Many hackathons are codefests where attendees have the opportunity to team up, network, and exchange knowledge among peers; meet and find help or insights from experienced mentors; learn more about new technologies; and compete for prizes and honors. They serve as not only an opportunity for students to grow their coding skills, among others, but also an important pipeilne into the tech industry. While hackathons are open to everyone, traditional hackathons often fail to attract women and BIPOC in large numbers.
Much like the technology industry at large, hackathons can be exclusionary by operating under seemingly unwritten rules and structural designs - big and small - that make these spaces unintentionally not inclusive. With the explosion of online hackathons due to the pandemic, countless hackathons are now hosted on an online platform called Discord. To help make hackathons more welcoming and inclusive for those underrepresented in tech, we created SATT bot.
What it does
Short for Seat At The Table, SATT Bot helps hackathon life go right by addressing barriers women, BIPOC, and others underrepresented in tech face to make hackathons more welcoming and inclusive to all. Our bot:
- offers a welcome message to the server
- lays out some ground rules that attendees agree to abide by
- encourages beginners
- allows experienced hackathon attendees to signal that they are open to leading newbies
- ensures that there is respectful language is used on the Discord server
- reminds newbies about various resources around them (e.g. their own teammates, mentors, links)
We help hackathoners manage the recurrent risks of participating in an online environment, recover from unexpected roadblocks, and realize their goals.
How we built it
We built our Discord bot using mainly python with convenient libraries ilke apscheduler to trigger Cron jobs and sqlite as the database.
Challenges we ran into
Believe it or not, setting up the environment so that we can deploy our code was one of the hardest items to get through. By the same token, it allowed us to stretch our minds figuring out how we can overcome this challenge beyond googling errors.
One of us a relative newbie to python, and no one else on the team had any experience with it. But so many people say Python is easy to pick up, or that it at least is a very forgiving language, so we went all in on a language we weren't familiar with.
We also started out with a team of four and ended up basically with a working team of two. One team member joined us for the initial conversation and then stopped communicating altogether, and another team member fell sick on Saturday.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We have our first hack / bot!!!
What we learned
- web scraping with python and then transforming data to fit our needs
- the power of lambda!
- asynchronous functions
- scheduling jobs in Cron fashion
What's next for SATT Bot
- creating a team formation system that automatically pairs up beginners and experienced hackathoners who've signaled that they're open to leading newbies
- building out more comprehensive resources