Hackathons; what are they?


noun, informal

  1. an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.
  2. “a series of 48-hour hackathons to build new web and mobile services”

They’re these cool events where nerds unite to compete in programming competitions. In other words, something every programmer needs to try at least once. I’ve participated in two hackathons, both hosted by UIT. I attended the 2016 Halloween event and another that didn’t really have a theme, but was more fun.

The Halloween event was teams of three. I was paired with Spencer and Bobby and we made a timer that counts down from the time you input and plays a scary sound when the timer hit zero. Obviously, it was designed to be hidden on an unsuspecting victim’s computer to catch them off guard. The team that won made a spooky trivia game that would scare you if you got the answer wrong.

More recently, we had a smaller hackathon where the class was divided into two teams of three, and we had four days to come up with any project that required us to learn something new. My team was with Spencer and Riley. I learned to use Python to make a Reddit bot that went around subreddits replying to certain trigger words with a random Chuck Norris joke from the ICNDB. That account got banned from a ton of subs, got less than -100 comment karma, and was reported ten times on /r/spam. I would link to the bot but people have replied to it with death threats directed at whoever made it. People didn’t seem to appreciate my art for some reason.

How can I spam Reddit without people realizing?


reddit loves cats.

I decided to try a new method to shamelessly grab karma, so I set up a new bot to go in /r/CatsStandingUp. In this sub, every comment is just the word “Cat.”, so all the bot does is reply with the same message. This bot has received over 1,500 upvotes and no reports on /r/spam as of May 22nd.  Spencer made a variation of my bot that would grab comments with the word “banana” to reply with Rob in his banana suit. The other team made Wump. A Wikipedia article summarizer that writes in the style of Trump tweets. It’s awesome and they won, but our’s was definitely cooler (not really).

Hackathons are a great way to practice and learn coding. They also get people talking, which can be a problem for a group of nerds. If you have any interest in coding, I can’t recommend it enough just to get out there and try. It’s more fun than you’d think. 

1 thought on “Hackathons; what are they?”

Eric Lortie Eric Lortie says:

Congrats! You’ve taken the first step towards building something that has the power to drastically change the world.


I was genuinely excited to see you guys making a reddit bot. You’ve only scraped the surface of the delightful, frivolous and incredibly impactful ways you can use those. Great work.

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