My Experience

I am a part of the organising team of TSEC Hacks, the annual hackathon by TSEC CodeCell.

At TSEC CodeCell, I have helped in organising three editions of TSEC Hacks from 2020 to 2022. This blog post is an accumulation of some of those experiences.

TSEC Hacks202020212022

Apart from a hackathon organiser, I am a Web Developer, a Speaker and the Organiser at Our Tech Community.

Why Attitude Matters

A hackathon organising team’s attitude can make or break a hacker’s experience. A good team attitude leads to not only having the bulk of things well organised, but to an attention to detail that helps in enhancing the hacker’s experience beyond the usual. A team’s attitude is defined by the attitude of individual members, so that will be the focus of this blog post.

Attitude Problems Faced by Teams

What are the attitude problems faced by most teams while organising hackathons?

  • Being lax
    • Team members usually leave things for the future, as there seems to be a lot of time to the event day when the preparation starts.
    • The effects of this procrastination are not visible till then end, when minute details are not taken into consideration in panic-mode and participants don’t get that special experience that distinguishes the hackathon from others.
    • Playing off the seriousness of a situation and putting it off is also a part of this.
  • Not looking into the future
    • Once team members are lax, they stop looking into the future to try remember the things they’re forgetting or have not taken into account at all.
    • Members don’t try to anticipate what could go wrong and don’t think about handling worst-case scenarios.
  • Waiting for work to be assigned
    • Members usually wait for work to be assigned to them and don’t try to think of more things that they could do or that could be done to improve the hackathon that might’ve been missed.
    • This increases the workload on a few people who are both doing their tasks and thinking about the future.
    • This is mainly applicable to experienced organisers.
  • Lack of enthusiasm
    • Work done to ‘finish off’ a task is usually hasty and not as meticulous as required. It makes for plans that don’t cover all edge cases.
      • The effect of this will only be visible on-day, when things start to go wrong because things that could’ve been handled beforehand weren’t.
    • Enthusiasm helps handling things pro-actively, thus enabling a good hacker experience.
  • Not taking up the slack
    • Unenthusiastic members usually ‘finish off’ their assigned tasks and don’t help out at places where things are lagging behind schedule.
      • This is obviously assuming that they’re within their working limit and are willing to learn something they might’ve never done before.
      • It’s fair if the other team refuses the help if they think that a new member would only slow things down.
  • Giving preference to personal work
    • Everyone has a personal life and things to do all the time. This does not mean that organising the hackathon, a responsibility that the member took up voluntarily, takes a back seat all the time. There is a limit to everything and one has to contribute considerably to the event along with their personal responsibilities.
    • Everyone makes sacrifices and if a few members don’t work towards the event, the others also feel like giving their pressing personal matters more of their time than the event.
    • If there is a health/family/personal issue going on, the member is definitely excused without any questions asked.

Ideal Team Attitude

What attitudes should a hackathon organising team possess?

  • Being enthusiastic
    • This is one of the most important qualities that every team member, irrespective of their experience, needs to have.
    • A lot of things like being pro-active, working hard, going beyond one’s scope, etc. become so much easier to do.
  • Being pro-active
    • Even though the preparation for a hackathon starts months in advance, a lot of variables need to be decided upon in advance for the smooth functioning of the hackathon.
    • Thinking that there is a lot of time is the first step to causing issues where things either don’t work out in the end or just don’t turn out to be as effective as they could have been.
    • For example, sponsorship and marketing deals need to be decided upon well in advance for them to benefit both parties. Processing those deals also take a long time, especially in cases of monetary deals. So the more pro-actively these tasks are undertaken, the more chances of publicity and sponsorship a hackathon can have.
  • Looking into the future
    • Hackathons, especially in-person ones, involve a lot of variables, so a lot of variables are bound to be forgotten at any point of time. So it is important that members keep thinking of what the team might be missing out on.
    • Thinking about the future also helps in coming across edge cases and worst-case scenarios. Discussions can then be had to decide the strategies to be followed in those cases.
  • Being decisive and being a leader
    • It is important for every team member to be a leader in their own right.
    • In their own scope, team members should be able to make firm decisions and work on their task with vigour. This gives a clarity of actions and helps understand the direction in which things are going.
    • If one is dillydallying as they aren’t able to understand something for quite some time, they should seek help and not keep pondering over it or leave it for later.
  • Going beyond one’s scope
    • In case someone in the team is slacking, members should offer to help them out within their working limits.
    • In case a member is done with their tasks, they should think about how they can help out in the organisation process and/or go and help someone who is slacking.
      • This obviously has to be within a person’s working limit, but they should atleast give things a thought and then consciously decide against doing them if they have too much on their plate and hand them off to someone. Even remembering something that should be done helps.
  • Balancing work
    • Hackthons are fun to organise with the team. There should be a balance between the fun and the work to be done though. None of them should be in extremes.
    • Also, achieving a balance between personal responsibilities and hackathon organisation responsibilities is a must, because an imbalance will always cause problems.
  • Acknowledging and reassuring other members
    • Communication is a key aspect of good organisation.
    • Members should be active-enough to acknowledge messages, inform the status of tasks and reassure others when work is being/has been done.

Overcoming Attitude Problems

How can teams overcome attitude problems?

  • Tell the lacking team member(s) what is expected of them.
    • Explain the qualities missing and why they are important.
    • Tell them the requirements and explain why they are important.
    • Tell them how they can achieve them, why those steps are important and why they are done in a particular way.
      • Give them the flexibility of modifying the way to achieve something until they are achieving the goal through fair means.
  • Lead by example a few times and show them what is expected of them.
    • Explain the though process behind doing things the way they’re being done.
  • Empathise with them and understand why they aren’t able to contribute enough.
    • Everyone has issues that prevent them from contributing as much as they would’ve wanted, so it is important to enquire with them and allow them to open up before taking any corrective steps.
    • Try to help them achieve a balance between personal and hackathon responsibilities.
    • In case of health/family issues, that member should be excused.
  • Asking for progress updates
    • Regularly asking for status updates on tasks is one way to ensure that members understand the urgency of the situation and feel the need to work.
  • As a last resort, have a stern word with them.
    • If nothing works and they don’t reveal any personal issues, one has to be stern with them and setup strict boundaries.
    • Members can also be asked to give quantifiable updates on the amount of work done in a particular time span.


Every hackathon organising team has issues and no team can ever be perfect. Correcting attitude problems is very difficult and is definitely much easier said than done. What can be done is to try to optimize these issues as much as possible and help each other out so that things can be handled better collectively. The aim is to work in such a way that it isn’t always a select few members who get burnt out and to achieve that, the team’s attitude is of vital importance.

A special thank you to Tushar Nankani for helping me refine this blog post.