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Youth Hacking 4 Freedom

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions on the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom contest you can always reach us via email at contact@fsfe.org. We will be happy to hear from you! However, we have already addressed some questions below that might be helpful.

When and where does YH4F take place?

Step 1. Registration

If you are interested to participate, please make sure to register until 31st of December 2023. Although we are open for late registration and you can always join Youth Hacking 4 Freedom until the 30th of June 2024.

Step 2. Coding phase

From 1st of January 2024 to 30th of June 2024, the participants have six months to come up with an idea for their Free Software program and write it.

Step 3. Evaluation

From June on, the jury members evaluate the submitted programs. And in September we reach out to the winners and invite them to Brussels for the award ceremony. In October the winners will be announced publicly in Brussels during the award ceremony.

Step 4. Award Ceremony

In October 2024, the winners receive their awards in Brussels and join social activities. Here they have the chance to meet the other winners in person, while all costs of the trip are covered.

The competition welcomes participants from all over Europe, therefore it takes place remotely. The award ceremony for the winners takes place in Brussels/Belgium.

1. Registration

I do not have an idea for a software project yet. Can I register?

Yes, only personal information is required for the registration. You can start organising your project after the start of the coding phase.

I am a beginner in programming. Should I participate?

Yes, we would like to encourage you to participate despite being a beginner. Aim to have a program at the end of the coding phase that is simple and completed. Creating a simple program at your age is a major achievement. Everyone who submits a complete program gets a participation certificate.

I do not live in the European Union and I have no European citizenship. Can I register?

Yes, every teenager between 14 and 18 years old who lives in an European country can register. The country you live in does not have to be part of the European Union. Also you do not need to have citizenship from a European countries, as long as your main address is in an European country you can register.

Isn’t hacking illegal?

Hacking is a word that is often misunderstood. It is not about breaking illegally into systems of other people. Instead, hacking means that you think around the corner and make things with computers that are innovative, meaningful, interesting or just fun. It is about taking control over your technology and use it freely for your ideas.

Will I fit in?

Yes, we are welcoming everyone in Youth Hacking 4 Freedom. Technology has to be inclusive so that it addresses all peoples’ needs. The competition is open to people from 40 countries, and welcomes people of all cultural backgrounds and all genders. Your interest in technology is all that is needed for you to fit it perfectly.

2. Coding phase

What happens during the coding phase?

From the 1st of January, it is time to start developing your program. During the coding period you will be invited to an online group meeting. There you will have the chance to present what you have done so far and briefly follow what the other participants are working on. This is a good time for everyone to share ideas and advice that might help others.

Can I collaborate with others?

Collaboration is an intrinsic value of Free Software. You can exchange ideas and collaborate with others, and at the same time you should have a clear understanding of the program you submit.

What type of software should I make?

Think of a simple program that you wish existed but you have not found it yet. Its aim can be artistic, or it can be practical. It can address an everyday problem, or it can just be fun. Everything is welcome and we look forward to seeing your ideas. Of course, it should be Free Software, so that others can use, study, share, and improve the code in the future.

Can I make contributions to other software projects?

Yes, absolutely. You can modify and combine existing programs, contribute to an existing project, or close an issue in the git. If you decide to do so, you should clearly indicate what exactly your contribution was, and what was done by others.

Can my program make use of hardware?

Yes, it is fine if your program involves hardware. However, it is important that we and the jury members are in a position to see how your program works without accessing the hardware. We should be able to run your program on standard Free Software operating systems. If there is hardware involved, please keep in mind that the jury members cannot access it. Please document the software project in a way that the jury members can fully see the result and evaluate it. Share your code and consider additional ways of showing how your program works, such as a video. Please upload all the necessary files to your repository.

How much time should I invest?

It is up to you to choose how much time you want to invest in your project. You do not have to spend all the coding phase working on your project. We know you are busy with school and other activities. You can be flexible with your schedule and plan it as you wish. We are glad to offer you plenty of time so that you can expand your program as much as possible.

I run into a problem while programming. Can I ask the FSFE for help?

If you run into problems with your project, we would encourage you to seek for help from a person you trust, or from an online tech community. There are plenty of coding meetups where you can get specific advice online and offline, and learn by following the work of others. We cannot provide solutions or hints, but you are welcome to get advice from people who can help you.

3. Evaluation

How will I present my idea?

You should upload your program to an git instance and share the link with us. The jury members will then evaluate it. From the submissions a shortlist is created and if you are part of this list you will be invited to present the software yourself to the jury members. Here you can share a few words about yourself. How you came up with your idea? It would be good if you explain the program step by step and show to a jury member what it does. Then, one or two members of the jury will ask you some practical questions. For example: ‘Why did you use this path instead of another?’ That is because we would like to understand your thinking and how you came up with your solution. There is not necessarily one right or wrong answer here. Feel free to share which problems you faced and how you overcame them. The jury members will take into account the age of the participants for the evaluation.

4. Award Ceremony

Who is joining the Award Ceremony?

The Youth Hacking 4 Freedom will invite the six winners of the competition to Brussels. If you won the competition we invite a parent/guardian of yours to join us for the award ceremony. So, you do not have to travel on your own. We will cover the travel and accommodation costs for you and one of your parents/guardians. In Brussels, you will meet other winners, jury members and members of the FSFE team.

Can I come to the Award Ceremony if I have not won the competition?

If you have submitted a complete project but did not win the competition you are welcome to join the award ceremony if you decide to do so. Just let us know in advance. We will be glad to meet you.

What am I going to do in Brussels?

You will spend two days in Brussels, staying in a nice hotel. The FSFE staff will help you get to the venue where the award ceremony takes place. The event will have top speakers in the field of Free Software and it will be a time of celebration. You made it! Your hard work paid off and you will receive your award. You will get to know other winners, FSFE staff members, and guest speakers. We will have various activities planed for you in Brussels and you will spend a weekend full of fun. Meanwhile, you will be spending time with other like-minded Free Software hackers.

For any other question on the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom competition please send us an email to contact@fsfe.org. We are here to help you!