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Show HN: hackathon for introverts (hackalone.org)
72 points by JacksonGariety on Nov 5, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 48 comments

I tend to dislike the idea of labeling introverts and generalizing them.

I used to be solidly in that introvert group, accepting that it was completely fine to want to be alone, that it was who I was and that I should be proud of it.

I went through a huge shift in college (one of the reasons I believe college is a great experience) and now I'm far more extroverted than I used to be, truly a sea change.

I believe that this change has been incredibly positive for me, and I wish I hadn't held myself back so much by being too complacent with my personality.

You are who you are, and you shouldn't hate yourself or do anything harmful to your self confidence, but don't be afraid of change either! And for pete's sake, don't pigeon-hole yourself into a category just because you think you fit it. Over your life, you will change more than you know, and hopefully for the better—there's no reason to limit yourself.

So my recommendation is to collaborate as much as possible, go outside your comfort zone, break the barriers that make you cringe, and learn from it to grow as a person and as a coder.

You may be conflating shyness, social intelligence and introversion. Just for clarity, here are some definitions which I don't assume everyone knows.

Shyness "is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness experienced when a person is in proximity to, approaching, or being approached by other people, especially in new situations or with unfamiliar people"[0]

Social Intelligence "describes the exclusively human capacity to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments"[1]

Introversion is "the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life".[2]

When I was younger, I was told that all of these things were the same , and I was very confused. While I felt more connected to my inner world than the outer world, I had no problem dealing with situations (such as parties, events, etc) where I met a large number of people. I wouldn't actively seek these types of encounters out, but would navigate them (often with compliments) when they came up. However, afterwords I would feel physically and mentally exhausted. Only later in life did I learn a more nuanced view about introversion/extroversion that dealt with which situations one finds more or less rewarding.

I personally find small teams, often just me, highly rewarding and engaging. Afterwards I feel mentally recharged, and can continue such encounters for very long amounts of time. Conversely, I find that large groups are very draining, and I have to take more time to recharge.

I would generally rank in the middle-lower levels in shyness. I don't actively seek out encounters with strangers, but I do not feel a high level of apprehension or awkwardness. For social IQ, I'd rate myself as average. I can talk someone's ear off, understand empathy, and social situations do not generally throw me off balance. However, for introversion I'm near the top. Given any particular situation, I would prefer to be alone or in small groups, even to point of possible negative social/group consequences (which I generally understand and accept as the cost of the trade-off).

So while I agree with you that some introverts are pigeon-holing themselves, there are people, like myself, who value their introversion and do not feel that it is a limitation.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shyness [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_IQ [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introversion

Edit: Typos

Yep, I'm fully aware of and completely understand the psychological definitions of the terms, and studied them a great deal. I still identify as on the introverted side of the scale. And I hope my post did not appear to be attacking introversion or introverted people, because it's not. I just want people to understand the labels and make sure they're not limiting themselves by self-reinforcing or groupthink.

Thanks for all the links, great definitions and resources there for people who may not understand the differences.

Thanks for these definitions. In a post on Hackalone, I had incorrectly lumped together "antisocial" and "introverted" as synonyms. Your definitions (and a comment from a reader) clearly highlighted my error.

Irony: I'd classify myself as introverted and antisocial. But not anymore. Now I'm just introverted ;)

Unless you have a tendency to commit criminal acts or something against society, which is the definition of antisocial, the appropiate word you are looking for is asocial.

@victorhn is right, the two words are often confused.

People don't address and recognize sensory issues sufficiently. In my case, I enjoy interacting with others. However, I simply cannot tune out their presence in my immediate environment.

I'm happy to collaborate with others, meeting and then going off to my own (quiet) space to think further and to implement.

Electronic communication also helps me, as I can control the level and times of sensory input / stimulation it provides. And even while interacting, I'm less overwhelmed by the immediate physical presence of another person or people.

If you are like me, I recommend not straining overly in an attempt to force yourself to "adapt" to today's typical, noisy and distracting physical "collaboration" environment. I've been at it for several decades, and it just doesn't work.

People simply love the work I do, when I'm given the resource and left in peace to do it. (I do engage with others, freely; however, this is not -- incessantly and counter-productively and irrelevantly -- forced upon me.

Please save yourself the aggravation I've gone through. Leave bad environments, until you find one that accepts how you function and fosters your excellence within that context. Do work to grow and expand your abilities; however, beware of demands that are instead excessively stressing you, diminishing your productivity, and wearing you down. That is a long-term course to failure.

P.S. I'll add that I tend to be very good at teaching and training, because I really pay attention to the other person or people and work from where I find them to be at, in knowledge and conception. I've often received thanks and comments from people who've told me that it's the first time they've really gotten the topic at hand.

If there are lingering doubts about my ability to collaborate and work with others, I'd cite this as a prime counter-argument.

I see your point, so I'm here to clarify: I'm praising being an introvert here, not condemning it. This was site was made specifically to help those of us who have trouble fitting in with large teams still engage in the social coding movement!

You should read my post more carefully. It wasn't aimed at condemning introversion, but instead, mildly condemning your praise of it. But after thinking about it more, I still think it's a good thing you're doing—but you should (in my opinion) provide pathways to growth and working together as well. You can provide a fear-free comfortable environment for introverts without locking them out of social interaction. :)

We host a ton of hackathons. And at every event, there are inevitably developers who prefer to work on their own, rather than joining teams. Their creations are often on par with the team driven projects. But they're still (pun intended) odd person out.

Love the idea of getting a bunch of these solo hackers together in the same room to see what they can accomplish.

We've been doing this for a few weeks, and it's super fun. Want to get some more people together and do them on a regular basis.

Also, use command `shit HN says` to hear shit hacker news says. There are a bunch of other commands as well not listed in help.

Thanks for the tip- that was pretty entertaining. Love the design and attention to detail...up arrow repeats last command. It's a refreshing departure from typical info sites and aimed well at the target.

Be sure to check the source code for more interesting commands. I particularly liked the attention to grammar :).

great design for your audience -- reminds me of http://hackertyper.net/ -- for those moments where you need to pretend like you're a total badass

unfortunately, you can't play "global thermonuclear war"

That's probably a team thing though.

Love the idea. Any chance of getting information on the next event? The "next event" listed was apparently for 3am this morning (which I would have been up for).

You can schedule them yourself. Try the 'start event' command.

"4. Only one guy to a each hack"

Oh, okay then.

s/guy/person/ would be an improvement, yes.

Or 'participant' or 'contributor'. Making the terminology a little more descriptive seems to make it easier to not end up with gendered terms, and I can't speak for anybody else but -I- certainly need all the help I can get to not screw this sort of thing up.

Also "select a player at random and plug him into the projector".

They're using the non-gendered form of "guy".

and I believe this is becoming more common.. i believe the gendered-ness of "guy" also has a regional component to it, but I have no hard data to back that claim up. I agree with the other poster that using more descriptive "contributor" avoids gender issues altogether..

Edit: after doing some more thinking/research, I now believe that the non-gendered form is "guys", but that is still gender-biased: if you were in a room and said "can all the guys sit on this side of the room?" the women would likely not move to that side of the room. Similarly, if you were describing a robbery and you said "a short guy with a purple hood", it would not be ambiguous that you were talking about a male robber.

> if you were in a room and said "can all the guys sit on this side of the room?"

Interesting. What would happen if you said "can all you guys sit on this side of the room?"

I agree that other words avoid this problem and are more descriptive.

There's no such thing. "Guys", plural, is sometimes non-gendered, but I have never heard the singular refer to a female person.

Apparently it's aimed at introverts with Twitter accounts. I can't imagine something less attractive to an introvert than broadcasting your life publicly.

I can't speak for every introvert, but I will say that, for me, introversion does not preclude me from maintaining a blog, Twitter, etc.

Yeah, I don't broadcast my life -- but I talk about things that are interesting to me, and the Internet gives me a nice medium that I can use without feeling the willpower drain that comes from having constant face-to-face interaction.

Tweeting != broadcasting your life publicly. At least, not necessarily.

Moreover, why would a bunch of introverts want to get together for this? Why would they want to make presentations about what they've done? I'm all for clever ideas but there's so many social elements to this I don't see why I'd do this if I'm not doing hackathons. If you're not social, you're not social--the end.

In a similar fashion to a few comments above, you may be conflating shyness for introversion. One can be introverted and social at the same time. Presentations specifically are a very different form of social interaction than ad-hoc interaction with large groups; one involves speaking _to_ people while the other involves speaking _with_ people. For example, I rank pretty high on the "I" side of the MBTI[1] but I enjoy giving presentations and speeches and I'm even a member of a Toastmasters club [2]. Given the choice of presenting organized information to a group versus chatting up a bunch of partygoers, I will almost always choose the former.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator

[2] http://www.toastmasters.org/

Edit: clarity

I think it's pretty amusing that you've decided to interpret a mass of comments from people who find this idea ridiculous as an opportunity to educate us all about the distinction between introversion and shyness. Clearly if this distinction is meaningful, this idea will be a big hit. When it instead falters, will you consider the possibility that perhaps you're just unusual, rather than that we are all uneducated?

aashay is hardly the first person to decide the distinction is meaningful:


Some people may use Twitter to follow information, not just broadcast. Also I have friends who are very extroverted online but when they get into a flesh meet they become quiet. So I wouldn't say using Twitter is entirely without merit.

Some people may use twitter to follow information, not just broadcast. Also I have friends who are very extroverted online but when they get into a flesh meet they become quiet. So I wouldn't say this is entirely without merit.

I love love LOVE the terminal emulation idea for an informative website. I had fun just poking around with the commands, and I got my information on what it was and how everything goes sooo much faster than clicking through links. Bravo on UX for this site!

I loved the UX too.

The output of help re-flows when the window is re-sized. But the output of other 'commands' didn't reflow. I'm not sure if that's a feature or not.

But it's a really nice way to present information.

It says the next event is in Portland, OR at 03:00 on 11/5 however it is currently 09:00 on 11/5 there. Assuming it's the local time zone, the event should be an old event. There aren't any time zones that would fit either, must be a bug.

Are there designers who prefer to work alone as well? I would love to see a hackathon-y mechanism for putting introvert/solo coders together with introvert/solo designers, like a development-oriented Chatroulette.

Hackalones aren't specific to coders, you can design hack as well.

I love this idea!

I could never attend a "normal" hackathon because, while I really enjoy being sociable and interacting with others, I struggle with my focus. I need quiet and solitude to really get any coding done.

This is cool.

font-weight: bold;

would increase readability.

How do I join a hackalone?

Very nice interface.

You can make your own!

the competitor in me wants there to be a winner! adorable idea though.

Nice hack, but what is the point? How is this useful?

To learn and become a better programmer but with: No teams, no stress, no conflict resolution.

Because even if you want to work alone it's nice to know that other people are doing the same thing at the same time. Provides a nice sense of camaraderie without the messy actually talking to people disrupting your floe.

A bunch of people individually hacking on the same problem may find novel approaches that would not be found (or worked on) by a team.

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