October 23, 2008Culture · Web · Mobile · Hacking · Performance · User Experience · Chat

The All-Night Hackathon Is Back!

Pedram Keyani

Every few months, our engineers unleash their talents in one epic, all-night coding session. These are the Facebook Hackathons. They start with takeout Chinese food around 8 p.m. and end with a dawn breakfast at any pancake house or donut shop that will have us. In between, dozens of Facebook engineers create working prototypes of projects that they always wanted to build but couldn’t ever pursue during their regular hours. Hackathon XI – also known as The Presidential Hackathon – will take place the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 5.

In past years, Facebook Hackathons have been the starting point for all sorts of new features that rapidly became mainstays of the site, such as Facebook Chat, internationalization, the type-ahead feature in search, the friend suggester, etc. etc. Not every experiment pays off right away, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward setting that encourages engineers to bring to life some of the great ideas that are floating around here. We have plenty of in-house ideas already in the mix for Hackathon XI, but there’s no reason we can’t welcome outside input, too.

If Facebook users have ideas about new features or site improvements that could be tackled in our one-night time frame, please accept our invitation to submit those concepts to the address hackathon-ideas@facebook.com. The deadline is noon Pacific time, Monday, Nov. 3. In doing so, you agree to our standard Terms of Use, which specify that Facebook is entitled to the unrestricted use of such submissions for any purpose, without acknowledgement or compensation to you.

We are awarding free Facebook T-shirts to the top 10 ideas, so please include your mailing address and shirt size. We hope that the ideas generated and carried out in this Hackathon will make the site more appealing and useful to everyone. Watch this space next week for updates about the Hackathon itself.

Pedram Keyani is a Facebook engineer who is organizing The Presidential Hackathon.

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