Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ancestry Hacker Internal Contest

Clip art of groups thinkingAs a former software engineer, I was interested to see an article about an internal programmers’ contest at Ancestry. They gave their programmers two days to produce some cool product. That’s not much time to do anything useful, so it presents just the sort of challenge that ignites a programmer’s creativity and competitive nature. Participation as a team builds unity and camaraderie. “Teams find themselves really energized by sitting and working together to brainstorm and solve problems without as much regard to roles and process,” said Christopher Bradford, Ancestry VP of engineering.

Prizes were rewarded in two categories, one for usefulness, and one just for fun. The prize winner in the serious category provided a different search experience, better utilizing the data itself to assist users to narrow down search results. A prize winner in the fun category was a dungeon-type game that pits your skills against those of your ancestors. To see the other prize winning ideas, see “2015 Hack Days at Ancestry” on the Ancestry tech blog.

Don’t look for any of these features or products on your grocers’ shelves anytime soon. That’s not the purpose of the contest and not the typical outcome. But, hopefully, happier programmers lead to happier customers.



Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at

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