Call for feedback: What did you think of the Harmonious Hackathon at #lote4?

At lote4 this year we ran the first iteration of the Harmonious Hackathon idea birthed at lote3. What is a Harmonious Hackathon? (audience for this text is the startup scene):

During the community meeting the day after lote the consensus was that it makes sense to keep doing them. But more often than just once a year, more as a recurring thing that runs on a regular basis as a p2p support infrastructure.

So we would like to build on what we learned and keep developing the format and turn it into a fun, useful and economically viable line of activity for everyone involved. I have committed to do business development, fundraising and outreach for a series of Harmonious Hackathons next year and welcome 1-2 more people  to join the core team. I would especially welcome help with the tech coordination (especially the requirements engineering bits).

I believe it makes sense to start by learning from the experience: If you can answer three questions that would be very helpful.

  1. Would you be up for participating again and if yes, when would be a good place and time of the year for you?

  2. Which things did you think we got right and which ones could do with a lot more improvement in your opinion?

  3. Would you be interested in contributing to organising a harmonious hackathon and if so around what task/project/theme?


  1. Would you be up for participating again and if yes, when would be a good place and time of the year for you?

yes. no particular time of year. place anywhere reachable from Berlin – I guess that includes most of europe!

  1. Which things did you think we got right and which ones could do with a lot more improvement in your opinion?

[this is the website strand; I think kiderwind went somewhat differently]


  • great location. lots of space
  • 2 days is about the perfect length of time
  • good balance of participants
  • friendly, non-competitive atmosphere
  • decent attempt at documenting what we did
  • real, and largely successful, attempt to involve "non-technical" participants
  • we chose objectives of about the right size. i.e. things that it made sense for us to do in 2 days


  • I was (one) track co-ordinator for the website strand, and substantially screwed it up. I didn't have a very clear idea of what I should have been doing in that role, and didn't have enough experience either with the community or the platform to guide things. So the session muddled along without much guidance or direction.
  • The timing was very unclear. The dates were only clarified a couple of weeks before the event. I very nearly didn't come because I couldn't commit to a week-long event (as it was advertised). Then we had a day between the hackathon and LOTE -- which some people treated as extra hackathon and others didn't. So there was lots of unfocused hanging-around.
  • There wasn't any wrap-up. We should have come back together at the end, shown what we'd done, praised each other, etc.
  1. Would you be interested in contributing to organising a harmonious hackathon and if so around what task/project/theme?

I’d love to take part in a hackathon around writing something – book sprints would be an inspiration here. It can involve a lot more people than a purely technical hackathon, and can break down well into small tasks. e.g. imagine if edgeryders got a gig preparing some report, and we (at least partly) wrote it through hackathon-style collaboration.

For more technical hackathons: I’ve also proposed hack necromancy as a theme. I’d also be interested in anything else, provided it has a well-specified and plausible objective. I’m much more interested in hackathons to continue an ongoing project, rather than always trying to build something new.

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Thank you and next steps


thanks @danohu. I synthesised it into a new wiki where we are co-designing/building the next Harmonious Hackathon. I’ll try to ping the others so we get more feedback from more people who were there for the first one…Im also having a chat with Annemarie about this on thursday in case you’re interested in joining us mail me


Some feedback from my side (participating in the website track of the hackathon):

  • Motivation in the group was great, people liked to discuss and work on the task. Selecting a task that personally affects the hackers (like a web platform they use) is a good think …
  • Learning curve. Much of the subject matter here (Drupal architecture) has a rather long learning curve, which means that in two days, you can either learn something about Drupal, or be productive with something you know, but not both. Might have been frustrating for some who would've liked to contribute more, but the task did not match well to what they could do. So for the future, such a hackathon would profit either from matching tasks and skills before it starts, or from extending it so that one can both learn and contribute with that later (which means about 7 days minimum).
  • Optimistic planning? It turned out that the task we chose to do (notification system overhaul) was too big to finish in two days. But we got two thirds through, and it forces me to finish it now :) So even though we were too optimistic, the hackathon was valuable to kick off a task that else would be around for much longer …
  • Harmonics. Somebody said, "It was harmonious because we had good food and a great space." Which we had, but I did not really notice until later because it was somehow implicit. The social contract / social dynamics behind the harmonious hackathon is a synergistic collaboration between techie and non-techie people towards a single goal. I think the contributions from the non-techie crowd (good food, great space) were not appreciated enough during this first harmonious hackathon iteration. So, for the future, maybe a short daily closing time that includes thanking everyone for their respective contribution would be nice :)
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feedback from a “non-technical” side

for the 1st question : generally am up for another hacking. it depends if I can be more useful as a non programmer. For the place and time , since I am not in Europe now , I am up to help organize something here in Egypt to hack in parallel with you. It could be also good to have different spots in Europe- if it is feasible in terms of workload , coordination and so on -

hack4gaza that was co-organized by @elf_Pavlik was kinda successful in this as it happened in Algeria and Berlin at the same time , couldn’t happen in Egypt due to political reasons , All physical spaces were uploading their projects here.

for the 2nd question  : here is my feedback as non programmer.

as @Matthias mentioned either you learn durpal or work with something you know in the 2 days span, so for me it was like a crash course in Durpal , which was really helpful as I wouldn’t have learned how to be familiar with it except for this way and now I am trying to learn more without thinking that it is very complicated ,

before starting the hacking I was expecting that I would help with some visuals and text and it turned out much more better as I wasn’t excluded from the process as a non technical person.

It would have been better if we knew in advance the task and skills of the participants. for example @Matthias was overloaded with work as he was the only one who can do this work so if only there was someone who can help him things could have been much faster and easier.

Also I agree we needed an ending.

another thing which emphasis the harmonies issue , it was really nice to see @Björn_Ekblom 's findings in the hackathon in a session during lote, and wished to know more about the kiderwind in a session , may be I missed it ,

for the 3rd question :

as “follow up is everything” , we need to follow up and continue working on this durpal platform. but generally I prefer more kiderwind-like projects. I am trying to "hack the tape " but searching for more “technical” people here, could be easily integrated  as a track in the next hackathon.

My feedback and closing

  1. Yes, I would, depending on what we would work on. I guess late spring would be good for me.
  2. (I participated in the session "The Ark: saving Edgeryders from the email notification deluge") Right: inclusive approach, with devs, advanced users, designers; relaxed time frame stretched over two days. Wrong: still too ambitious. In the end our two subgroups stonewalled on stuff that only Matthias could do. Doing smaller tasks that get actually finished by the end of the hackathon would have been more rewarding.
  3. Yes: around social network analysis of online communities.

What happens to our feedback now?

Hi guys, sorry it took so long to get back!

I am incorporating them into a the call for action for a harmonious hackathon to take place somewhere in Brussels in connection with the Open Source Circular Economy Days. I was just waiting for the right context which it made sense to refine the format based on what we learned, and put it to the test in service of projects we want to support. Without having to build a whole lote scale activity.

Ping @SamMuirhead