Developers have cried foul play over the judging process surrounding a mobile app "hackathon" run by CRM vendor Salesforce, the winner of which bagged $1m (£0.6m).
After the cash prizes were dished out to the winners on Thursday, contestants have taken to a thread on Hacker News to allege the competition was rigged, with some claiming their entries were not viewed by the judges.
On Friday night, Salesforce acknowledged there were questions about the process, adding that it is conducting a thorough review of final entries to ensure they comply with its rules and regulations.
According to the hackfest's rules, teams could start work on their apps on 25 October, and they must be created "from scratch".
However, the winning submission, "Upshot", appears to have been demonstrated on 8 October at a Salesforce event, angry developers pointed out.
Some also objected to the fact that Thomas Kim, one of the engineers behind Upshot, is a recently departed Salesforce employee, while many complained their submissions do not appear to have been viewed by the judging team.
Mobile app developer Alicia Liu was among those to receive a standard rejection email despite racking up 150 hours developing an app for the contest, which she said "left a sour taste" in her blog of the experience.
"If Salesforce does not adhere to their own rules, there's not much that can be done. It's their event," she wrote. "But the way this hackathon was run leaves all the projects completely hidden away. Compare this to every other hackathon where the submitted projects are up on the website, people can check out other people's demos, learn from others, and see for themselves what was good. It's a place for developers to showcase what they built."
The $1m top prize is one of the largest in the history of hackathons. Four runner-up teams bagged $245,000 each.
In a blog post on Friday night, Adam Seligman, who leads Salesforce.com's developer relations, acknowledged that there had been questions about "why the winning team was allowed to submit an app that may have used pre-existing code, how the judging worked, and the eligibility of participants".
Seligman claimed that every eligible app entry was reviewed at least twice by its team of more than 80 judges and that all the final five teams met the eligibility requirements specified in its specific rules.
"Thanks for giving us feedback, and we'll use it to make the hackathon experience even better next time!" Seligman said.
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