What makes a developer challenge successful?
in Flattr on 24.02.2012 17:04

With the conclusion of the first ever Flattr developer challenge it is great time to ask - what are the aspects that create a successful developer competition? Lots of participants, breadth of entries, high quality of solutions - how to trigger this?

We’re interested in learning from other’s experience how to make it bigger and better next time.


Last year at Mendeley, we ran a developer challenge on top of our public API. Based on our experience with this (and I don't speak on behalf of Mendeley, just personally), I would say that the 3 biggest factors would be:

- How passionate and able the community is
Obviously if your product community has a heavy overlap with people who have programming ability, you're more likely to get good uptake. If you have a community with strong beliefs and are passionate about solving problems (like the flattr community clearly is), then that's another huge plus.

- How much potential there is for creative and interesting solutions
People are often motivated by creating things that interest them. If your product is designed as a platform for others to build interesting things, then you'll be well on your way.

- How robust the API is (if it's a challenge based around an API, as opposed to a concept or theme)
If your API is hard to work with, or incomplete, people are just going to get frustrated when they have great ideas and are unable to implement them. This has the potential to kill any plusses from the above 2 points.

You can find more about the challenge we ran here: