Since 2001 the FSFE has been enhancing users' rights by abolishing barriers for software freedom. For 20 years we have been helping individuals and organisations to understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination.

For the next two decades we need your help. We want everyone to be able to control their technology. Free Software and its freedoms to use, study, share, and improve are the key to that goal.

Youth Hacking 4 Freedom

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions on the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom you can always reach us with an email to contact [at] fsfe [dot] org. We will be happy to hear from you! However, We have already answered 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 Sunday, 31 October 2021. Our online Opening Day takes place on Sunday, 10 October 17:00 CET.

Step 2. Coding phase

From Monday 1 November 2021 to Thursday 31 March 2022, the participants have five months to come up with an idea for their Free Software program and write it.

Step 3. Evaluation

In April, the jury members evaluate the submitted programs. Afterwards, the winners are announced and invited to Brussels.

Step 4. Award Ceremony

In June 2022, the winners receive their awards in Brussels and join social activities.

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.

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.

Should I come to the Opening Event?

During the Opening Event of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom we will go through basic information that you need to know about the competition: What is Free Software? What will happen the next months in the competition? If there is something about this competition that is unclear to you, you can ask us. We will answer all your questions during the Opening Event. Also, it is a nice opportunity to welcome everyone on board. If you are not sure if you want to compete, you can still register to join the Opening Event to learn more and make up your mind. It is not possible to join the Opening Event without registering the competition, but there is no problem if you register and then let us know whether you would like to proceed.

2. Coding phase

What happens during the coding phase?

From the 1st of November, 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.

Can I chat with other participants?

There is an online meetup accompanying the competition, where you can hang out with other participants, or with some luck find experts that might give you a hint when you get stuck with your project. It uses Matrix, a a Free Software communication platform. If you host your competition project on EduGit, you can immediately view and join the YH4F Space. If you have another Matrix account, just point your client at the #yh4f:edugit.org space. Please remember that we can not guarantee that someone will be able to help you here, we encourage you to also seek help from local communities and people you trust. Also, providing solutions to coding problems in the online meetup is forbidden. The Matrix Space is moderated by the people at Teckids e.V.

What type of software should I make?

Think of a simple program that you wish it existed but you have not found it. Its aim can be artistic, or it can be practical. It can address an everyday problem you have, or it can be just 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. 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, but 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.

Where can I host my repository?

You are free to use a solution that is the most convenient to you. We would not like to limit your options and require a certain hosting, as we are in favour of decentralisation. We strongly encourage you to choose a platform which does not exclude anyone based on their age or other factors in their terms of use, privacy policy, or related documents. If you are unsure, we can recommend using EduGit repository. EduGit is a free Git hosting service designed for use in education, in particular involving children and adolescents in free software development and in lessons. It is set up for your age group, abiding by legal obligations that often other repository providers do not consider. You can register an account at EduGit, or, if you already use another Git hosting provider, you can use that to log in to EduGit so others can contribute freely independent of their age.

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 to your project. We know you are busy with school and possibly other activities too. 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 and learn by doing.

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

If you run into problems in 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 will upload your program and the jury members will evaluate it. Then, you will be invited to present the software yourself to the jury members, and share a few words about yourself. How did you come 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 member 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 too.

4. Award Ceremony

Who is joining the Award Ceremony?

The Youth Hacking 4 Freedom will invite six winners of the competition to Brussels. If you won the competition and you are under 18 we would like to invite a parent of yours, so that you will not travel alone. We will cover the travel and accommodation costs for you and one of your parents. In Brussels, you will meet other winners 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 an educative tour in Brussels, visit the EU Parliament, and enjoy the best spots of this beautiful city. 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 [at] fsfe [dot] org. Or, join our Opening Day and ask us directly. We are here to help you!