Hackathon Consent Form

Purpose and general description of the study

Study on the history, use, and troubles of the hackathon, or codefest, model of engagement. The goal is to end up with a clearer understanding of the tension between the formal sector taking on the idea of “hackathon” while actively combatting the context of “hacking.” More appropriate methodologies for organizers, facilitators, and participants would be published and workshopped back into the community of hackathons and the people who make them happen.


This study is conducted by Willow Brugh, a research affiliate at Center for Civic Media at MIT’s Media Lab, with Ethan Zuckerman as Principal Investigator. You, along with 3-10 other individuals, are requested to participate in the study due to your connection and history with the groups which exemplify the topic. These groups were chosen based on a wide ranging view of hackathons and engagement roles.

The research is anticipated to include a one-hour interview with participants and followup questions via email. Summaries will be sent to participants for feedback and approval before being posted to a public website. Research is currently slated to end in December 2013.



Your participation in this research is completely voluntary.  You can withdraw from the study at any time without penalty or loss of the benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. You do not have to answer any questions that you do not want to answer.

Data Collection

Data will be collected via interviews via Jitsi, G+, Skype, Phone, Jabber, or some other conversational platform of the interviewee’s choice, or possible in-person interaction. Dependent upon the consent of the interviewee, data will be logged mentally, textually, and/or audibly. All data will be released to the interviewee within 2 weeks, and later to the public if single-instance consent is expressed after review.


During the interviews, expression of beliefs around hackathons, their purpose, and methodologies will be examined. Questions will revolve around history, best practices, success stories, and future expectations.


Due to the co-creative nature of this research, participants will determine if they would like to be identified or not. Each node of analysis of interviews will be released to the interviewee for approval and clarification, and at that time the interviewee will be asked if they would like the node to be anonymized or credited. If any subset of interviewees desires anonymity, Willow Brugh will consult with the participants to determine if all groups must be anonymized to protect the indicating party, or if a mix-and-match is possible.



Confidentiality in this study is determined by the participants. After agreeing to take part in the study, each interviewee will indicate what level of confidentiality they prefer:

  1. Anonymity to the best of the researcher’s ability.
  2. Association with group, but individual anonymity.
  3. Identified by name and group affiliation.

Based upon how all interviewees respond, Willow Brugh will work with the participants to determine if mix-and-match is plausible, or if all respondants must be identified or anonymous. If in question, anonymity will be defaulted to. Any quotes or exact attributions will rely upon a per-instance specific consent.


All data will be retained on a hard drive encrypted via TrueCrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org) and stored with Willow Brugh and an encrypted backup drive stored in a locked cabinet at MIT’s Media Lab. All interviews and email exchanges will take place via OTR, PGP mail,  Jitsi, or Red Phone. Any documentation will be offered to the interviewee and transmitted via encrypted channels (as listed above), but it is their perogative to store in a secure fashion if desired. Assistance in setting up encryption methods is provided upon request.

If anonymity is desired, any audio will be destroyed after analysis of the interview is responded to and approved by the interviewee. The name of the interviewee will at no point be stored in plaintext, and will be erased from stored data after encoding occurs.

If explicit consent is given on a per-instance basis, audio and transcript (when available) will be published to the web in an open format.


Risks, Costs, and Benefits

Risks of Participating in the Research

There are no known risks for participating in this research, other than the violation of confidentiality if confidentiality is desired. I have indicated above/below the steps I am taking to preserve your confidentiality.

Benefits to the Subject or Others, or Body of Knowledge

In understanding and making explicit the benefits and difficulties of the hackathon space, these communities can become more self-aware and thereby more effective in achieving their goals.


No compensation is provided to participants.


Questions about the research and rights of research participants

If you have any questions about this study at any time, please feel free to contact either me, Willow Brugh, at 812.219.4056 or bl00@media.mit.edu, or Ethan Zuckerman, director of Center for Civic Media at ethanz@gmail.com. We will do everything possible to prevent or reduce your discomfort and risk to you, but it is not possible to predict everything that might occur.  If you experience unexpected discomfort or think something unusual or problematic is occurring, please contact any of the people listed above.

Signature Block

By filling in your name, you indicate your desire to participate in this study.

Please indicate your preferences for overall anonymity (you can change this at any point for future publication, but existing research updates will either have been credited directly to you or stripped of all information). Each node will pass through you for feedback and approval before being published.

  1. Anonymity to the best of the researcher’s ability.
  2. Association with group, but individual anonymity.
  3. Identified by name and group affiliation.

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