?

The local event organizers are responsible for their event and for making decisions about it. As Major League Hacking has experience helping 1,000’s of organizers around the world, organizers often ask Major League Hacking for help during the process of organizing and running events. MLH Member Events delegate some decision making authority to Major League Hacking during the membership process, where Major League Hacking Policies are concerned.

Why does Major League Hacking have a Code of Conduct and Incident Response Procedure?

We want Major Leaugue Hacking events to be a safe and welcoming space for hackers. Having a Code of Conduct makes the process of reporting incidents as simple as possible and provides guidelines for behavior at events. The Incident Response Procedure ensures that we're handing incidents in an appropriate and professional manner.

How did you make the Code of Conduct and Incident Response Procedure?

Our Code of Conduct is based on the Open Code of Conduct. Our Incident Response procedure is based on the Ada Initiative’s guidelines for anti-harassment policies at tech events. Both are considered industry best practices.

How do you determine what the appropriate response is to an incident?

Whenever we receive an incident report we follow our official Incident Response policy, which you can read here.

Who has the power to take disciplinary action at an event?

When there are violations of the Code of Conduct or Membership Guide, Major League Hacking has the authority to take disciplinary action with the involvement of the event’s organizers. If the incident has been escalated to outside authorities, they have the final say. Outside of the Code of Conduct or Membership Guide, multiple parties may have their own policies to enforce such as: the university, law enforcement, the owner of the venue, or event organizers.

Why does Major League Hacking handle incidents?

Our staff is trained to handle incidents and has the experience of dealing with them across every event in the season. This ensures a standard experience for hackers. Hackers can rest assured there will be a code of conduct and incident response procedure at every event they attend. We are also to make organizers’ lives easier by ensuring that repeat offenders and bad actors are not present at their events. As a student hacker, it can be awkward to report an incident to one of your peers. Reporting to a professional organization like Major League Hacking can remove that awkwardness because you don’t have to see that person in class the next day.

Who is involved in deciding what an appropriate response is to an incident?

During every incident, we immediately involve the Major League Hacking incidents team, the event organizers, and any relevant authorities.

If someone disagrees with a decision made by Major League Hacking how may they appeal it?

In cases where someone disagrees with an action taken by MLH toward them in a incident response, appeals may be made by submitting a written request over email to incidents@mlh.io with “[Appeal]” in the subject line and attaching relevant information. Appeals are handled using our Incident Response Procedure.

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