Is The Hackathon (Culture) Losing Its Core?

Hackathons are primarily meant for creation, right?
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Before I get into the details, let’s look at definition of Hackathons:

A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects…Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software. [Wikipedia]

Hackathons are primarily meant for creation – create something sexy, something random and during the entire process of creation, feel/enjoy the tech culture/camaraderie.

Hackathons : The Writing Is On The Wall
Hackathons : The Writing Is On The Wall

What’s Really Happening At Hackathons These Days?
Anything, but creation.
From what I see, most of the hackathons these days have a sole purpose – hiring.
And that defeats the entire purpose of a hackathon. The hackathons these days are more about solving a sponsored problem (mostly, of a well-funded company which is hiring at a mass scale) and is NOT so much about creating something for fun, for the love of code.
Maybe, it’s time for such hackathons to be called hireathons?
And of course, there are hackathons which are done purely from PR point of view – to prove a point (that ‘we are cool’/’we support <x community>’).
The Real Challenges Of Genuie Hackathons
Simple. Nobody wants to sponsor them.
Most of the companies sponsor hackathons from HR budget which translates to RoI expectation (i.e. hackers = potential candidates). There is very little genuine interest in supporting hackathons which are genuinely focused on creation (hackathons cost a lot : venue+good Internet connectivity + breakfast+ lunch + snacks + stay etc).
And hackers don’t pay a lot in entry fee because they often go to other hackathons hireathons for free – so the expectation continues.
There is nobody I am blaming here – but it’s just that the true hackathon culture of building something cool/sexy/not-for-somebody-else is lost in between these hireathons and this isn’t good for the tech culture.
Thoughts?
[Image credit: shutterstock]

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