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February 18, 2010

First Annual Yelp Hackathon

What do you get when you put a gaggle of engineers in a room for 48 hours with nerf guns, Chimay and a whole lot of imagination? Besides a few nap breaks, you get over 15 innovative projects created by our developer, systems and product teams!


A few weeks ago, we hosted our first Yelp Hackathon, an event that we plan to hold again moving forward (though this is contingent on whether deodorant is packed. You know who you are). It's an opportunity for our engineering team to spend time on projects that they think would be useful, funny or cool for Yelp - and in fact, we had an awards ceremony Friday that honored just that criteria. The winners included:

Useful: Adam D., Duncan C. and Shivaram L. analyzed Yelp's business queue - ie: changes that are submitted to a business listing, categories, etc - and found ways to effectively cut down its size.
Funny: Yelp CTO Russ S., Evan K. and Daniel C. created our very own Yelp MUD for HQ and San Francisco (for those of us who are non-techy: multi user dungeon). Basically, we're giving Dungeons and Dragons a run for its money.
Cool: John B., Bakun and Julien R. built an actual Yelp burst that lights up as reviews come in on the site as well as reflects how many stars that yelper gave for that business. We have it hanging in Yelp HQ so we are always reminded of the great reviews that keep rolling in!


But there were many more projects to come out of the Hackathon, including a pivot on "Review Highlights" that would let you see businesses that share the same term such as "Fried Chicken" or "Dirty Martini" so you can target your search for exactly what you're hungry (or thirsty) for even more. Another project, "Blend It", is a feature that recommends businesses based on other businesses. For example, if you enter the business Di Fara Pizza it will recommend like businesses. Think Pandora, but for local.

Of course, these are just a few of the creations that were conceived and built by our top-notch team. Some of these - as well as others not mentioned - you might see on the site in the very near future. But if you're interested in learning more, then find out what our engineers do day-to-day; and if you think you have what it takes for the next Yelp Hackathon, apply here!