Defining the problem

Every day, people all over the country experience prejudice. Some forms are blatant, like hate crimes or the use of slurs. However, a lot of these experiences aren't quite so clearly 'bad.'

A girl at a hackathon might realize that every boy she meets assumes she's a designer and not a real engineer. A professor might make an offhand comment about the queer community that leaves a closeted student with an 'off' feeling. A student with accessibility needs might have to skip office hours because they're held in a building with no wheelchair ramp.

When these smaller things happen, it's easy for people to feel alone, and even easier to assume it was some sort of fluke. Especially in liberal college bubbles, it's easy to brush incidents like this off, assuming that things like that don't actually happen with any frequency in the real world. However, things like this do happen, all the time.

We wanted to bring attention to these issues, as well as creating a community of solidarity for those affected by these incidents.

Our solution

YTH is a forum tool designed to increase feelings of solidarity by allowing users to post experiences with racism, bullysing, sexism, homophobia, or other issues of prejudice. Other users can vote to 'relate' to posts that are similar to experiences, as well as 'validate' other posts to show their support.

All posts can be 'flagged' for review if they contain sensitive or inappropriate content. Once a post has been flagged, it doesn't show up on the site until it's been reviewed by a moderator. The same process applies to comments.

Although anyone can read the site, to make a new post, a user must log in with a gmail account. This information is never displayed publicly, but allows moderators to track any users who frequently have their content flagged.

How we built it

YTH is coded in Python using a jinja environment and is hosted on Google App Engine. The front end was designed using HTML, CSS, and javascript.

Challenges

Most of our team doesn't have a lot of hackathon experience. It was a bit of a challenge to find a project with a reasonable scope, and to complete it without falling into the trap of becoming overly competitive and stressing each other out.

Accomplishments

We're proud that we were able to create a functioning website in such a short period of time. We also take pride in knowing that we hacked on something that could have an actual social impact, and won't just be a one-off throwaway project like many hackathon projects are.

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