Contributor(s): Nicole Laskowski

A hackathon, also known as a codefest, is a social coding event that brings computer programmers and other interested people together to improve upon or build a new software program. 

The word hackathon is a portmanteau of the words hack, which means clever programmer and marathon, an event marked by endurance.

The concept of the hackathon was born out of the open source community. Today, engineering departments, especially those at Web-based companies, adopt the practice as a way of introducing intrapreneurship into the enterprise. Hackathons are sometimes undertaken to achieve a specific goal, but often they are a chance for businesses to pursue employee-driven, out-of-the-box ideas in a low-risk environment. Employees are given the freedom and support to collaborate with colleagues in other departments within a given timeframe and without the pressure of having to produce a viable product.

This was last updated in January 2014

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