Welcome to Hackathon season. University is a month in and the world’s hackathon’s kick off, sucking in thousands of engineers, business students and out-of-work mathematicians for nights of coding and ramen. Hackathons seem especially pronounced nowadays, particularly since that oh-so-viral Medium post. I even read a post that went as far as to suggest hackathons should replace college education entirely.
Okay, I’ll be the buzzkill douchebag.
Hackathons are a waste of time. The idea that wins a hackathon is likely no better than the one that comes in last place. Why? Because unless Paul Graham and Ron Conway are judging your hackathon, the ones picking winners are as good at predicting startup success as Cuba Gooding Jr.
Hackathons are where startups go to die. It’s a black hole where good ideas disappear. It’s a controlled, artificial environment that encourages endurance and stamina (see: Ramen noodles), instead of creativity and passion. Most importantly, it’s taking up valuable weekends. Imagine a startup ecosystem where group side projects were as prevalent as Hackathons. If all the thousands of bright people doing these competitions spent their weekends building products they actually gave a shit about, who knows where we’d be.
Stop doing hackathons. Spend your weekends building cool things. Do something productive that gives value. That’s it.