I recently participated at Startup Weekend DC which was part of the Global Startup Battle where we built Stream Motion, it turns a #hashtag into a photo stream designed specifically for events. (Try entering #SWDC to see what Startup Weekend DC was like)
I've participated in a lot of Startup Weekends, once as an organizer and countless other times as an attendee. I love it. I always have a great time, meet awesome people and get a chance to work on something interesting.
This one had one element I really disliked: The Global Startup Battle Hashtag Battle
Look at this screenshot:
The #1 ranked team has 22,000 tweets per hour. Let's consider how much that is.
22256 / 60 = 371 tweets per minute.
If every tweet took 1 second to post that's 6.18 human hours wasted per hour tweeting.
But looking at these numbers, we all know they are fake. There is no way any event was legitimately generating that volume of tweets.
How do I know? Because I've written different bots and tools for Twitter for years including my Master's Thesis. I turned on a few during the DC event for fun because I had them setup already. Most of the 24,000 tweets in DC were caused by me playing with my bots (probably 20,000 or so were me).
Every city in the top 6 definitely cheated (and probably ones below as well).
So what's the point?
I had fun toying with my Twitter bots, but I've attended a lot of events and the experience isn't new to me. I think it does detract from the whole experience overall though.
There is/was zero benefit for participants to take part in the Hashtag Battle.
It was a giant distraction that obviously captured the attention of a few people, judging by the volume of cheating. And since it's just a cheat-off, what benefit does it really have for anyone?
I think Startup Weekend should be about the event itself, the 'global' battle component can happen with actual startups competing instead of #wastingtime.
TL;DR: Global Hashtag Battle is a stupid waste of time and it should never be done again