Hackathon Pro Welcome: how was the first charity SmartMail Hack

    On the last weekend of September, the Mail.Ru Mail team conducted their first hackathon dedicated to charity. And it was not easy.

    We set a big goal:

    • Turn charity ideas into real product and design tasks.
    • Correctly build work in the process of the hackathon, in order to come not just to spherical horses in a vacuum, but to full-fledged projects that can be implemented.
    • Do not quit working at the hackathon stage, but think out a plan for the future product life.

    It seems that we all managed it.


    As part of the hackathon, we did not focus on any particular manifestation of violence against a child. The concept of child abuse includes both physical and mental abuse, resulting in a threat to the child’s life, health, mental and social development ( source ). Moreover, the child is not always the victim, he can be both the aggressor and the witness of the events.

    The task of the developed application is to inform the child about what to do if he is in a similar situation, and if possible to support him, providing a quick connection with a psychologist or any other psycho-emotional support.

    A good example of such an informative resource: Australian portal Reachout, collecting the most diverse information, starting with what to do if you are a victim of cyberbullying, and before dealing with pre-examination stress.

    By the way, there are already examples of applications similar to what is planned to be developed. For example, the SOS mobile application with the ability to contact a psychologist, to receive brief instructions on what to do in a danger situation. Or the application "Violence. No" , created by the same name fund to help women in situations of violence.

    Nevertheless, as we see it, there is no ideal solution accessible and understandable for the child.

    Tasks of the Hackathon

    We divided the work on the project into three areas.

    • Creating a concept and design of the application with an intuitive and attractive interface. The main task was to reach the teenager, to speak the same language with him both in the text and visually.
    • Development of a separate useful function for the application. This may be a panic button, chat bot for auto-dialing, a post injury injury simulator, or help with depressive states.
    • And the development of the application or features on the topic, but without a hard link to the original task to make a "directory".

    Evaluation of work

    The following criteria were used to evaluate the work : for projects of the first direction - the attractiveness of the application, for the second - the presence of a working prototype and functionality, for the third - the elaboration of the idea.

    Alexander Babkina, Mail.Ru Group social projects manager, was responsible for professional expertise; Sergey Zelenov, product manager for Mail.Ru Mail; Gevorg Glechyan, Deputy Design Director of Mail.Ru Mail; Maria Remova, HelpApp project manager, and Ekaterina Fedorova, director of the “Your territory” charity foundation.

    A feature of the hackathon was the presence of two jury members: in addition to the experts, adolescents themselves evaluated projects.

    Works of participants

    In total, 13 teams took part in the hackathon. Here is a complete table with points, and then we’ll tell you a little more about individual projects:

    In the “Design” category, the Pro Dobro application diary of the “Nobility Night ” design team won , which includes an emotion tracker and access to information that can help a teenager in a difficult situation . Victory team provided a carefully thought-out implementation and UX applications.

    The second place was taken by the Pink Sight team app. It was more like a teenage jury, but, unfortunately, was not so thoughtful in terms of design. The developers offered motivating checklists with daily quests: fill in the data about the past day and get conclusions about your emotional state:

    The first place in the “Programming” category was taken by the team with the loud name “Life is pain”. They offered a secure chat for a direct connection with a psychologist who is completely erased if your phone is torn out, and you need to enter a code word to access the chat. The authors showed a working prototype, and the jury asked a few logical questions: will the chat be deleted if the child drops the phone, or does it simply jerk with his hand? Over these guys still have to work!

    Another interesting solution in this category was the “Panic Button” application by Amir Bosiyev, which, when clicked, activates the encrypted audio stream from the phone, which is immediately sent to the psychologist or other interested person. Stream encryption occurs via the blockchain. In addition, the application has a personal account for a psychologist in which he can receive these streams and chat, and also promptly sends messages to other responsible persons.

    Most participants were in the “Free Task” category. The team with the name "Serfs" won, so a good pun came out: "Serfs" won the task on a free topic. However, their solution was indeed extremely interesting. The application "Lighthouse" is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main task is therapeutic, but the application can help in an emergency. First, it asks you to assess your condition, based on the answer, it can help you figure out what is bothering you, or connect you with a psychologist. In the process of answering various questions, the application suggests different ways out of the situation. All your results are reflected on a special scale. The project seems so interesting that we offer to familiarize yourself with its concept by reference .

    A curious solution was proposed by a team called “Rainbow”: an application for creating a chat with a trusted adult. All teens in the chat are anonymous and can trust an adult (teacher, psychologist, social worker) to face their problems without fear. He, in turn, through a special admin can answer them. In addition, the application is implemented directory with all the useful information on the topic.

    Not without data-driven ideas. The “Title in Development” team suggested using machine learning to find out if there are posts posted by a teenager on social networks, positive or negative. According to the results of the analysis, conclusions can be drawn both to the parents of the child and to the child himself. One of the ways to implement this idea: an application that analyzes your page and issues "dangerous" posts, including not to "sit down at the repost," as the team itself put it, and bribed the juvenile jury. However, skeptical questions also sounded. Let's be fair, the mentioned topic is really not unambiguous and requires much more elaboration than a simple hackathon.

    Conclusion one

    You can endlessly gush ideas, invent new and new projects. Hackatons are adrenaline and excitement, but how to turn all collected ideas into something more or less worthwhile?

    From the very beginning we addressed this question to the participants. The main problem was that the application is a difficult product for distribution, the child should have a reason to put it, because it is much easier to surf the Internet, look for a friendly leverage among VKontakte friends, or just close yourself.

    Therefore, many participants primarily thought about interface design and security (anonymizers, encryption, code words, erasable chat). We will be grateful for your ideas in the comments below or post a letter to helpapp [] mail.ru .

    Another difficulty for us was the creation of recommendations for philanthropists, with the idea of ​​which this hackathon began. The main problem that we identified: the launch of the development of an application to help children is no different from the launch of any other application. Looking for a project manager, front and backend developers, a good product designer, a marketer who thinks about distribution. The fund often does not have all these resources, nor does it have enough experience to choose from those who “want to help” those developers and managers who will cope with the task at a high level, rather than create a project “on the knee”. Of course, there is no money to pay for a good specialist.

    If you can and are ready to take responsibility to help in the implementation of such a product, write to helpapp [] mail.ru and offer yourself as one of the above experts.

    The second conclusion (a little more pathetic)

    This is a good indicator that so many smart guys decided to devote a weekend to solving social problems. The best investment we can make today in the development of society is our mind and experience. It's cool that the Mail.Ru Mail team also understands this and tries itself in this direction. We definitely have something to teach, what to say and how to help.

    And many thanks to everyone who took part in the preparation of this event - the anti-bulking project “Together Against Harassment , the public educational project “Greenhouse of Social Technologies” and the charitable foundation “Your Territory” .


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