Hackathons/Handbook/Event Interviews

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All content on this page is from interviews with the 20 event organizers listed in the footnotes. The names and organizations or events or each person interviewed can be found at the bottom of the page in the footnotes section and each quote is associated with a specific person or event.

There are many detailed handbooks and guides to running successful technical events out there. This guide is designed to be used once you have the basics under control. Many event organizers are working to solve the same problems independently from each other so we are attempting to collect some ideas and common themes here. If you would like to discuss any topics on this page further please use the talk page!

See our hackathon guide for more event organization tips, programs and ideas.

This page is the result of a Mozilla Open Leaders project.

Safe Spaces[edit]

Codes of Conduct, Participant Guidelines, inclusion & event safety.

Question: How does your event approach safe space? What are some cultural considerations? What are you still working on solving?


  • Our “Safety team” is there from the beginning of the weekend to the end. They provide emotional safety support and are physical safety first responders. This team of people came out of the participants asking for this resource.  [1]
  • Having a large safety team is important because you can’t ask volunteers to go through the entire conference on duty. They should also be allowed to experience the event and have the space to breathe and take a break. [1]
  • Have a physical location or a room for the safety team to take reports and interact with participants. As an event offers more safety resources you will get more requests for support. [1]
  • We have safety officers. There are multiple ways to contact them. One is associated with Mozilla, and one not. They are different genders. [2]
  • Online in our slack communities. Participation guidelines are pinned to the top of the channel. A bot sends the guidelines right away when you join slack. [3]
  • The Code of Conduct alias is active all year round. Anyone can email the alias which goes to the set of people who can help. [4]
  • Set up a mobile based chat that allows people on your Safe Spaces team to easily find and communicate with each other. [5]
  • Special emergency telegram channel for organizers who would deal with any issues. [6]


  • We did a poster version of the Friendly Space Policy, Our main conference room had small round tables so we put a poster on each table. [7]
  • Put posters all over the event with a shorter version of the Friendly Space Policy, photos of the people who could take reports, and an email address and phone number to call. Both men and women identified to take reports. [6]
  • MozFest participation guidelines are printed in large format on every space floor and translated into 7 languages [3]
  • Print out copies of your policy and have them at reception for people who missed reading it before showing up to the event. You need to communicate the policies in multiple places to ensure that no one can claim missing it. [5]


For your response team

  • The safety team coordinators have been trained in transformative justice, de-escalating conflict, and mediation. We trail our entire safety team and require that they have some previous training and experience. [1]
  • Hold in-person briefings to those on call for reports. What does it mean to be on call? Go over possible scenarios. [8]
  • We have safe space training modules, most of our volunteers do the training modules in advance. [7]
  • Choose your safe spaces team both based on previous experience and training, and also based on trust and reputation within your communities. Provide new training as needed and sync up with your team both by email and in person before the event starts. The team should help define and make changes to the reporting process as needed at each event. [5]
  • Before the event we have an online hangout where we go through everything with volunteers to train them. Volunteers make sure that anyone reporting is safe and then hand them off to the duty officer who has more training. [9]

For your participants

  • Devise a clean avenue of engagement so people are clear on how to help each other and extending the resource into the night time activities. [1]
  • Train participants in the 4 Principles of a safe space: 1) Equalize the space. 2) Check your assumptions. 3) The right to be human. 4) Practice consensual dialogue. [10]


  • Don’t want to turn everyone into police. Make sure people can assume good intent. Help people to not jump to assumptions that someone is harassing especially with cultural differences. [11] 
  • You should change you participant guidelines for each event that you run, adapt it to your audience. [11] 
  • When there is an expected tough workshop or conversation the Safety Team will pre-stage there.  [1]
  • We co-created list of positive behaviors at event with attendees. We also listed behaviors we don’t want to see. This was a small-group icebreaker activity and each submitted the lists of behaviors on Mentee. [7]
  • When the event opens the organizer reads the entire policy out loud to all participants at the event. In a serious voice. Formal speech. Serious issue and please take it seriously. [6]
  • Our code of conduct is part of the registration process [8]
  • Attendees are aware of Participant Guidelines before they arrive. We do things ahead of time and update the website year round. Participant Guidelines are changed to be event specific. We Tweet them out on social media and email them to every participant who has bought a ticket. [3]
  • At the opening of the event we asked one of the participants to do a short story about how she had used the Friendly Space Policy as a support when she had felt harassment. I wanted to do this because I hear people questioning “I have never seen harassment - why are we wasting time and resources on this”[7]
  • We provide safety tips depending on where we are in the world with local knowledge on how to stay safe. [4]
  • We had a duty officer available at all times at the registration table in the main lobby. They stood out by not only having a specific role separating them from the rest of the organizers and volunteers in helping attendees feel safe, but also by their easily identifiable orange shirt. [9]
  • You need to help people remember to be safe and welcoming. Teach community about micro-aggressions and remind them that is not what they want to be doing. Anyone registered to our conference gets added to an online community forum. People can add their own examples. Creating a resource together. All attendees get pointed to this resource. [12]
  • Post your Safe Spaces team’s photos on your events page and identify them in-person at the opening of your event. You should also indicate multiple ways to report (in person, by chat, by phone, by email, by email after the event). [5]
  • I would recommend that organizers don’t just stop at making people aware of the Friendly Space Policy, they need to actually make sure that people know where to go and who to go to.  [13]

Taking Reports and Responding to Problems[edit]

  • We provide a private office space where people can give reports in case someone is uncomfortable.  [13]
  • How do you solve the “happy hour” problem? This is the unsolved problem. You can take alcohol out of the equation, or spread people out throughout the room who can pay attention for any issues. You will need someone who is willing to confront people, but they need to do it away from the group and begin with questioning and understanding the situation. Make sure the data that was reported is correct. “Were you in this situation?” and “Did this happen?”   [11]
  • Organizers need to have a conversation with someone first before reacting to the report. In the majority of the time offense was not intended. [9]
  • We created an incident response plan to go with the Code of Conduct [12]
  • Three people on event staff should discuss any issues before any decisions are made [6]
  • Except in the case of serious emergencies, the Friendly Space team discusses in a private chat and agree upon the next best steps. That way one person’s biases are not dominating the results.  [5]
  • Before you take action it is usually important to run your plan by the reporting party / target to make sure they are comfortable with your approach and decision. [5]
  • All reports should be written up and kept. If the person is at the event on behalf of their employer you should consider reporting serious incidents to their organizations HR team or their direct manager. [5]
  • If there is one person who is being a jerk, kick them out and notify the event. “We need to let everyone know that we had to remove someone from the event, we take this seriously.”  Helps people follow the rules. [11]

Cultural Considerations[edit]

  • Code of conducts can be tone deaf and can create a false sense of security. They are written to presume that people are going to violate them.  The collective ethic is more important. You should communicate that we are here taking care of each other, ask participants to be a collective part of the solution. [11]
  • The development of having friendly space policies comes from the USA. In the USA it is taken much more seriously. It is politicized there. In Europe it is much more recent. People are still kind of learning what this actually means. People are still kind of reasonable. I would try to keep a kind of balance. I trust people that they are able to have normal conversations with each other. Maybe people can work issues out among themselves before conference staff. In 10 years FSP will be standard in German events but for now it feels strange to Germans. [6]
  • It was suggested to have our own friendly space policy for the German speaking groups. [14]
  • American ways of describing or identifying race and ethnicity is an important issue because we never use the term ”race”. The Friendly Space Policy needs to be adapted to the surrounding context instead of using the American model. If I was to organize a German-only conference I would spend more time on contextualizing and adapting it. [6]
  • MozFest also adheres to Mozilla's general code of conduct which was developed by communities around the world. Even for our event’s shortened version we cleared it with an international group. [3]
  • Safe Space policy is part of the Wikimedia Foundation project but it’s not like the Indian way of doing things, here there are a lot of subcultures. Everyone agrees that more diversity is needed. But writing down a code of conduct that works for everyone in India is not easy. [15]
  • It's not just a translation, it’s something we came up with. It was more positively framed and less formulated as prohibitions and rules. We wanted to communicate positively that “this is for you.” [14]
  • In many cases people from outside the United States or who do not belong to a minority group have significant trouble understanding the need for having a Code of Conduct or a Friendly Space Policy. It is important to engage them in conversation and explain instead of reacting negatively to them. Having clear examples of past situations can help to illustrate. [5]
  • The Friendly Space Policy is mostly generic enough, but we also need to bring a bit more local context. When we organized WikiIndaba in 2014 the LGBT community was only starting to be recognized in our country and we had to explain what it means to be friendly. We had to be explicit. [13]
  • Code of Conduct and Friendly Space policies are North American. The language and the way of speaking is foreign. What do you mean when you are listing these things? It is better for events in different countries to create their own policies with more cultural context. I would have liked to use ours.  [7]


  • Language is a deciding factor in India. English becomes the preferred language so there is no favoritism. Hindi people who are not fluent in English can have someone who is good at both English and Hindi translating for them. [15]
  • Detailed note taking and sessions summaries for those who do not speak English as a first language or who are not physically able to be at your event [5]
  • Concept of a mouth: Someone can serve as a mouth for somebody else. Some people don’t want to ask a question in front of a large group. Participants can write something on a paper and then someone else will ask it. [14]
  • Pronoun ribbons for badges. Educate them in advance - and encourage everyone to participate. “This is the norm here at our event.” Try not to “other anyone”. [12]
  • This work is hard to start because you feel like you are doing everything wrong. Its OK and you can’t do everything right and that is understood. You have to show commitment and show action. For us I think a lot of this work has helped make us who we are and be successful. Anything that we have is owed to diversity and inclusion work. [16]
  • It’s not just about saying you have a CoC at the beginning of the event and then having nothing but white men present for the rest of the event. This makes your CoC less meaningful because you show you are not a place that shows by action that you value different perspectives. [16]
  • We are creating space and time for people from different backgrounds to come together and work together. How does it speak to different groups? The communities we want to serve are represented on the stage. Diversity inclusion lense is brought to every piece of the work, we are designing from the ground up as best as we can. [16]
  • We like highlighting diverse, early career voices, while complementing them with leading experts, [16]
  • We work hard to try and identify people with mobility issues, some of our participants are in wheelchairs or crutches. We connect with them in advance and the venue staff can show them easy ways to get through the building. [9]
  • Having quiet/silent working rooms for participants who are introverted or need to get away from noise and socializing has been appreciated. This is especially important if your venue is far from your event’s hotel. [5]
  • We do captioning for some of the theaters. Someone who attended was deaf so we connected with him ahead of time and got a list of sessions that he was interested in and all of those sessions were in a room with captioning. [9]
  • We have a mother's room - private room where people can do breast-pumping and has a fridge. 3-4 mothers using it this year - they became friends. We have assistive listening devices. Main theater or some of the other rooms. We make feminine products available in the women's room. These things send a signal to attendees and people with other needs. [9]

Philosophy / Other[edit]

  • Safe space goes beyond physical safety, extends into how you are experiencing the conference. How much of your opinion and vision can show up in that space.[1]
  • Participant and social media guidelines, are about honoring the place that we are in, the people already in the place doing the work, collective genius. It's important to go back to the intentional root. It is really hard to create a safe space as an addendum. The consideration of that means comes after the creation of that space. We change ours every year. [1]
  • Parties are the most stressful for organizers (in terms of safe space enforcement). [6]
  • We renamed it from the “Policy for Friendly meeting” to “Guidelines for inclusive meetings”. This communicates that we want to have an inclusive meeting - then we can define how do we actually include each other. This was divided into “why do we need inclusive meetings” and “How is this connected to the diversity policy”. Then we have a list of “how to include each other” and “how to make everyone’s contributions valuable” and then it has some paragraphs about harassment. [7]
  • There was no room for anyone to question why we want to have inclusive communities. This is at the core of what we are doing. [7]
  • The work of creating a safe space and helping attendees to feeling included starts way before the event actually happens and continues quite significantly after the event (dealing with cases, working through things). This is a significant allocation of time spent dealing with issues that come up. We don’t think this is because we are a nasty community but because we do so much work in this area - encouraging people to report - we end up with a lot to deal with. [16]
  • A lot of the Safe Spaces work requires a team effort but also a lot of inward reflection, analysis, and personal growth. For most people, the process of learning how to create safe and inclusive spaces require those people to look internally as well, which is not very easy. We don’t talk about this enough externally but it’s good for event organizers to talk about. [16]
  • (Creating a Safe Space) Sometimes changing the thing that you are and really looking deeply at understanding what you are doing and the structure that you are building will be uncomfortable and involve changing significant parts of what you do. We understand deeply what we are trying to do and are mindful. This is a process that event organizers who are less mindful don’t always see. [16]
  • We have seen that the community feels special to people who are generally marginalized because we pay attention to this (Safe Spaces), even if we don’t always get it right there is clearly a focus. Starting this work is difficult because you realize how complex the problem is, how many mistakes you have made and how much there is left to do. [16]
  • Code of Conducts make some people feel uncomfortable and this is something to recognize. When privileged people who don’t feel like they need protection all of a sudden have rules of how they can conduct themselves. This can cause anxiety. Any mistake can make you feel guilty and worry. [16]
  • We didn’t have any reports made during our conference. However, we are aware that this is not necessarily a measure of success, and that the attention of events organizers should be focused on providing a safe atmosphere during a conference, to make sure that no problematic behavior happens. [17]
  • A motivation for creating your own policy: if you come up with your own policy you need to more actively engage in the whole topic. If you just sign off on someone else's policy then you don’t think about it as much. [14]

Pre-Event Engagement[edit]

Encourage participant excitement, planning and participation before your event starts.

Question: For events that you have either organized or attended, what works to engage attendees before the event itself?

Outreach and Motivation[edit]

  • Google Summer of Code does not start until March but we do outreach all year. Outreach to students. Former students do outreach in their communities. Have flyers, slide decks, videos, etc. as resources for students to share. [18]
  • Participate in other events that take place before yours. Suggest or send our speakers to their events. Send speakers around to different cities in the region. Spread the word. [19]
  • Go to other cities and talk at conferences. Get teachers at universities to spread the word. [18]
  • Word of mouth is the best method. Someone telling the story of “This changed my life” is the best way to spread the word. [18]
  • Previous students help with outreach. It is self motivated and happens naturally. We see people participating because their friend did it or their brother or neighbor gained skills from the program. Finding passion they did not realize that they had. [18]
  • For specific session types, certain demographics are most likely to sign up so we reach out actively to others so they know that they are welcome. In a participant driven meeting all participants feel like they can create a space at the meeting and feel like they are welcome to. [16]
  • Some people just go in for the t-shirt but stay because of the community and the experience. [18]
  • Provide resources for participants on how to get their job to send them to the conference or to find other funding. [1]

Communicate and sharing about the event[edit]

  • Before the event identify outcomes, build a narrative that buttresses the outcome. We have done “x”, we have not done “y”, here is what you can do. Tell the story: How did we get here? Where are we trying to go? How does this event get us there? What can you do?  [11]
  • Publish the tracks or themes as early as possible. Themes are published 7 months before the conference. So people can already think about what this means and what kind of event they might be attending. [6]
  • Short, quick, and informative videos. People don’t like to read documentation. [18]
  • One of the design principles of OpenCon - “3 days event does not begin on day 1 and does not end on day 3”. The year round work is resourced more heavily than the year end meeting. [16]
  • The week before the event we had daily emails to everyone including the different ways to engage before the event. Suggesting different kinds to sessions they can do. Signing up and taking part in a workshop. Get to know the topic and how you would be taking it on. We did ad-hoc webcasts. Open education webcast. Design thinking webcast in response to what people wanted and we happened to have a slide deck. [16]
  • Send only one thoughtful and simple email a week to attendees leading up to the conference. [8]
  • Make sure people attending understand the main topics and think about them before. Make sure that they get authority from your organization to make statements and decisions on the topics. [6]
  • Post photos of keynotes, the organizing team, the program committee, and of past events to help give people a sense of what the event will be like and who might be there [5]


  • Webinars online in advance of the conference. Presenter guidelines, set a baseline for the event. We are excited that you are coming! [1]
  • MozFest House is a pre-week event. It is a real opportunity to develop the event further. It is a week long in a different venue. It allows for: longer conversations, hackathons, meetups. [3]
  • Community calls with participants, work hard at getting new people to say ANYTHING. A word. Hello. Intros. The first barrier to contributing is the first time talking. Lesson there: create opportunities to find others. [16]
  • Organize small local/regional preparation meetings before the conference. People who are not attending the main conference can send others to the conference on a mission with something to do. [14]
  • Many small regional or connected events in advance of our large yearly hackathon. Send those who worked hard and made a significant difference at the small events to the large one both as a reward and to continue the good work. [5]
  • People participating in pre-event collaboration are “time privileged people” and those people may set a tone for the event that you are not looking for or take up a lot of space. Front-line hardworking people are not likely to have much time to pre-engage.  [11]

Session and schedule preparation[edit]

  • Many online programs lead to MozFest and everything ended at MozFest. “Your project is your session” [2]
  • Community call with all session organizers on the phone. [8]
  • Many attendees at MozFest are facilitators. A few months in advance - they're building traction. Github discussion through the summer after the call for proposals are closed. [3]
  • Sessions are selected or rejected or merged. We tweak them to make them more participatory, help the session leaders frame ideas.  Space wranglers help refine everything.
  • When the curation is finished in September then there is a whole lot of facilitator training. Guidebook, workshops, trainings. 1:1 coaching. [3]
  • Try to avoid bringing too many people into the decision making. Don’t have an open call for “what do you want to do at the conference” this can causes more chaos than anything else.
  • Program Committee should making decisions. Program Committee members can help by preparing participants for the conference and prepare for quality participation. [7]
  • We tried to really reach out to people in advance, directly asked people or teams to run these skill sharing sessions. [7]
  • More preparation will be done if people need to work together. If people run sessions alone they are more likely to wait until the night before or the day of. [5]
  • Work with user groups and put out a call for papers and attendees. Open source community groups share the same vision. We rely on the organizers of other groups to find papers and topics for us. [19]
  • We have a Content Team who organizes our call for speakers. They prepare and detail topics that we are looking for. They reference how we would like the speakers to do their submissions. They connect with people and experts to improve their topics.
  • Everyone on the content team is technical and each person on the team is in charge of a different area. [19]


  • Reading list which is editable by participants and has relevant books for each topic of the event. Pre-event “airplane reading”. [10]
  • Presenters might say “in order to get the most out of this session, read this article first”. [12]
  • We came up with technical tasks (example: set up mediawiki locally and send a screenshot.) Only those that completed this task or had a good attempt were invited to the conference. Showed commitment. [20]
  • During the application process people have to propose a project. Which was an improvement on just inviting people who were well known community members. People who were invited ended up spending the day figuring out what they were going to do. People who applied with a project already put thought into it. [2]

Individual Support / 1 on 1[edit]

  • Before the event, email each participant of the event individually and ask them questions. It is both for your understanding, helps with participant buy-in, and is a negotiation between yourself and the participants. This can be done for events even up to 300 people and the time up front is worth the effort. Questions: Here are the event goals, do they look right? What is going to make your time at this event well spent? (this is the critical question) What should we talk about? What do you think we are going to argue about? Do you have any questions or concerns? [11] 
  • Mandatory questions about event intentions included in registration. [6]
  • When people register, ask them: “is there a project you want to work on”. [2]
  • Ask participants in advance: “what do you expect to take home with you?” Get the attendees own perception. Some of them were a particular strategy or tool. The people, the relationships, the network. [8]
  • Get on the phone with influencers and problem cases.  [11]
  • When the Open Con starts is when you are accepted. A bunch of people reach out to you and try to get you to think about what your goals are. Have conversations. We follow up with people who don’t do the pre-meeting activities. [16]
  • Travel is booked by people who attended the meeting. The first person you communicate with is the travel person and we want this person to be not an external agency but someone from “the family” so we control communications even more. [16]
  • Have an easy way for participants to ask the organizers questions. Talk page, chat group, organizers email list, etc. [5]
  • How to prepare people in advance is really hard question because people have different working styles [8]

Communication among participants[edit]

  • Telegram group talking to each other two weeks before the conference. Works really well. They answer questions to each other that the organizers would otherwise need to answer. [6]
  • Connecting newcomers and experienced ones. Match them based on the registration form. They can already start talking before the conference.
  • They meet in person the evening before the conference.
  • Buddy system - overwhelming support and approval. Everyone said that they would do it again [6]
  • Create a user profile in Sched so that participants can share details about themselves with other participants. [10]
  • Ask for user names, interests, IRC nicks in registration. Ask for permission share these details among participants. [5]
  • "Let’s all introduce ourselves." This thread runs throughout the whole event. [12]
  • "Things to do in the city" thread where participants can self-organize sightseeing.  [12]
  • Our post event survey indicated that the Facebook group should have been opened sooner. [7]
  • Connecting people in advance on Facebook. People can use it do things like to make plans, schedule informal gatherings, and see who else is coming from their hometown. [1]

Building Excitement[edit]

  • To some extent pre-conference engagement is post-conference engagement. We will have people excited from last year who keep the excitement up. [4]
  • Speaker series helps attract interest - share speakers in the early fall and get people thinking about how they can participate. [3]
  • People were excited about sightseeing - biggest thing that they were excited about. Organizers helped plan sightseeing and the event team built an extra day into the conference for that. [13]


Communicating with your participants or helping them to communicate with each other.

Question: Which communication tools do you use at or before events to help enable participants to to engage with each other? Which communication tools do you use to communicate to attendees?

Social Media[edit]

  • Use social media to allow people to tell their stories and then uplift their ideas. [1]
  • Twitter is very popular. Once the curation closes we see a lot of people tweeting their session times and screen shotting things. See people connecting. [3]
  • Social media / emailings, add pictures of swag. [14]
  • Sharing news about the logos we designed, the goodies, etc. was also very engaging on the social networks. [17]
  • We do a lot of social media, and do it differently in different countries throughout SE Asia or Asia. There are many popular channels, and different countries are big on different social medias. [19]


  • We had a fest wide Slack - we started it later than we wanted to. More community moderation needed. [3]
  • Slack moderators: Main moderators are thoughtful, it takes months to get up and running. They need lots of experience to encourage/help good communication. [2]
  • Slack has been the game changer for us. It is one of the biggest things that has changed the conference for the better and allows people to find other people that they have shared interest with and make plans. We open that up 3-4 weeks before the conference. We delay as long as we can - because we need to monitor/moderate it. [9]
  • Low barrier communications channels. Telegram group before the event. [14]
  • Organizers attend multiple events together. DebConf, FOSDEM, etc. We spend lots of time together on IRC where there is low key running commentary on life throughout the year. You bond because there is a low key continuing presence.  [4]


  • Now we do nightly emails about what is going to happen the next day. [16]
  • Events should have a #hashtag and a Wikimedia Commons category [5]
  • We use different communications with different types of people. Identify newcomers and divide people into cohorts. Categories: New, not new but not involved, rock stars. Outreach to those different groups differently. [16]
  • The etherpad lists and signups create a light way for people to connect. [8]

Co-creating events[edit]

Empower and work with your attendees to make a better event for everyone.

Question: Is there anything you do to help empower attendees to become organizers and feel ownership for the event?

Cultural sharing[edit]

  • Sticker swap. [12]
  • Coffee Hacking stations: people bring coffee from their homes to share and teach people how to make it. There is a year round etherpad where people can list and discuss what they are planing to bring. [8]
  • People bring games from their home to share at pre-conference event. Also added to etherpad. [8]
  • Attendee organized outings and social events organized on etherpad. [8]
  • Cheese and wine is a big tradition - gained a life of its own. This has turned into a big cultural exchange. [4]

Event flexibility[edit]

  • We welcomed all spontaneous initiatives, for example this volunteer that proposed to create balloons sculptures during the event. I said yes, encouraged him, provided the material for him, and found some other volunteers to help him achieve his task.  [17]
  • Organizers spend most of the time making changes on the fly at the event. [3]
  • Emergent sessions - if you turn up and you want to continue a conversation or keep a session going you can. [3]
  • Physically change spaces to accommodate needs and sessions. [3]
  • Lots of activities - lots of people doing different things. Artists, music, young people. Needs overlap or clash so always helping people get what they need. [3]
  • Supply table full of stickers, post-its, color pens, note pads, etc. for participants to use as needed. [5]


  • Physical sign up board for “things to do Friday night” organized and lead by attendees. [8]
  • It’s possible when you are mentally expecting smaller number of participants and you want a higher level of commitment. Large events are about how well you know your audience.
  • One thing I have found common - committees are 10-12 strong but only 4-5 of them are actually involved. [15]
  • In some countries it is illegal to give specific jobs to volunteers / foreigners. Anything related to health, safety, first-aid, or directing people within venues. [13]
  • Many participants want to help. Have easy pre-designated options for them to choose from during registration and at the conference itself: write a blog, take and upload photos, welcome newcomers, session documentation. [5]

Un-conference style sessions / spaces[edit]

  • Developer Rooms are unscheduled places where people can carry on the conversation with a smaller group. Facilitate a space where people have these conversations. [19]
  • Birds of a feather lunch: People suggest topics and each topic gets a table. This help people with finding places to sit at lunch. [12]
  • Organizers hosted our own unconference session at our event about helping people get started with the “do-athon”. It was a help session but we also used this as a session to listen to participants. Where was the event connecting with people and where was it not connecting with people? We sat down mid-event and made changes to the “do-athon” program. [16]
  • If people can’t find people to work with or could not use Github we had time where we could help. [16]
  • Put up blank table signs and markers so that people can indicate what they are working on or talking about making it easier for others to join in. [5]
  • All event work is done by volunteering participants and their families. We hold a cheese event and serve a ton of cheese. This helps to engage +1s (partners / kids, etc) people can become “Cheese mistress”.  [4]

Measuring Success[edit]

Metrics and measurements to show that your event was a success.

Question: How do you track your event’s contributions to your project, movement, or effort after an event?


  • Survey: did you start or join an initiative at the conference ? This means at least there was a constant exchange. Did you make new friends? These are kind of vanity metrics. [6]
  • The hardest to measure but best is trying to understand what grows out of the festival? Startups? Projects? Inspiration for projects? Work open? Stories. [3]
  • People self-reporting what they learned in surveys. [2]
  • Stories and anecdotes - interview series on the Mozilla blog.[2]
  • Showing a positive learning curve, take-aways, and measuring if people would come again. These are the best metrics for organization and external stakeholders. [14]
  • Ones that we really care about: Impact stories. Loose collection of types of outputs. Where we can draw that directly to something we have done. Where others draw a connection to something that we did for them or with them. Sometimes this is whole organizations being founded and growing. Sometimes it is someone having a really meaningful change in their outlook on a problem or on themselves. Sometimes people going and working on a policy and it getting accepted. All shapes and sizes. We don’t have an internal definition - we will take anything that is an impact story [16]
  • In our feedback surveys we ask lots of optional-to-answer open ended questions about improving various parts of our event and how new programs should be improved. The responses to these questions have had major impact in re-shaping our events over time. [5]


  • Metrics: Race, Gender, number of small news organizations in attendance [8]
  • The number of participants does not have to grow. It’s not always a measure of success. [3]
  • Success measures: Range in voices / Diversity. People that change roles. Attendee -> facilitator -> space wrangler. People come back and reinvent the festival in a new capacity. [3]
  • Reports. How many commits were there? How many patch sets were pushed? Our hackathon for beginners is different than usual hackathons because we are looking at code contributions, not to build something shiny. [20]
  • Indicators: Number of attendees and speakers. Number of people coming from communities in major cities. (We try to connect with as many communities in Asia as possible.) Members of leading communities. The number of businesses and enterprises. [19]
  • Award for the hackathon & press coverage. Can show that to sponsors. Anything that sheds a positive light or positive image to stakeholders. [14]
  • Validating numbers: the number of tweets and impressions. 180 people involved in the application process. 100 alum helped to curate. 5,000 people have attended Open Con branded events in the last few years. 600 people have been to community calls in the last 6 months and they are from X backgrounds and most of them comeback. Etc. [16]
  • When talking to funders - we use a lot of numbers. Tweets show excitement generated at the event and how far it reaches out. These numbers exist year round. [16]
  • We always like to end our feedback surveys with the questions (ranked 1-5) "attending this event was worth my time" and "I would like to attend this event next year" and track these statistics year-to-year [5]
  • Every final report we have has statistics. Some of them are quite joke-y. For example in 2016 we had “how many people arrived with blue hair, how many people left with blue hair”, “People brought this much booze to the cheese and wine event”, “People consumed this many dinners”. [4]

Event Follow-Up[edit]

Assign action items, support efforts, and give feedback to participants and speakers.

Question: When working with volunteers, how do you follow up after events and sessions to make sure ideas or action items are accomplished beyond the event itself?


  • Ask if people want their names and emails shared after the event. It's opt-in. [10]
  • Follow up with all local people who attended. If we were at a German speaking event, then Wikimedia Austria will follow up with all Austrians in attendance. [14]
  • After events attendees want: Grants, time and mentors and skills [16]
  • Email scholarship recipients after the event. They are highly engaged people and can often be engaged in multiple things. [8]
  • Use the conference as a recruitment opportunity for our chapter groups that have events every month. This event is continued through non-profit tech clubs. [12]

Action items / next steps[edit]

  • After the event document and disseminate outputs, the sooner you get the notes out the better.
  • Make sure that before you say goodbye it’s clear who owns the action items.  [11]
  • Before the event ends, remind people of: Concrete follow ups. Next milestones. Meeting again and talk about their progress. Hand in something. Have a next event. Having milestones for concrete points is the best idea. [14]
  • In the end we had a “next steps” session which could have been more complete. Announce commitments. Or have people sign up. [7]
  • Since 2015 we have identified major and main topics and have found ambassadors for each topic. There are about 7-8 major topics and there are working groups and staff engaged about the topics. Relying on these people to continue the topics but have regular meetings with the owners to see what they are doing. [6]
  • If we need something from them (survey, slides, etc.): pinging them again and again until we get what we want. [17]


  • You need to observe what excited people and then understand why it excites them. Push them in a direction that's helpful, good, or nice to have. Hard to work with non-existent excitement. Try to put the momentum into action. [14]
  • On the last day of the event we bring people to the local hacker-space to start getting work done [19]
  • Some people don’t do much and that’s ok, but some of them wait a year and then do something. [16]
  • Ask people if they want to be an expert and drop in and teach something at future events.[2]
  • Asking people if they want to be a cohort host or on the email list or involved in the global sprint. Get recommendations from their mentor. [2]
  • There are demo calls so everyone can all talk to each other, we sometimes demo things later that were not complete at the end of the program / event. [2]
  • Small funding for projects that come out of your event or fitting them into existing programming. We try to look out for things that we can fit into programs that we already have planned. New smaller events have come out of bigger events. [8]
  • Follow up meetings with volunteer managers from the community to help continue the work [6]
  • Announce other things and projects that are looking for contributors and looking for collaboration. [19]
  • After the event we highlight the work that participants are doing. Spend a lot of time talking with the media and communicating what participants have done. We put together a nice reflection where people can check out perspectives & storytelling. [1]
  • Some of our hackathons go late into the evening. There might be some good students who really wanted to hack on some things. Organizers stay with motivated people after the hackathon ends. [20]


  • Feedback survey was available before the last day of the conference. We set aside the last section of the conference for people to write during that time. [13]
  • Every session at the conference has a session evaluation. [12]
  • We sent a survey 3 months later and got good responses. We had a 80-90% response rate because our participants were so invested in our event. [13]
  • Only run feedback surveys if you are willing and/or able to change your event. Don't waste people's time asking about things you won't change [5]


  • Send a thank you note to speakers and ask for feedback specifically for speakers. [19]
  • In our feedback surveys we always ask who at the event (or which sessions) should be recognized for their hard or good work or participation, and especially when a person is mentioned multiple times we send personalized emails with quotes to that person thanking them for their contribution and impact. [5]
  • Send gifts and or thank-you notes to people whose effort made a big difference in the event. [5]
  • If people contributed to your event while representing their organization on top of their regular job, send a thank you to their manager and explain the positive impact that the person had. [5]

Post-Event Engagement[edit]

Use your event as a catalyst, encouraging participation and enabling work after the event ends.

Question: For events that you have either organized or attended, what works to engage attendees after the event itself?

Media / Stories[edit]

  • Narrative - declare victory! Write your post-event narrative in advance and then adapt it to reflect the actual event. [11]
  • Report back to the community via blog posts. Wins and fails. What we hope to do next year. [12]
  • Give publicity to students and then that can attract similar people. [18]
  • Our newsletter has a summary of event statistics. [9]
  • Create a wiki page for coverage of the conference after the conference. Links to pictures, videos, slides, blogs, articles. Wiki so others can add to it. Collect tweets and send them out. [9]
  • People share their event experiences on Source. [8]
  • Summary of the event after the event, which was sent to attendees and around social media to help people learn that we are having these conversations and get involved. Help attendees to think about the issues again. [10]
  • We retweet people who keep using the hashtag. Recently have tried to do more of this. [8]
  • In general: sharing pictures, reviews, blog posts, continuing using the private jokes created during the event. [17]

Other events[edit]

  • Identify which other conferences your attendees go to and hold a follow up session there. [10]
  • Hold meetings at other events that mirror the meetings of your event, try and bring back the same energy. [1]
  • Build bridges to other conferences - Wikimedia Conferences is a silo event - “lets carry on the conversation: Wikimedia Conference follow up day” host workshops to continue this conversation. Further engage around. Conferences should be the climax of engagement. Conferences should show what they have done. Conferences without any connection are useless. Getting people all on the same page takes one or two days.  Lots of time and start up cost. [6]
  • Attach small events to other larger events even if they are not organized by your organization. Meetups, or small meetings.
  • Students can give lightning talks about what they worked on at other events and answer questions about their experience.. [18]

Opportunities / Actions[edit]

  • We spend a lot of energy keeping people involved. We have more women involved every year and watch the number of students who go from being students to mentors. It is important to have pathways through the program. [18]
  • One of the things that is a real challenge is having a concrete call to action. Something that is relevant to everyone. Leaving “we would like for you to do this” We try to have just one thing. Not make it “here are 7 things to do”. [8]
  • We had a survey this summer around the time of Source Con and sent the survey to attendees. Asking them to fill out the survey. Shapes our work and others work. Was a nice concrete call to action. (call to action to help with something else within your mission) [8]
  • At the opening of the conference we decided as a group that we would create a list of three things that each individual would like to do before the next conference. This would be logged and documented. On the last day of the conference as part of the survey we asked for the three things that they would like to achieve. At the end of 6 months that person would be sent a note and reminded of their list. Less than 50 people attend so it has been easy to track. [13]
  • We get a lot of folks who come to the conference as a presenter who are new to the community, but they don’t necessarily know the nten community. So we encourage presenters to turn their content into a blog post, apply for a faculty position or to be involved in a more year round way through online courses. [12]
  • The key is to have multiple offerings that fit different lifestyles that tie back to mozfest. Multiple ways to engage around what they are passionate about. We help build those out in meaningful ways. [3]

Knowledge Sharing[edit]

  • Train people at your conference to go back home and teach others new skills / get them interested. [6]
  • Fund a smaller workshop in the future for participants.[10]
  • Informal local follow-up events to give their impressions. If they went to a large event they can come back to the community and talk about anything they like. Blogpost, highlights, pictures, presentation. [14]

Events online[edit]

  • Community calls are one of the most successful ways that we keep people in contact and keep the feeling alive. The community call changes every month. Sharing updates on work. Asking for help. Speakers from the community. Feedback. Getting people to talk. This is the hardest place to facilitate communication / discussion. They are hard and scary but they make OpenCon important. Creates a space for people to come together and talk about topical stuff. [16]
  • Invite folks to our community call. Talk about experiences. Document sessions, process, and share it. [8]
  • Presenters should remain and contribute in the forums or present at their local groups. [12]
  • For post engagement we have lots of entry points: We ask them to be in the working open cohort, the open leadership program, a global sprint or a fellowship program. We are looking for people to step-up into new roles. [3]


  • Event organizers [often] think of an event as a finish line to cross and not a springboard. [11]
  • Post event engagement can not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people may be excited to continue and others may not become involved again until just before your next event. [1]
  • Sessions can continue event to event. Build on each other over time. [8]
  • If people don’t have time and headspace then you can keep trying but the message has been received and people are not there. It would be nice, but if it takes a lot of effort and if people start feeling bad maybe its backfiring. [8]
  • We don’t see MozFest as an end, it’s just one stop in the year. [3]

Mentoring Programs[edit]

Help grow your communities knowledge, skill, and relationships with mentoring and buddy programs.

Question: Have you seen or experienced any successful in-person mentoring programs? What made them successful? Where could they have been improved?

Developing programs[edit]

  • Important to develop your mentoring programs  with your target groups (mentors and people who can have the opposite perspective). Prototype it and test it with different stakeholder groups. Apart from that, keep it an open process with constant feedback loops and flexibility. This comes naturally to Wikimedians (never have a finished project) but you should approach programs like that also. Concept wont be perfect the first time and you don’t have to stick to the original plan. [14]
  • After introducing them to “what is open,” people get big plans. But then things fizzle. Keeping accountability. Now that you have gone through a “wow,” what are your goals? This strengthens their ties with Mozilla. Get to know them on a regular basis. It helps to meet in person. [2]
  • We are hoping to start “speed mentoring” and bring in a handful of experts that are already in the community. “This is the job that I have” matched with “I want to have a similar job”. Resume review and sit with someone. [12]
  • Making sure that you have projects that are well defined. “Ideas page” is the most important part of the page for applying organizations. [18]
  • Make sure there is documentation on the very basic stuff. If you get frustrated doing the basics you won't want to continue, [18]
  • We have not done much in terms of 1:1, it’s a crapshoot. It’s like dating and can match them up with someone they didn’t like. Less formal lunch is better, a bunch of people at a table. [9]
  • I wanted to test if unconscious bias trainings had impact. One cohort didn’t go over unconscious bias training and one did. It is a good idea to do training on unconscious bias. [2]

Supporting mentors[edit]

  • Allow for easy outs and make it clear that someone can fill in for them. [2]
  • Ask people to be a mentor for every round and make sure they opt-in every time - don’t just assume people will be willing to mentor again if they have in the past. Check in if they still want to continue mentoring part way through. [2]
  • Mentors don’t want to only mentor, but also the mentors should be free and enabled to develop something cool and do some of their own work. [20]
  • Mentoring training should be lightweight in the beginning. We follow the GROW model which is a coaching framework. Give people the space to practice it and model it for them. [2]

Online Mentoring[edit]

  • 12 weeks is a good time frame - not too far but far enough to be ambitious. Every other week check-ins are good. Once a month is not good enough. [2]
  • 1:1 online mentoring can be a problem, every time I am mentoring someone else its from my personal experience. It makes it hard for mentors to continue. And causes a lot of burn out. It can be a thankless job. No guarantee that the mentee will continue. [15]
  • One thing that worked in online mentoring of “how to edit on online wikipedia”: A mentor made a mentorship program where he wrote modules for mentees. Many people learned and the teacher didn’t have to reteach the basics over and over. [15]
  • During your mentoring program midpoint surveys are a good idea to do. Check a lot around the mentorship relationship because you can’t really see it. Are meetings actually happening? [2]

Good mentoring  [edit]

  • Three criteria to be a good mentor: 1) they want to work in the open. 2) availability; time and bandwidth. 3) Teachability needed for both mentor and mentee. This is important. [2]
  • Longer term mentoring programs should both teach and build community, we do mentoring in the mornings and social events in the afternoon for example. [14]
  • Advice: make sure you have the mentor capability. Not everyone should be a mentor. Some people think they should be mentors but might not be an effective teacher. Mentors should want to teach and want to help people learn. If you are a good mentor the student is also teaching you. Student will ask a question that you don’t know the answer to - you can figure it out together. [18]

Bad mentoring[edit]

  • Biggest problems are when the mentor is not organized or responsive. If they don’t attend meetings. [2]
  • If mentors are not willing to listen to feedback, they probably won't be helpful. [2]
  • It is a mistake to sit around and telling people things one by one. People lose their skills of asking in a public channel. It’s not good to answer questions privately. [20]
  • If you try to solve everyone's problems yourself you get worn out. Ask them to get help from a public place. Mentors don’t want to teach the same thing over and over. [20]

Newcomer Support[edit]

Help newcomers to feel comfortable, welcome, and ready to participate at your event.

Question: What are some ways you have seen event organizers support newcomers before, during and after events?

Welcoming atmosphere[edit]

  • You have to feel welcomed to make friends. You need to put everyone at the same hotel. Party. Shared snacks & candy from home country. City tour. You also provide space for spontaneous meetings. [6]
  • Event design is focused on networking. Long meals, social activities, ways to get to know people. All of the events are kept small on purpose. [8]
  • Games, walks, knitting, lightning talks, etc. Structured and accessible in different ways. Speed dating version of meeting people. [8]
  • Communicate that making silly mistakes is ok! Have mentors tell their own story to communicate that anybody can make it from zero to anything.  [20]
  • Event team should have a “connector” role for connecting people. Watching out for people. Introducing people. Well connected people introducing newcomers to others and being the social fabric at an event or at a group. Outgoing people as a buffer to protect from the emotional labor that not everyone can do. [14]
  • Go above and beyond to help newbies - We have a lot of non-profit people who feel like they don’t belong in the space. When you come to a big event it’s easy to feel like an impostor and an outsider, so it's important to help them feel like they are welcome and they belong. [12]
  • Buddy program: connect people who are new and feel like they want extra support in making friends with people who have attended at least 1 other conference. Being a buddy to a newcomer is a low rung on the ladder to get involved and a way to help. [12]
  • Central hub for all things nten - exhibit booth - in the exhibit hall. It’s about the organization. Recruit volunteers from the community to talk about programs and train them to go over and out of the way to be friendly and swooping in people. If someone is standing alone. Helping people know that they are in the right place. [12]
  • Let people know about the pac-man rule: when you are talking in a circle make sure you leave space open so someone else can join the circle physically. [12]
  • No one eats alone rule. Normalizing that attendees should go out of their way to find people who are alone and invite them into their party. [12]
  • Make sure they are not alone and don’t feel alone. We make it clear that most people there are first timers and that they are new. Make sure they understand that others around them are new as well. [16]
  • Newcomers who email with questions are invited to come say hi at the front desk. [4]
  • At registration you have to care. You can’t just check people in. You have to engage with everyone. You have to want to try to solve people’s problems. If somebody had never done front desk before they should probably not just jump right in. [4]
  • Use back channels to talk to the newcomers personally. See how they feel about the event. Honest feedback. Talk to them in an informal setting and collect feedback from sessions. [15]
  • Identify and explain what are the places where newcomers don’t understand or where everyone's in on an inside joke. This can make people feel really left out. [15]
  • Create a “home room” for newcomers. Come and get to know the event and ask the advisory board, organizers, or long term attendees anything. [1]

Newcomer activities[edit]

  • Newcomers meet the first night they are in town [10]
  • Give people activities to do that will create conversations. Natural ice breakers. Structured lunch conversations, if you have the impulse to just open your laptop you can go to a conversation and not look so awkward. Pretending that you are participating is a helpful tool. [8]
  • Ice breaker games - wherever you can build that in. DiversityCon and WikidataCon had bingo cards (File:WikidataCon bingo grids.pdf), you run around and looked for people with various things on the card. [14]
  • Have local volunteers to take people out to pubs or cultural places. Everyone should be in one location and enjoy a show or performance. [19]
  • Encourage self organized events. Soccer games, runs in the morning, normalize that you should invite other people and this is where you post that so other people can join in. [12]
  • Story circles help people find other people. Tell their story and get to know other people. Have someone to sit with over lunch. [16]
  • Attendees who have been to Strange Loop a bunch of times go to a lunch with people who are there for the first time. Friendly face in the crowd. [9]
  • We have spent a lot of time working on how to give the grantees a good experience. Typically they are going to an event without anyone they know.  Very specific first day details and organized group meals. They can have roommates if they want or join the “guide program” and get matched with another participant. [9]

Extra help / Small steps[edit]

  • Make sure the resource people stay after the event. I have been part of some hackathons that started early and then by the evening (or scheduled finish) everyone who organized just left. This does not help because there were students who were really shy to get things clarified. It would be great if they are around a little bit more time and spend some 1:1 time with the participants. [20]
  • A Wikimedian came to India to talk about wikidata. He had no expectations from any of the participants at all. They didn’t have to know anything. His first session (2-3 hours) making sure everyone is up to speed on wikidata and why wikidata. Then he gave easy things that we could do in the meantime to edit wikidata right there and then. [15]
  • If you start with sessions with expectations of knowledge then you will lose people quickly. They will try to pay attention and quickly lose interest and leave.  You need to be aware of what they want and what they know.  Understanding is important. Understanding what they feel about the project.  If people feel left out or do not understand - my biggest responsibility then becomes trying to figure out the sort of things that can help make them more engaged. Any activity to try and get their attention and interest back. [15]
  • Have separate registration help desks and technical help desks. People can go to registration with logistics request and can go to your technical help desk for questions about your projects or to talk with developers [5]

Documentation / Questions[edit]

  • Newcomer guides: 10 things you need to know as newcomer.  [1]
  • We teach newcomers to ask questions on IRC. Rather than making someone sit next to them. [20]
  • If newcomers want to contribute in projects - every single project is on Gitter channel and if newcomers have any questions in the channels they can go have a direct conversation with the mentors. (every project has its own channel) [19]
  • Provide tips for starting conversations, this helps to normalize that it’s awkward for some people to do. Give ideas! Don’t just start with “what do you do” but find ways that are more inclusive. [12]
  • Tips for how to use social media at a conference so they don’t feel left behind. [12]
  • Have clear documentation about what your event is and what is actually going to happen there. So many event's don't have this written clearly anywhere because they assume people already know. If newcomers can not figure out what to expect they are likely to not come at all. [5]


  • New people have not drunk the kool aid and are not co-opted into thinking that what you are doing is a good idea. [11] 
  • Newcomers get excited because of a story - they want to hear about what is going on and how it relates to them. Once they are excited about it they like having cohort support. They are not the only one trying to work open in the world. Friendship and connections with people who are a bit more experienced and connected. [2]
  • If you are running a newcomer program, tell people in advance to join public get-help IRC channels so that they can get mentoring support from the international community. [20]
  • Ask people who are new to raise their hand. Then instruct those that are not raising their hand’s find someone to talk to who is raising their hand and make sure to talk to them by the end of the day.  [11]


Tips for productive sessions.

Question: How does your event approach session facilitation? Is it even possible to have a large group discussion in a session?

Who Facilitates?[edit]

  • 20% of your attendees should be facilitators, and newcomers can also facilitate [11]
  • Facilitators who have facilitated before can get someone to co-facilitate who has not facilitated in the past. [8]
  • The facilitator needs to know the audience. Communication skills required. They can’t be socially awkward. They need to understand when people want to speak and when people have not spoken. [15]
  • Facilitators should understand the community but not be too heavily involved. For example, they can give the story and background and what her contribution to wikimedia has been. [7]

Guidance and training for Facilitators[edit]

  • Guidance for facilitators: we all suffer from the impostor syndrome that causes you to do insecure things. Forgive yourself. Don’t feel like you need to prove yourself up front. [11]
  • Advise facilitators to narrow the scope of their presentations. It’s very tough to get anything done when talking about a broad idea. [8]
  • Make sure moderators have guidance on what to do during difficult conversations where people are not able to come to a common understanding at all. [10]
  • Allow moderators to be flexible with timing, if a topic is going well then they can extend the session. If it’s not they can cut it short. [10]
  • Facilitators are asked to reflect in advance on what they hope people will walk away from your session having learned or experienced. [8]
  • MozFest has coaching for facilitators. It depends on who comes. Friday has facilitator training. Make posters for sessions & work with space wranglers. Working open training. [3]
  • Facilitator's guidebook has suggestions for making it a participatory session for a large number of people. How can you break up into small groups? How can you have small breakout conversation then report back to the larger group? [3]
  • Challenges: people’s facilitation skills are low. So we produced guides for basic facilitation skills. Finding good people to facilitate is the crux. There are pre- and post-meeting components - it took hundreds of hours for us to prepare. [16]
  • We have a preparation guide for speakers which has tips for how to facilitate discussion with audience, encourage questions, what to do when someone asks a question, tips on making sure that audience members don’t dominate the room, and how to make your slides more engaging and accessible. [12]

Support for facilitators[edit]

  • Connect facilitators with each other as a resource. If they practice their session with colleagues then they get a lot of feedback. [8]
  • We emailed all facilitators of a topic in a group, they can opt to contact other facilitators if they want. [8]
  • We have a speaker coach. Speakers can book time with her and talk with her in advance. We also have online Skype versions of that. [9]
  • Organizers help facilitators who support everyone else.  [11]

Inclusive participation[edit]

  • Moderators receive details about all participation people in their session including bios and backgrounds. Conversation does not revolve around the panel - steer it to be more than a Q&A and a conversation between the audience and the speakers. [10]
  • Different cultures might feel like they need to raise their hands. Mozilla is a very jump in culture and if you don’t feel comfortable jumping in it would be hard. So we try to invite people. [2]

Session structure[edit]

  • Facilitation is a skill that takes a long time to build. Most people don’t have this. Even for good facilitators it takes a lot of time to arrange good discussions among people and it’s really hard to keep the quality of conversations high. To help address those things alongside good facilitators who are trained we introduced strong structures for sessions. Designed to help tackle problems within the time that they had. While these were group discussions they were translatable outside the discussion. [16]
  • Any session over a dozen people is a fail.  [11]
  • We have gone further and recommended speakers not to take questions. 3000 people in one theater makes it impossible to do it. [9]
  • You would like people to feel welcome and you would like people to get connected to the topic.
  • If you want people to pay attention to you then you need to pull up the wikidata entry of something relevant to the group.  [15]
  • In large group conversations we use a technique called “the world cafe” [7]


Helpful ideas and comments that don't fit into the other topic areas.

  • Good event design is slow motion negotiation. Build a set of outcomes you are trying to achieve or produce. Don’t start with the topics.  [11]
  • The timing of the event was important because it was just before Google Summer of Code. They can show some past history when applying for GSoC and it is a motivation. [20]
  • Fun! People are having fun with code. We make a lot of code related jokes.  Code related jokes: people really like them. [20]
  • We have a custom playlist in the main theater of the opera house. Keep a playlist open all year long and chuck stuff into it and shuffle it on playlist. Usually I try to hide some classics in there. People really enjoy that. We post the playlist. [9]
  • Show session organizers their rooms in advance, the evening before (morning of is too hectic) [8]
  • “Organization” is [purposefully] not listed on name-tags. Many people have noticed because this is important and welcoming. People might feel left out if they are not from somewhere important or badgered if they are from somewhere important. Many really appreciated this. [8]
  • Event organizers should learn to spot emotional intelligence: “this person looks like they have the love bringer instinct” and support that person.  [11]
  • Keynotes are difficult. There should be no “front of the room” because the privilege and elite are often the ones ending up on the stage.  [11]

If your organization has its own events guide or you know of a good one, please add it to our collection of "External Guides" at the bottom of the hackathon handbook page. We would love to learn from you!


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Morgan Willis - Allied Media Conference (Detroit, Michigan)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 Abigail Cabunoc Mayes - Mozilla Open Leaders (Toronto, Canada)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 Erika Drushka - MozFest (London, England)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Nattie Mayer-Hutchings - Debian Conference (Montreal, Canada)
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 Rachel Farrand - Wikimedia Foundation Hackathons and technical events (California, United States)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 Cornelius Kibelka - Wikimedia Conference (Berlin, Germany)
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 Sara Mörtsell - Diversity Conference (Stockholm, Sweden)
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17 8.18 8.19 8.20 8.21 8.22 8.23 8.24 8.25 8.26 8.27 8.28 8.29 8.30 Erika Owens - SRCCON (Minneapolis, Michigan)
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 Alex Miller  - Strange Loop (St. Louis, Missouri)
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 Nikki Bourassa - Harmful Speech Online: At the Intersection of Algorithms and Human Behavior (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 11.17 11.18 11.19 11.20 Allen Gunn - Aspiration & Non-Profit Developer Summit (San Francisco, CA)
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 12.22 Bethany Lister - Nonprofit Technology Conference (Portland, Oregon)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Dumisani Ndubane - WikiIndaba 2014 (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 Claudia Garad - Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 (Vienna, Austria)
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 User:Soni - Wikimedia Conference India 2016 (Chandigarh, India)
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 16.11 16.12 16.13 16.14 16.15 16.16 16.17 16.18 16.19 16.20 16.21 16.22 16.23 16.24 16.25 16.26 16.27 16.28 Joseph McArthur - OpenCon (Berlin, Germany)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Léa Lacroix - Wikidata Conference (Berlin, Germany)
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 Stephanie Taylor - Google Code In & Google Summer of Code (Sunnyvale, California)
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 Hong Phuc Dang - FOSSASIA (Singapore)
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 Tony Thomas - Hackathon Amrita University (Kerala, India)