Workshop Bounty Program

The lowdown on the Hack Club Fall 2020 workshop bounty program.

@zrl@zrl

Teaching coding is hard. Running engaging Hack Club meetings is even harder.

What better way to "crack" the workshop format than get every Hack Club leader in the world involved?

This semester, if you contribute a workshop to https://workshops.hackclub.com, we'll pay you $200. You could write workshops instead of a part-time job for personal income. Or you could write workshops to fundraise for your club.

What a great workshop looks like:

Great workshops make a real project in under 20 minutes, are very visual, and have clear paths for continued hacking. Members should be inspired to keep hacking on the project after the workshop, not left feeling stuck without knowing what to do next.

Sound Galaxy is an example of a good workshop. It's short, produces a visual project, and has clear paths to keep experimenting. Hear matthew@matthew's thoughts:

Good workshops:

In the past, Hack Club workshops were all Markdown files formated like blog posts. We want to push the format and will be accepting interactive MDX files, slideshows, static websites, and more (regular Markdown is still OK!).

Submission guidelines:

Hack Club workshops are entirely open source on GitHub. Workshops are submitted using pull requests.

In addition to submitting the workshop itself, we ask that you test your workshop in a club meeting and record a 1-2 minute clip during the meeting showing what people built. You could turn on Zoom recording for 2 minutes near the end of the meeting. Or walk around with your phone's camera showing what people built if you're in-person.

Please note: the meeting where you test your workshop can be a real club meeting or a mock meeting where you gather 3+ friends.

Submission requirements:

How to submit:

We are a very small team. We will not be able to provide detailed editing and feedback on submissions. If any of the above requirements are not hit, we will ask you to resubmit once you've met all guidelines.

How to get your payment:

Once your pull request is merged, you'll be sent a private form to share your payment details and tax forms with us.

You will receive a screenshot confirming payment once it's been made, usually within 7 days of form submission. Checks can take up to 2 weeks to arrive.

Wrapping up:

This is a very new experiment. We'll be iterating on the workshop guidelines throughout the semester and working to make sure that everyone is having the best experience possible.

If you have any questions, please message in #workshop-bounty on Slack. I'll be hanging out there to help out.

- Zach


Earlier I mentioned that running a club was hard. During the first 6 weeks of this school year, I am personally onboarding every new Hack Club myself.

I'm also speaking with many folks about their own Hack Clubs, some who are close to HQ and some who are not so close, and sharing excerpts below (with permission, of course).

Conversation with Matthew on his club and workshops

Bloomington, IN. 2:59 PM on Thursday, September 3rd, 2020.

What makes a good Hack Club meeting?

A lot of it is the leader. The leader has to provide the energy and make sure people are having fun. It is important that people learn stuff, but it may be even more important that people have fun than actually learn stuff. That doesn't mean people shouldn't learn stuff, just that it's really important they have a good time. One of the best ways to make sure people have a good time is to have them making some real while having fun.

You ran your Hack Club for 4 years. You mentioned that when you were a freshman and starting out, it was bad. Only later in your junior and senior years you feel like you "cracked" the format and started consistently running good meetings that had regular high attendance. What was the difference between your club when it was bad vs. good?

When it was bad, we mostly did nothing. During meetings, I would say: "OK, everyone can do whatever they want. Let me know if you need help thinking of a project." But really people just got lost and nobody asked for help. I was also working on my own projects during club meetings, which a lot of club leaders do. I thought that would inspire my members to build projects of their own, but in retrospect I think it just made me less approachable.

As soon as I stopped working on my own projects and got up and spent the whole meeting walking around the room, being energetic, checking in, and asking people if they needed help, I could feel a huge difference. Truly nobody in your club is going to ask for help, especially if they think you're busy. Admitting they need help makes them feel weird because they feel like they're bothering you. You have to check in with your members if you want them to ask you for help.

My Hack Club actually became good when I was running content every week. Because there wasn't good content available via the Hack Club workshops, I started writing my own workshops each week for club meetings.

What was the difference between the bad and the good workshops you made?

Usually the bad workshops, well - none were really bad - but the worst ones were the ones where the end result wasn't very satisfying or people had to spend too much time writing too much code that they didn't understand to get something tangible.

The best ones were where the end product was something really, really cool, visually appealing, and made in 10 or 20 minutes. Also, the best ones had 5 examples right out of the gate of how other people have hacked it. Then people would do the workshop and at the end everyone would end up with something different.

For members, good workshops take very little time and effort to produce something very visually appealing and very hackable. And there are inspiring examples of how the workshop could be further hacked.

A lot of the old Hack Club workshops felt more like tutorials than workshops. Because people spent 45 minutes going through the tutorial and then making something that they didn't feel very satisfied by. Synth was the best workshop not made by me because it was very satisfying, but even it took an hour to do and that was too long for a good club meeting.

My favorite workshop I've made is Sound Galaxy. Most people, especially beginners, don't know that it's actually possible to take input from your microphone and turn it into colorful blops that show up on the screen with input from your microphone. And it's even more impressive you can do that as a complete beginner and newbie in 40-50 lines of code. Every member I've seen do that workshop was very impressed that it was possible to make something so cool that they didn't even know was possible in such a short amount of time.

Thanks to Christina Asquith, Claire Wang, Lachlan Campbell, Malte Lauterbach, Matt Gleich, Matthew Stanciu, Max Wofford, Sam Poder, and other Hack Clubbers in the community for their feedback on this post.

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