Is Hackership still sharing the OTS values?

Hi guys, is already sometime now that I’m thinking about that and talking around with others members I notice is not just my concern.

Hackership is a great program and is helping a lot of people but now I don’t feel is sharing the OTS values anymore: Being free and open (since people have to pay to join it).
I don’t feel fair to keep in OTS since we decline other interesting proposal during these years just because the ticket was 5 or 10 euro.

I’m not talking about legal stuff (that’s i have no idea how is organize and is not really the most important thing) but i’m talking about how to present our association to the community.
I would suggest to definitely separate the two concept.

That doesn’t mean we will not support Hackership anymore. Of’course we will and of’course the same people will still be able and welcome to take care of both.

What do you think?

I agree on both counts, the motion of your question and the general notion of the answer.

However, Gio, I’m not convinced the direct outcome of that question is helpful. What would “separating the two concepts” mean after all? Removing the project from our Web site? Cancelling all Taste of Hackership events? Prohibiting each and every Hackership pitch at our events?

I’m not sure any of these measures — and help me out if I missed anything — is creating any value. I agree, having a non-aligned project isn’t great but that’s the way it currently is. I think we should maintain the status quo. OTS gets worse by accepting more such programs under its umbrella, but it doesn’t get better by removing the current ones.

The more interesting questions, from my point of view, are:

  1. How can we align Hackership back onto OpenTechSchool values?
  2. How can we make participation in OpenTechSchool more attractive?

I’m not sure if #1 is possible, after all, but the Taste of Hackership events are a good first. We probably didn’t tap into Hackership’s full potential here. What about community seats? Requiring all workshops to be open? Co-hosting? Maybe Hackership needs to grow more mature to give back?

#2 is the real culprit in my opinion: Hackership is such a nuisance for the OpenTechSchool because it drained our most valuable resource — time. If we could make it easier, or more rewarding, to participate in OTS organization we wouldn’t have that problem. (And, honestly, that problem isn’t solved by excluding Hackership from our community, for some of their staff make up the very foundations of OTS.)


Excuse my english if I couldn’t make the question constructive enough. Is of’course my intention to have a positive output for everybody coming out from this Topic.

Starting from your, both very good, questions:
2. I don’t really see we need to make our OTS events more attractive. I cannot talk for all our events but we never have problems to get people and most of the feedbacks are positive.
So maybe i’m not getting the point of your question, but I don’t see this as a problem and I don’t see how is related to Hackership and OTS topic.

What Hackership offer is something more advanced and something that OTS cannot offer, that is also why I see the two things as separate things.

About the 1. question, unfortunately you already answer. Isn’t really possible.
In OTS we don’t have many values, we are not so strict but one of our core value is Openess and another is Non profit and for super reasonable reasons Hackership cannot support them, that means to me that it cannot stay under OTS umbrella. If we start to ‘excuse’ our value because is a good cause, because is a good project, well then we have thousand of ‘good and valuable projects’.
So even at the question ’ What would “separating the two concepts” mean after all?'
I say, yes it means unrelated it from OTS ( not a sister project anymore but a project that OTS support and recommend), create Hackership own meetup page and meetups.
That’s doesn’t mean canceling Taste of Hackership, means doing them as Hackership group, not OTS.
Doesn’t mean ‘Prohibiting each and every Hackership pitch at our events’ - of’course!! - HK will be always supported as I already said in my first post.

During these 2 years we already had several good requests from external associations which we gently decline because not fitting our values. I don’t see a reason why we should make an exception here. Because the idea came form inside our team?

For give you a real example:
Let’s take RailsGirls - I love the idea of the project and they do great job helping people/learners, but we disagreed on make it just for women and just Rails (against our openness value) so we decided to create our own community but we still support them, help them, collaborate with them and even create events/workshops together whenever we have the chance.

I don’t see Hackership in any how, different from this example.

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Gio, thanks for bringing it up. This is definitely pretty complex, as it involves interpretations of values, and stuff that is still very fluid, both from the Hackership side, and in terms of process at OTS.

Hmm. how can we know this, unless we first look at what the options for realignment are?!

I agree. Gio i understand your ‘fairness’ point in relation to other initiatives, particularly if we were starting fresh, or in a vacuum… But I don’t think this can apply retrospectively. Rather, we have to deal with the situation we have now. Will the OTS be better for kicking out HS?

Yes! I support this, especially as doing so would entail us first getting a shared understanding on how the current association benefits and harms all three parties (Hackership, OTS the institution, and OTS Community members). And where the areas of values are not aligned. (This would also be useful for future planning, so that if both parties want, it can stay realigned)

From my impression, we don’t have that higher level consensus on what the situation/problem is now. Even discussing informally at drinks, there were very different opinions amongst OTS members. Whilst individual opinions may always differ, we need consesus at an institutional level to get anywhere. how or who this comes from I dont know. But, for example I do not agree that HS does not share the value of openness.

My position would also be to maintain current status quo, for now. From a pragmatic viewpoint, Hackership has only run one full time batch and it would put a substantial strain on the initiative to keep going and figure out all of this simultaneously. Suggest to return to it in the second half of 2015.

Hackership is also still experimenting with different models and so, in that sense, it is both too soon to make a decision on this, but also not necesscary, as nothing is set in stone regards the HS model.

But, are there any immediate and urgent areas of strong concern that currently pose a serious threat to OTS the institution and/or its community members?

If Yes, lets come up with something to fix that.

I also think it is good to look at why OTS has certain values, and point out that there are different ways to embody the same values, The spirit as well as the letter of the law is important, and for me HS and OTS are still aligned.

Disclosure on Alumni donation model:

Coaches for the Summer batch just gone, and the January planned Batch coming, still completely volunteer their time, for free.

Currently Hackership for the next batch running in Gran Canaria in January is asking for an upfront investment from participants so that any coaches who volunteer can have their flights covered, and hopefully some accommodation, as we will be abroad.

We are trialling this also because previous attendees said they would prefer to know upfront what the donation would be (as previously it was a percentage of their first years income, and some people said the uncertainty of this was offputting)

For the next Summer Batch in Berlin, this could change, if it turns out people prefer the almuni donation model/ and this is more in line with OTS values, i.e. HS stays free at the point of access.

The Hackership will not make any profit, and any that it does is legally obliged to go back into OpenTech School as a donation.


I like! Let’s find a way to make it possible :smile:

mhm next batch will be not open to every learners that cannot afford it. that is not openness for me, but you can explaine me better why you think HS is also open.

Anyway as you said there

no, there are nothing urgent and I agree that HS is still sperimental and trying new models so maybe, one day it will go back to completely free model. But i’m not so ok on “maintain the status quo”

Honestly, is since we start OTS that we “maintain the status quo” because we don’t have time to re-think OTS in general, because is a big topic, because everybody have different opinion and we carry on with all our branches of different topic(pyhton, frontend, kids, …). Every time there was new opportunity, new events or new proposal we decided based on our values. Is the only thing we all agree on and we all agree on whatever follow them is OTS.
We should also totally care a bit more about general OTS vision, where we want to go and how we want to accomplish our goals. But that’s start to be another topic, a big one.

What I want to say is that i’m ok to let things go a on their own a little but not too much, otherwise we’ll become one of those Berlin Startup where people are super stressed out about details and forgot what is the main focus and goal and doing so they close after 2 years.
(I’m not saying we’ll “close” soon, is just an example.)

This is the reason why i care about this topic. I don’t want let things go how they are, because we’ll never going to come back and re-discuss it later.
Since the HS idea came out, we never really discuss all together how these two things (OTS and HS) could go along together. We wait to see where was the direction, i think the project is mature enough, at least enough to discuss internally in OTS.


Hey all,

thanks Gio for raising this topic, I also agree that this issue needs discussion. I see two different concerns here that have surfaced in this thread, and I think they require two different discussions:

  • Does Hackership still fit under the umbrella of OTS? Personally, I also think it is time for Hackership to become a separate entity. The program is far removed from what OTS does during in its regular operations, and, as Gio has pointed out, does not really fit the OTS values any longer, either. This does not mean Hackership is not a valuable undertaking, just that both from a strategic and operational standpoint, OTS and Hackership have long parted ways and are not really held together by anything other than some overlap in organizers. I don’t buy the argument that we should wait longer for a “better moment”, because looking at the history of Hackership, there has never been an “appropriate moment” to discuss this, and looking at the future plans I don’t see any better moment arising, so now is as good as any moment. Given that Hackership with Batch-2 will be both a commercial project with an upfront fee and geographically located somewhere where no OTS involvement from part-time coaches and learners is possible, this seems in fact like the perfect moment to do the split.

  • Does Hackership take resources from OTS? This was a point emphasized by Robert, and I wholeheartely agree. It is obvious that due to some key folks of OTS and Hackership being the same folks, that these folks cannot contribute to OTS and HS their full attention. I also suspect that our lack of innovative OTS activities beyond the co-learning groups and a few other regular meetups driven by a few committed individuals and our overall lack of organizational coherence in OTS this year partly comes from that split of attention. I personally don’t think it is a coincidence that OTS activity went down exactly in the same time that HS activity went up. I would expect that splitting HS from OTS might bring some clarity as to which organizational resources and commitment from individuals OTS still has available. However, I also don’t think that more of this will be available for OTS coming from such a split. Instead, we should probably be more open and agressive about recruiting new organizers for OTS. It is normal that after more than 2 years of OTS existence, some people (not just those involved in HS) feel that their interests have moved on and are less involved. However, we should aknowledge that openly and find a “new guard” of other people that want to carry on with running OTS.




hi there,

I edited this post again, because I felt it was written a bit terse and not bringing my points over very well.

some thoughts on ellens post and the posts before:

  • commercial and not-for-profit are different things to me. Charlotte stated, that Hackership is non-profit. I can not see, why this shouldn’t be true. What the reasons to call it commercial?
  • I don’t know if this planned by the Hackership organizers, but OTS itself is not only geographically located in Berlin and that could be a chance to spawn a OTS group there? Since some of the talks of hackership will be public, afaik, it could give something to the community there.

  • About splitting things up: Some of the points, that was discussed to be split sound not overly complicated to separate (different meetup group, make a bigger disctinction on websites).


Hi there,
I was send here to learn more about OTS/HS and coaching and I find this discussion important enough to add my comment.
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same boat regarding the values you’re talking about. According to the website, these are:

  1. Openness
  2. Empowerment
  3. Hands-on learning
  4. Welcoming learning environment
  5. Transparency
  6. Not for Profit

Is that correct?

Unfortunately I couldn’t find an answer to the question: "What are you doing with your knowledge and/or the things you’ve learned?"
While I seriously interested in the answers, this is an approach to shift the focus to what matters.

Assuming that most of the attendees like to use the things learned in any way in their nearer life it is a “value” they get out of OTS.
And even more if this “value” is a part or the base of making a living. This value has to come from somewhere and even if knowledge transfer for free is one part, there are others like bills to pay or handle organisational things etc. to make this happen at all.

AFAIK, while OTS is more a “relaxed” learning, HS is oriented more towards compact learning with a more straightforward outcome than OTS, an advanced version of OTS so to say.
So both are ONE thing with a slightly “blurred” line inbetween.
I personally see the differentiation of OTS and HS under one umbrella as an advance since people can decide to learn the relaxed and easy way or to learn focussed on a certain outcome.
They do NOT differ related to the values above, they are complements! And that is what I’d like to point out!
Evolution is part of any progress and you’re already on a good move by trying to figure how the idea of OTS can “survive” AND be developed further by the different approaches of remuneration for HS.
When you split OTS and HS apart you take the possibility away from attendees to shift between both parts.

You (the founders, makers, coaches) have created something very extraordinary!
But PLEASE, don’t go the way the “Piratenpartei” went!!!
Don’t destroy the things you created by insisting on personal opinions or ignoring facts! Focus on the whole/big picture!

Just my 2 cent!


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Hey everyone,

(Disclaimer, I’m the head organiser of Hackership, while also Chairperson of the Foundation currently).

thanks, @anaketa, for bringing this up. It is something I wanted to have a discussion about for quite a while but it was totally unclear what the proper process for that would be. But I am very happy we started this fruitful discussion.

Maybe to make things a little more clear, I start with a short overview of the status quo, where we came from and what the intention was on how to take it from here:

The status quo of HS

As we speak we are in midst of creating our own company to run Hackership from and with. That has two main reasons: the legal entity that we have been using (e.V.) can’t legally run this (you can discuss this in detail with me directly, if you like), secondly to protect the very same OpenTechSchool from legal implications coming from the company. This newly funded company is and will be running the next iteration of Hackership already.

HS within OpenTechSchool

The way, we imaged Hackership to be eventually was as a TEDx-like Social Franchise, which anyone could eventually run under this brand as long as they follow certain standards and criteria in doing so. While one of them would be that any profits or higher earnings have to go to the OTS umbrella organisation, we did not say that things can’t be commercial. In any case would the OTS organisation have the legal authority over the brand, the global community have the saying what that brand stands for and how it may or may not be executed and it would be in the Foundations board to ensure that.

The current relationship

Out of that we have modelled the way that the company would run this, as a brand licensing contract with the Foundation. But as we are not, at the moment, at the state where we have all of the programme figured out and can just leave it with others but are still very much experimenting on getting it work in the first place, that licensing contract does acknowledge that. (You find the latest copy here). It basically goes along the lines of the following:

  • the brand belongs to OTS, OTS has full ownership rights
  • it grants the exclusive usage to Hash Picker UG (the new company) for execution and experimentation until the end of 2015
  • at that time OTS can decide whether what Hash Picker is doing may be ok to stay under the Hackership Terms or whether it wants to retract the Brand
  • if no further agreement is made by then, Hash Picker UG looses the rights to use that brand
  • IF HP would make any profits, they would have to donate them to the Foundation

This contract had been discussed and agreed upon within the OTS Foundation board but hasn’t been signed yet. It is however, the legal base the new company is working in.

The big picture

So, much about the status quo. I already mentioned in there, why we structured it this way. Because we believed from the start that although this programme requires full-time attention and is a lot of work, it can potentially be working on the same blueprint-system as OTS did and can have a similar growth if done right. And, we never were in it for the money – it wouldn’t exist if we were. So it was always clear that any potential earnings have to go back to that community this and hopefully more future programmes come out of. Hence the contract.

Governing HS

And I think that is actually an important part and reason why OTS should want to keep ownership of HS. Unlike many other programmes we have been working with or not working with, the influence this community had over what happened – also with any potential money raised – was always very little. Out of the pure reason that we would only be a partner. In that sense HS is much different to any corporation or startup that ever approached us: it is the OTS, which is deciding where this programme goes and I intend to keep it that way.

Also for the future in which there might be one or more programmes running world-wide, I am very fond of the idea of having a purely community based (we don’t even allow corporate members at the moment) Foundation govern what the programme looks like. To ensure it doesn’t become about money (which I doubt it ever will, the odds are just stacked against that), sticks to the values and goals and doesn’t get all wishy washy from commercial sponsorship.

That said, I don’t believe this can work if the OTS has to do the day to day decision making for every HS. I’d rather think of it as a specific type of chapter of OTS and similar to local teams, the Foundation only has to step up and intervene if things are unclear, need direction or there are problems. This, like any other chapter, needs its own freedom in previously agreed upon boundaries. And I’d like the OTS to be the one setting the boundaries.

A few personal comments:

I obviously disagree with the notion that HS is not within the values of OTS. Otherwise there be no point discussing. I do strongly believe HS is and can be a complementary programme, where pure volunteering work can’t deliver any more (and shouldn’t). But what I would like to have is a open discussion within OTS about the values. We have grown and changed a lot since the last time we revisited the values. As a matter of fact, I think I am about the only person still within OTS, who was part of the Team writing the current version – almost two years ago. And so many things have happened since.

I do disagree with the idea that this has been a lack of innovation or commitment for OTS caused by HS. Aside from me strongly believing HS is OTS, we have totally changed the way that co-learning groups work, we added evening talk-sessions (as HS-presents-Sessions), we took over the IT-Student-Labs and have been supporting the local Science Hack Day and School of MA. I am personally a little offended here, when told that HS was taking away time from OTS, while organising the python co-learning group (almost) every other week as well as being at every Thursday-Orga-meeting even if only to close the shades and clean up co.up while waiting to see if foreigners might arrive to talk to me. (Don’t worry, I am not very offended :wink: )

Taking it from here

As the contracts stand, the company will try to build the brand HS up into a programme which can run by itself by the end of next year. And I’d suggest to take the question of whether this requires a harder split or not, to then, when we have a little more idea if this actually works or not. The programme will of course take the points mentioned here into account. One thing that is very clear is that many things done are not communicated well towards OTS at the moment (like diversity grants to support exactly those, who can’t afford it) and that needs to get better.

I think we are “split” clearly enough on that regard.

One thing, where this still is complicated, lies in me being chairperson for the board of the foundation, which is governing the exact programme, I spend most of my time with. This clearly isn’t very balanced, nor clear in separations of responsibilities. And although my hope was that HS would be running good enough by itself by then, for me to step out of it a little more, I am afraid this isn’t going to happen before this January, when we are legally bound to elect a (new) Board for the OTS Foundation. And of course one of the primary concerns of the board are setting the tone and strategy of OTS in the future, as well as overseeing HS and other programmes (like Student-Labs).

So, I welcome anyone, who wants to take the seat in the board (and I dunno about the others, but it appears to me that @stefanhoth, as well as @amelie are quite busy with other things, too). Of course I will assist with everything that is needed and can offer to still take care of administrative stuff like accounting.

Thanks for reading this far :slight_smile: .


Communication issues inside the OTS:

  • what are OTS values (vs. “my” values vs. “my” motivation)
  • what is hackership doing
  • mostly different people working on Hackership and the rest
  • inefficient and only yearly meeting of organizers
  • a changing set of volunteers

Could be, these issues created this discussion.

What is the OpenTechSCHOOL in Berlins to me as a negative view, “downsides”:

  • a collection of materials
    • unconnected, not wholistic
  • weekly meetups in the evening
  • bound to one place
  • a changing set of volunteers

I feel like Hackership does not have these downsides so much. Therefore allows other people to join it, openness++.
If we kick out Hackership as a big step into another direction, how should we

  1. improve on the downsides
  2. encourage differing activities (other time slots, other target audience)

We profit from long-term courses.
How do I organize long-term courses for learners?
I do not, sadly. But should I make it harder?

If Hackership is separate from the OpenTechSchool, the OpenTechSchool will become less open.
We can improve Hackership and the OTS - keep the values and know the differences between the programs inside of OTS.

Thank you Ben for you very exhaustive and informative answer. That clarify many things and help to understand others.

Some of my thoughts about it:

  • For what I got when we created the foundation, board and chairperson are more something we have to state for legal reason than actually people with more power in OTS. I think, this kind of decisions, should be discussed within everybody interested, since OTS is a open community and we always state that board is just a legal stuff we have to do.
  • What OTS need this money for? Since we start it we never need money and many time talking with the community and with coaches, come out that pay coaches to do their OTS job will make everything more complicated and delicate.
    There is a plan on how invest the money raised from HK?
    If yes, that one of the thing we should discuss all together.
  • it might be a good idea to wait until the end of the 2015 before take any decision but I still believe we need more communication, as you said.
    This topic is already a great starting point, many things are already cleared or communicated.
    One thing i already see as in need to improvement and set as clear point, is that every decision or proposals we think can involve also OTS, OTS value or OTS vision, should be discussed and communicated in a general place. Not just within HK team or Foundation board members.

Personally i have a controversial feeling within this topic.
I do think these two are two separate program and should be separate entity, at least on the papers.
But then looking the results and how learners enjoy it and love it, I think the two should just find a way to go together.
Real life is more important then law and papers.

Saying that I still have one big concern and personally is the thing that give me hard time to accept HK as OTS:
From this batch, with an upfront fee, we have to admit HK is not open to everybody anymore, and this is one of our strongest value.
Education should be free and everybody should be able to enjoy it. And now is not. Is not at all since the fee is rather hight.
Do you think we can in some one find a solution to that?

Gio just raised a very very important point that I have missed so far, but that I think captures my frustration with HS: The intransparent way in which HS is organized and how on important decision the rest of OTS is neither informed or involved (not even he Berlin org, but even less so the rest of OTS outside of Berlin). That includes the question of what is happening with all the money that HS collects (starting with the Kickstarter campaign last winter), which, as Gio pointed out, OTS does not need in our current model of operation.

Based on this intransparency (which I do not think stems from intentional secrecy, just from a lack of priority given to involving OTS more in decisions), it is really easy for miscommunication to happen. @ben, you may feel perfectly justified in your approach to Hackership and OTS (and you might perfectly be), but from the outside, it is very hard to tell what is going on, and that creates the current discomfort and distrust that is expressing itself here in this discussion.

So please, please, please, if you want to maintain HS as part of OTS, introduce more transparency and involvement of the wider community in such important matters!


From what I understood, it is not necessarily so, that every coming batch will have the upfront fee. But maybe someone with further knowledge can clarify this.
So would it make a difference for your opinion, if future batches are run at the same conditions as batch-0 and batch-1? Maybe this can be discussed?

Its certainly higher than free, but compared to other programs, it is not so high. I am not sure, if that comparison can be made. Because I see HS as something different from commercial offers. There are still a lot of important values in it that others might not have. And there is a good amount of voluntary commitment in it, which makes it special in my eyes and brings it near to OTS.
I am not against separating concerns and to me this thread shows there is something happening with that. But I still feel both entities, OTS and HS can benefit from the other and should stay related in some way. This is not very specific suggestion, but I think we can figure this out.

It is a bit back to a point that Robert made above: Is re-alignment of both possible or not?

Hope we don’t get stuck in an infinite loop here :smile:


The next two batches have been announced.

Batch 3 Earlybird cost 2450 Euro, Regular cost 2550 Euro
Batch 4 Earlybird cost 4450 Dollar, Regular cost 4550 Dollar

Hi everybody,
i finally got little more time so i’m going forward with this trend and as we said, the organisation of a meeting in order to discuss and clarify this topic for whoever is interested.

What about meet up on Monday 16th or 17th March (place still tbc)?
How many of you would be free** and willing to join it? (Even Skype/Hang out call is perfect)

PLEASE reply here till the 12th of March

I might be able to attend on Monday (16th) after 8pm. I am definitely out on the 17th.
Edit: I am not sure we need a separate meeting for this, wouldn’t this be a perfect topic for the review meeting?

mhm not sure but it might be. I thought we discuss that on the last orga meeting and we decided to do in two separate meeting (don’t remeber why right now), isn’t it?

Anyway I’m up to do it together also we could save time but i don’t want to steal to much time to the review meeting for this topic nor cut the topic down because of the time
Also is possible that people interested in this topic aren’t willing to join the whole review meeting…
but we can maybe fix this setting time for HK discussion…

I don’t remember anything about having two separate meetings for the HK discussion and the review meeting. We did discuss two meetings at the orga meetup, but one is the foundation meeting and the other one the review meeting. I am not sure if we should encourage people to attend only the HK discussion but not the review meeting, but it would be easy to set up a fixed timeslot for the HK discussion at the review meeting and just attend that discussion. However, my 2 cents is that folks who care enough about OTS to care about the HK discussion should and will also care enough to attend the review meeting.

this is a really long thread.
i think ive gone back and forth with this topic myself but now i feel i have a new understanding.
the value of OTS has to do with education.
educating people so they can be the best they can be and live the kind of life they
want to live. this goes beyond what free courses can offer to people.
i kind of feel over "free"
its nice and generous of community members to donate so much of their time
but it is not inherently “better” than offering a paid course.
in fact the value that comes with paying a teacher a fair wage, well i think there is merit and high value in that.

im thinking about the school systems in the US for example. so many teachers are unhappy and dissatisfied because they do not make enough money to deal with the current situation of what a classroom is these days. they deserve a fair wage because education is the most important aspect of society.

and funny this is not even the current situation of hackership because most of the organisers and teachers are still not making any money from it.

i put my vote on the value of teachers and proper education where everyone wins.

not sure if i’ll be in town for that meeting but if not, happy to see if we can work out a skype participation.

cheers everyone