Hackathon Rules

These are standard competition rules used at MLH Member Hackathons. Not all MLH Member Hackathons will use these rules as organizers can choose to use these or their own rules. Organizers can use these rules exactly or fork them and edit them to suit their needs. If you have a suggestion for these rules or a question about them, please submit an issue here.

The spirit of the competition

Remember that hackathons are like marathons. Some people go to compete but most people take part to better themselves and have fun. Whatever the reason is you're at a hackathon, make sure you're upholding the hacker spirit by collaborating with other teams, helping beginners, and having fun.

Involving Minors

  1. Hack K-State openly welcomes all high school students to participate in our hackathon. We are, however limited to the number of minors we can accept due to univerisity policies that require a certain supervision ratio.
  2. Due to our limited capacity for minors, hackers who are minors that register for our event will be automatically waitlisted until we can confirm that we have enough supervision for them to attend and until we have confirmed their coach/chaperone.
  3. All hackers who are minors (under 18 years of age at time of competition) are required to have a coach or chaperone.
    1. Coaches/chaperones must be at least 18 years old or older.
      • Coaches must be an employee of the school that the minor is attending
        • Coaches must have a valid background check on file with their school.
        • Coaches may serve as a coach for hackers from multiple schools as long as each of those schools has approved them to do so.
      • Chaperones must be a parent or legal guardian of the minor.
      • Chaperones may serve as a coach (i.e. accompany multiple minors from the same school) if they are approved by the school to do so and have a valid background check.
    2. Coaches/chaperones must register for Hack K-State events before the minors they will be accompanying
    3. Coaches/chaperones must be present for the entire duration of the event while the hackers they are accompanying are onsite. Note: Overnight, coaches/chaperones are not allowed to be in the same enclosed space where hackers they are not responsible for are sleeping.
    4. Hackers may share the same coach as long as they are from the same school (exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis)
    5. Hackers may not share the same chaperone unless they are siblings
    6. Hackers may not leave the building where Hack K-State is hosted unless they are accompanied by their coach/chaperone.

The rules of the competition

  1. There is a maximum team size of 4. For winning teams, we will provide prizes for up to 4 participants.
  2. Teams should be made up exclusively of students (or recent graduates within one year of having graduated) who are not organizers, volunteers, judges, sponsors, or in any other privileged position at the event. Students must be at least 14 years old to participate in Hack K-State.
  3. All team members should be present at the event. Leaving the venue for some time to hack elsewhere is fine.
  4. Teams can of course gain advice and support from organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and others.
  5. All work on a project should be done at the hackathon.
  6. Teams can use an idea they had before the event.
  7. Teams can work on ideas that have already been done. Hacks do not have to be “innovative”. If somebody wants to work on a common idea they should be allowed to do so and should be judged on the quality of their hack. These days it’s hard to find something that’s fully original and teams might not know an idea has been done before anyway.
  8. Teams can work on an idea that they have worked on before (as long as they do not re-use code).
  9. Teams can use libraries, frameworks, or open-source code in their projects. Working on a project before the event and open-sourcing it for the sole purpose of using the code during the event is against the spirit of the rules and is not allowed.
  10. Adding new features to existing projects is allowed. Judges will only consider new functionality introduced or new features added during the hackathon in determining the winners.
  11. Teams must stop hacking once the time is up. However, teams are allowed to debug and make small fixes to their programs after time is up. e.g. If during demoing your hack you find a bug that breaks your application and the fix is only a few lines of code, it's okay to fix that. Making large changes or adding new features is not allowed.
  12. Projects that violate the Code of Conduct are not allowed.
  13. Teams can be disqualified from the competition at the organizers' discretion. Reasons might include but are not limited to breaking the Competition Rules, breaking the Code of Conduct, or other unsporting behavior.


After hacking finishes, teams will show their projects each other and to the judges.

You are strongly encouraged to present a demo of what you have built. Pitches or presentations are discouraged. You are not judged on the quality of your pitch or the quality of your idea. As you are judged on what you built, you'll only hurt yourself by not showing a demo.

You are encouraged to present what you have done even if your hack is broken or you weren’t able to finish. It's okay if you didn't finish your hack—that happens all the time! Completion is only one part of the judging criteria, so you might still do well. Also, demoing is not just about the competition. It's a chance to share with others what you learned and what you tried to build—that's what hacking's all about! For being courageous enough to demo, you'll receive a special MLH "I Demoed" sticker—it doesn't matter how good the demo is! In the case that you don't have anything to demo, you can give a presentation about what you tried and what you learned. Hearing what other people learned is interesting and inspiring for other attendees.

Judging Criteria

Teams will be judged on these four criteria. Judges will weigh the criteria equally. During judging, participants should try to describe what they did for each criterion in their project. Note that special tracks may have additional or different judging criteri

These criteria will guide judges but ultimately judges are free to make decisions based on their gut feeling of which projects are the most impressive and most deserving.

It's important to note that these judging criteria do not include:

So don't worry about coming up with the next big idea or building the next Facebook. You'll have plenty of time for that outside the hackathon. just focus on learning, having fun, and making new friends. At the end of the day the skills you learn and the friends you make might lead to the next big thing—but you don't have to do that to win a hackathon.


Prizes will be awarded to the top teams in each category. Prizes will be announced at the event and awarded after closing ceremonies. Prizes are provided in part by the event sponsors and are subject to change. In order to receive a prize, you must be present at the closing ceremony. Likewise, to receive your prize you must have a social security number as we are required all prize recipients to fill out a W-9 form.

Be an Awesome Human

We always look forward to hosting our annual hackathon and can't wait to see what you all will create! BUT first things first. We need to go over a few rules that govern our event. We pride ourselves in making Hack K-State one of the best experiences for our participants and want to keep it a fun and welcoming event for all.

  1. All participants in Hack K-State (both in-person and online) are bound by the MLH Code of Conduct found here: https://static.mlh.io/docs/mlh-code-of-conduct.pdf
  2. All participants in Hack K-State (both in-person and online) are bound by the Kansas State University student code of conduct, regardless if you are an enrolled K-State student. The student code of conduct is found here: https://www.k-state.edu/sga/judicial/student-code-of-conduct.html
  3. Treat everyone with respect. Absolutely no harassment, witch hunting, sexism, racism, or hate speech will be tolerated.
  4. No spam or self-promotion (server invites, advertisements, etc) without permission from a staff member. This includes DMing fellow members.
  5. No age-restricted or obscene content. This includes text, images, or links featuring nudity, sex, hard violence, or other graphically disturbing content.
  6. If you see something against the rules or something that makes you feel unsafe, let a Hack K-State Organizer, Volunteer, or MLH Representative know. You may also make these reports directly to MLH here: https://mlh.io/contact. We want this event to be a welcoming space!
  7. Any violation of the above rules may result in your immediate removal from this Hack K-State event and future events.


The competition is just a part of the hackathon. To make the most out of the event, try something new, teach other people, and make new friends!

Happy Hacking!