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The Almighty Buck To Review Controversial Hackathon Win 34

itwbennett writes "Adding to the growing sentiment that prizes ruin hackathons, has come under fire from critics who say the hackathon the company held at its Dreamforce conference was judged unfairly. Not long after the $1 million prize was handed to Upshot for a mobile app that let users to create and edit reports, other contestants raised allegations of unfairness. Among the complaints: That Upshot's CTO Thomas Kim had demoed a similar-sounding application a couple of weeks before Oct. 25 cutoff; that Kim is a former employee (although that isn't in violation of the rules); and that their own entries weren't evaluated by judges at all. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is now promising a thorough investigation of the hackathon."
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  • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:12AM (#45525235) Homepage Journal

    at a startup that could be an exit for you! say it ain't so!

    also, duh, if you're going for a win at a salesforce hackathon of course you're going to try the api beforehand if you can and preferably bribe the guys with free booze or something. it's fucking salesforce after all.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:23AM (#45525329)

      Here is the article I read about this fiasco yesterday. Well written from the point of one of the entries:

      Her final point is interesting:

      "If I was Salesforce, I’d be pissed an employee was so bad at his job he left a gaping hole in the product, then he leaves and starts a company that conveniently fills that hole? Yet, Salesforce gives him a million dollars. Either Salesforce is an investor in Upshot, or they’re dumb."

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think she got a valuable lesson about how big enough businesses work. the people in best position to sell to the company are people who just left the company and every new idea that a 3rd party can do is not done because people will either not say that there's a need for something or deliberately stall it so they can use it as an exit.

      • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @10:39AM (#45525899)

        "If I was Salesforce, I’d be pissed an employee was so bad at his job he left a gaping hole in the product, then he leaves and starts a company that conveniently fills that hole? Yet, Salesforce gives him a million dollars. Either Salesforce is an investor in Upshot, or they’re dumb."

        Unless she has proof then it's nothing but a sour grapes speaking. How do we know that the employee left the company because his ideas were constantly shot down by management, and it was only after he was able to make the product that his old employer saw the potential in that feature being provided? This happens all the time in the technology sector.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Indeed.. Along with another reply here....

          Big companies often resist change.. Even if you try to improve holes, or make things better.. Getting to those decision makers and encouraging the company to 'invest' can be impossible...

          A company i know about has been promising to make a DB tracking program for a year now.. A competent programmer could bust it out in a week, maybe 2, and it would save the company $50,000-90,000 a year.. But they won't invest $2,000-$3,000 for 2 weeks of a programmers time..

  • Burned out (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nightsky30 ( 3348843 ) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:25AM (#45525347)
    After experiencing a few hackathons and seeing people submit re-titled pre-existing apps when the rules state they should be creating the app that day from scratch, I'm burned out. It shouldn't be a cheating contest. It arguably shouldn't be a contest at all. Hackathons are about collaboration, creation, and innovation.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The way I see it, either the prizes should be much, much lower, or if it is really supposed to be a hackathon in the true spirit, everyone should start with blank machines and no network connection. That's a hard-core competition. Otherwise there's just too much preparation that one can do.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fair enough, but hackathons generally want the submissions to be good. Sure, you'll find out who the best coders are without an internet connection, but the submissions will suffer for it. You could take away the money, but then you'll have a lot less entries.

        No, all they need to do is vet the winners and make sure there was no unfairness, which is easier said then done. If this company has any balls they'll rule this verdict unfair.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I guess it's better to learn from your own mistakes than to never learn at all. Even better though is to learn from other people's experience. Coding competitions or contests are similar to crowdsourcing. You get lots of people to work for you and only pay out a comparatively small amount. The only difference is that in the case of crowdsourcing, everybody gets paid a little, while in the case of a contest, even if it is done correctly, few get paid a lot and most get paid nothing.

      The thing to remember is:

  • by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Tuesday November 26, 2013 @09:30AM (#45525369)

    Prizes don't ruin hackathons, cheating does.

    • by Webmoth ( 75878 )

      So you're saying Hackathon was H@X0R3D?

      • The winner went for the "social engineering" tactic. It's a bit on the not-impressive side technically, but considering the dark side of hacker culture and given that we're talking about a host that has the name "sales" in its name, I can't be too particularly surprised. No honor among thiev^H^H^H^H^H marketers.
  • Anytime you're playing for serious money--fairness, sportsmanship, etc. tend to go out the window pretty fast (the speed in direct proportion to the amount of money involved).

  • Money is a way to attract contestants, that is people who will compete against each other to prove an often arbitrary and minor superiority. A contest that actually well designed can function without direct monetary rewards. However, this competition sounds like it is there to promote and possible create products that are a benefit to one particular firm. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume the winner would be the product that is going to provide functionality and growth for the firm, not the prod
    • How about splitting the prize money based on an objective points system? You could add bonus money for the apps that score higher, subtract for apps that merely add features to an already existing app, so you'll only merit the improvements, not the whole app. It makes it ridiculously complicated to come up with a points system that isn't cheatable, but you could probably come up with something that's harder to doctor than it's worth.
  • Here's my opinion. Their product is a flaming piece of excrement. Their implementation of BMCRemedyForce is too expensive and badly implemented.

You must realize that the computer has it in for you. The irrefutable proof of this is that the computer always does what you tell it to do.