5 things I learned hosting Hacktoberfest

Back in October, I hosted a Hacktoberfest event at Bouvet's HQ here in Oslo.

As host, I also held a quick intro as well as a "crash course in open source".

In case you don't know, Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration of open source software, supported by companies such as GitHub, DigitalOcean and twilio. Community events are held around the world with the purpose of learning about, contributing to and celebrating all things open source.

This was my first time hosting a community event such as this, and I picked up a few things from my experience:

1. One week is not a lot of prep-time

If you want or need speakers for an event, you should start recruiting them ASAP! Though I got a lot of positive feedback from community figures I contacted, not all of them had time or could commit on such a short notice – which is totally understandable!

Venue, food and drinks, etc. should also ideally be fixed long before the event. Thankfully, Bouvet sponsored the food and drinks in my case!

2. Enforce your schedule

Speakers gonna speak. Make 'em keep it short and sweet. I'm thinking 10-15 minutes a person at a maximum. People are there to participate, after all – so the sooner they can get active, the better!

3. Recruit a volunteer or two

Though I definitely got help from a couple of fellow Bouvet'ers, there definitively would have been less pressure if I'd recruited a few volunteers I could give some responsibility and delegate some tasks to.

4. People are different

Any event has a target demographic. Whether it is newbies or intermediate coders, it will affect the event's areas of focus, what kind of speakers and presentations there should be, and so on.

In the case of my Hacktoberfest-event, even if I was targeting intermediates, I could have made special resources and people available to help newcomers out.

5. You meet a lot of cool people

There are many interesting people in the community. If you talk to them, you're bound to learn something!

At the Hacktoberfest event, I met someone who was just starting out in webdev, who was also on crutches, recovering from a motorcycle-accident; I talked a bunch about Kuberetes with my colleague Jamie, who also held a presentation; I talked to Terje from Microsoft about wxWidgets, which I learned Microsoft has contributed a lot to, and I met a student/cryptocurrency-entrepreneur from the Baltics.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening, and I already plan to contribute to Hacktoberfest next year in some form or another!

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