Hackathons/Handbook/Event week

From mediawiki.org

Gearing up for the best and most intense weekend of your year.

There is no way to fully prepare for all the spontaneous things you have to manage, but you can make sure you get as close as possible to planning the un-plan-able. 

Here are a few steps you can take to get as ready as possible: 

Create a plan of action for your team[edit]

Make a plan of action for the whole team for the event week. You have planned everything according to the timeline, but the closer the event comes, the more little things you will have to keep track of. 

It's a good idea to sit down for a big meeting with your entire team on the Monday before the event weekend, and make a detailed plan of action for the event week. 

General tips[edit]

When you create your plan of action, don't forget to talk it over with the WMF team! 

Your timeline and your plan of action are closely related – make sure that you don't miss anything from either.

If you need more helping hands to set up the venue, engage other participants to help you spontaneously, make it a fun activity. 

The most intensive days for organizers are: 

  • day 0 (day before the event) - main responsibilities for people who: set up the venue, manage registration desk, handle press inquiries
  • day 1 (first day of the event) - main responsibilities for people who: manage registration desk, give opening address, oversee program and sessions

Templates and examples[edit]

Einsatzplan (German for "plan of action") by WMAT, organizers of the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna.


Your registration desk should be set up in a central and easy to find location. Ideally you will also keep it open for the remainder of the event as a question and help desk.

Staffing your registration and help desk with a combination of volunteers and organizers who are points of contact with your venue and program leads is a good idea. Generally you should also have a registration / questions chat going on so people can coordinate on their phones with each-other throughout the event.

Efficient Registration[edit]

  • List multiple windows of time for people to register
  • Have more then one line for people to stand in
  • If registration has multiple steps assign different people for each task. One person can check them in on the computer, one person can hand them their name badge and give instructions, another person can give them their t-shirt, etc.
  • If the line is long, announce to people where they can get some food and drink or to sit down and chat and to come back when the line is shorter

Sensitivity briefing for registration desk staff / volunteers[edit]

If you are working with a group that is unfamiliar with staffing an international event's registration desk it would be a good idea to help a briefing in advance of the event.

Make sure they understand the following points:

  • The registration form responses to which they will have access may have legal names of participants which participants would like to keep private. They should not say any of the data they see on the registration form out loud to participants.
  • Consider gender when you are talking with participants. They may not be the gender that they are presenting as. Let the participant take the lead on any discussions around gender and do not make assumptions.
  • The registration desk is the first point of contact participants have with the event. It may be their very first in-person interaction with a Wikimedian or a Wikimedian not from their home country. Keep this in mind and be as helpful and welcoming as you can.
  • Some participants may be traveling internationally for their first time.

Make a packing list[edit]

Make a list of all the big and little things you need to pack. There's going to be lots of stuff you have to move to the venue. 

Phabricator task associated with this list: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T164629.

General tips[edit]

  • Transportation:
    • Consider hiring a transportation company
    • Make a schedule with the drivers/ car owners in your team
    • Or just take taxis to transport stuff from your office/ the shops to the venue
    • Have material shipped to the venue directly (sponsoring materials, printing materials, etc.)
  • Get supplies from previous hackathon organizers and the WMF team, e.g. generic logo banners and table signs.
  • Different teams need different lists! Make your own packing list, and update the following template with your learnings:

Packing list template[edit]

Registration and help desk[edit]

  • exhibition stand (as table for registration desk) 
  • card index box (for registration desk to sort name tags) 
  • Name badges incl. conference booklets and vouchers for drinks
  • plastic covers for name badges
  • regular lanyards
  • no-photo lanyards
  • Stickers 
  • T-shirts 
    • for staff
    • for mentors 
    • for participants
  • flyers for membership for chapter
  • flyers for sponsoring for chapter
  • all sponsoring material that was not sent to venue directly 
  • First aid kit (pain killers etc.)


  • goodies for mentors (e.g. Maria Theresia silver coins at Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna)
  • Stickers / branded give-aways 
    • with chapter logo 
    • with hackathon logo
  • branded goodies for all participants 
    • eg. post cards (at Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna)
    • eg. water bottles (at Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna) plus blank labels for water bottles
  • monitor-wipes (400 individually packaged, goodies for participants at help desk)
  • chocolate or other candy (goodies for participants at help desk)
  • bathroom supplies (deodorant, tampons, dental floss, etc., to be put in bathrooms (Those 3 in particular, and optionally more or more)

General supplies[edit]

  • Big trash bags (2 packages)
  • see-through sticky tape (for paper)
  • painter's tape (removable from wall without damaging it)
  • duct tape (makes cables stick to the ground)
  • 6 pairs of scissors
  • Post-its: 4 packages of each size: small (38mm x 51mm), medium (76x76), large (76x124)
  • White board markers 
  • 4 black permanent markers
  • 10 black markers for name tags and miscellaneous 
  • 50 sheets of blank paper with hackathon logo (to be used for table signs and other purposes)
  • 50 clear sheets (for signs to hang)

Technical supplies[edit]

  • extra power adaptors 
  • cables and electrical outlets (2 devices per participant)
  • projector connections of various types 
  • USB-sticks (to put slideshows of sponsor logos on screens in venue, plus for miscellaneous)

Hacking tables[edit]

  • colorful markers, pens and crayons (for participants to draw on tables)
  • wrapping paper for tables 
  • Table signs

Signs, banners, roll-ups, posters[edit]

Fun stuff[edit]

  • acoustic guitar (e.g. for dance and music sessions in the evening)
  • plushies and name tags for plushies
  • costumes for selfie station at party (e.g. like at Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 Vienna)