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MLH Cheating Response Procedure

The following is a guide of actions to be taken in the case of an accusation that a team cheated or otherwise violated the rules of competition. Violations of the Code of Conduct is handled under the Incident Response Procedure. Accusations of cheating may include but are not limited to:

  • A team using somebody else’s code
  • A team misrepresenting the work they did
  • A team having too many team members
  • A team using code that was written outside the event

To determine the validity of cheating instances Major League Hacking defers to the rules adopted by the individual event. If the event did not adopt a unique set of rules, the default MLH Hackathon Rules will be used.


To ensure a consistent and fair response across all events in the League, MLH will deal with cheating accusations at events in the League. If you suspect cheating, or you are an organizer who has been made aware of an accusation of cheating, please get in touch with MLH. If you are still at the event, go and find the onsite MLH representative. If it is after the event, please email The following steps are to be followed by MLH staff.

Document the Report

Try to get as much of the allegation in written form by the reporter. If you cannot, transcribe it yourself as it was told to you. The important information to gather include the following:

  • Identifying information (name, email, phone, etc.) of the reporter
  • Identifying information (name, email, phone, etc.) of the participant/team accused of cheating
  • Reason the reporter suspects cheating
  • Other people suspected to be involved in the cheating
  • Other witnesses / people who suspect the cheating
  • Any relevant URLs (e.g. for GitHub repos or Devpost pages)

There are also some guidelines as to what not to do as an initial response:

  • Do not ask for their advice on how to deal with the complaint. This is a staff responsibility
  • Do not offer them input into penalties. This is the staff's responsibility

Once something is reported to a staff member, immediately contact the League Team at The league team currently consists of:

You can contact them on slack (where you can also find their cell numbers). The main objectives of the meeting with the League Team are to find out the following:

  • What happened?
  • Are we doing anything about it?
  • Who is doing those things?
  • When are they doing them?

Once League Team have been contacted they will work with the staff member to loop in the event organizer if they are not already involved. The League Team will then investigate the allegation by reviewing public materials about the hack, including project repos, project submissions, and anything else available to them.


Cheating Did Not Occur

If MLH determines cheating did not occur, they will compile a report and inform the organizer and the reporter.

Other Outcomes

If MLH is unable to determine that cheating did not occur based on publicly available resources, the organizer and MLH will then communicate with the alleged cheater. Informing them of what has been reported about them. Allow the alleged cheater to give their side of the story to the staff. After this point, if the report stands, let the alleged cheater know what actions will be taken against them.

Some actions for the staff to consider when dealing with alleged cheating offenders:

  • Warning the cheater to cease their behavior and that any further reports will result in sanctions
  • Not allowing the participants to demo
  • Not allowing the participants to win prizes
  • Revocation of prizes & recognitions
  • Banning the participants from future events (either indefinitely or for a certain time period)
  • Publishing an account of the cheating

Sanctions for cheating are covered by the Disciplinary Action Policy.

Depending on the cheating allegation, the League Team may decide to make one or more public announcements. If necessary, this will be done with a short announcement. No one other than MLH or someone delegated authority from MLH should make any announcements.

If some attendees were angered by the cheating, it is best to apologize to them that the cheating occurred to begin with. If there are residual hard feelings, suggest to them to write an email to MLH. It will be dealt with accordingly.