Charles Eckel

IETF Hackathon Online - Finding New Ways to Collaborate

Charles Eckel
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IETF Hackathons encourage the community to collaborate on running code related to existing and evolving Internet standards. The ongoing pandemic led to a need to find new ways to collaborate when meeting online. The online IETF 109 Hackathon was a recent example. A new Internet-Draft aims to document the evolving practices for running these hackathons.


IETF Hackathons encourage the Internet community to collaborate and develop utilities, ideas, sample code, and solutions related to IETF standards. The main aims behind these events are to:

  • Advance the pace and relevance of IETF standards activities by bringing the speed and collaborative spirit of open source development into the IETF
  • Bring developers and young people into IETF and get them exposed to and interested in IETF

In order to help best achieve these aims, IETF Hackathons are designed to be collaborative events rather than competitions. Any competitiveness among participants is friendly and in the spirit of advancing the pace and relevance of new and evolving Internet standards. The events are also free to attend and open to anyone who's interested in taking part.

Remote Hackathons 

As all of us are well aware, the ongoing pandemic has created big challenges for collaborative events and there's been a very real need to develop new ways to collaborate online. The online IETF 109 Hackathon, held at the start of the IETF 109 meeting in November 2020, was a recent example of this.

Building on what was learnt at the IETF 108 Hackathon, which also took place as a virtual event last July, the community was able to come up with a number of creative ways to adapt to the challenge of not being able to gather together in person. If you're interested in finding out more, check out this post on the IETF blog where we talk more about the technical solutions that were put to use at the event, the results and lessons learned, and the plans for the IETF 110 Hackathon in March 2021. 

Call for Review - Running an IETF Hackathon  

In an aim to bring together previous experience in organising hackathons, and to share what we've learnt as a community about making the move to online events, an IETF Internet-Draft (working document for the IETF) has been submitted that documents a set of practices for running IETF Hackathons. 

Read the IETF Internet-Draft now

The draft covers IETF Hackathons in general, but also includes a set of special considerations for online only hackathons. Your review and comments on this draft are encouraged and welcome.

The draft is meant not only to document current practices but also to expand and improve those practices going forward. Comments can be shared directly with the authors or via the "Stay Home Meet Only Online (shmoo)" working group.

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