One-off Events? An Empirical Study of Hackathon Code Creation and Reuse

by   Ahmed Samir Imam Mahmoud, et al.

Background: Hackathons have become popular events for teams to collaborate on projects and develop software prototypes. Most existing research focuses on activities during an event with limited attention to the evolution of the hackathon code. Aim: We aim to understand the evolution of code used in and created during hackathon events, with a particular focus on the code blobs, specifically, how frequently hackathon teams reuse pre-existing code, how much new code they develop, if that code gets reused afterward, and what factors affect reuse. Method: We collected information about 22,183 hackathon projects from DevPost and obtained related code blobs, authors, project characteristics, original author, code creation time, language, and size information from World of Code. We tracked the reuse of code blobs by identifying all commits containing blobs created during hackathons and identifying all projects that contain those commits. We also conducted a series of surveys in order to gain a deeper understanding of hackathon code evolution that we sent out to hackathon participants whose code was reused, whose code was not reused, and developers who reused some hackathon code. Result: 9.14 repositories and 8 and around a third of the hackathon code gets reused in other projects by both blob count and LOC. The number of associated technologies and the number of participants in hackathons increase the reuse probability. Conclusion: The results of our study demonstrate hackathons are not always "one-off" events as common knowledge dictates and they can serve as a starting point for further studies in this area.


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