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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 23 August 2021 and 13 December 2021. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Hiker103.

Above undated message substituted from Template:Dashboard.wikiedu.org assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 22:05, 17 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Keonaaa.

Above undated message substituted from Template:Dashboard.wikiedu.org assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 22:57, 16 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Both A and B[edit]

Could it be possible to say the hacker ethic is "both A and B" instead of "either A or B"? --Papyromancer 19:40, 2004 Oct 13 (UTC)

No. The second ethic is more grey hat ("Deface if you want to, just don't cause any permanent damage"-ish), the first more white hat.
I guess one could also say that the first one defines white hat hacker ethics, the second one defines black hat hacker ethics (although black hat hackers might reduce that sentence to the part about fun and exploration) and the mix of both would represent grey hat hackers.
Either way, there are multiple definitions and they shouldn't be mixed by saying hacker ethic is both -- it really is either the first or the second or both, depending on which hacker subculture (that'd be a sub-subculture then) you ask.
I don't think the sentence "[..] hacker ethic is either: [..] and/or [..]" works, tho, so that might need a bit of rephrasing. What about "hacker ethic is either [..] or [..] or the combination of both" or something along those lines? I'm sure some native speakers could come up with a better version than that. -- Ashmodai 02:57, 8 March 2006 (UTC)[reply]

This article should be revised in order to eliminate redundancy.

history of the term[edit]

Let me pontificate here for just a few sentences.

The term "Hacker Ethic" predates 1984 when somebody wrote it down in a book. I was a computer science student at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1970s, and we were all taught that term at that time. It may have indeed been handed down by Richard M. Stallman of MIT, but in the '60s of early '70s, because it was extremely well known and used throughtout the Computer Science academic community at my time at Berkeley. I am not going to make a federal case about it -- it does matter, after all, who first publishes something outside of that academic community, I suppose. However, it was indeed written down in internal manuals and publications at Berkeley, and I dare say at all other Computer Science think tanks in the country, if not throughout the western world.

Second, in the original sense of the term Hacker Ethic, there was never a concept of a "black hat". The very concept of hacker was good. A hacker was one who had great powers to make computers do what they ought to do, all for good. They could control any computer any way they wanted to. There was never a conception of doing so with any but altruistic or benificent intentions. Hackers were heroes. They furthered the Hacker Ethic, that computers were supposed to benefit mankind, and that computing ought to be available and plentiful, and software that made the computer do more things was to be shared freely, so that people's computer, that they paid a lot of money for, after all, would actually do more of what it was supposed to do in the first place. To hold one's computer for ransom by refusing to provide software to make it do what it was supposed to do in the first place was wrong. To try to bankrupt people by charging exorbitant rates for every new functionality was wrong, even unthinkable. Hackers returned the power to the people by making that computer do their's, the owner's, bidding, not the bidding of some software vendor. The term "hacker" was reserved for the very best, not just any standard-issue programmer. It was a term of honor. It was always "white hat".

The way that the general over-culture has come to use the term "hacker" is a shame. They really ought to use the term "cracker", which is what hackers of the original sense of the term have suggested. Anybody purporting to suggest that a "black hat" subculture exists within hacker culture has no clue what a hacker really is. Such a person is a Cracker, and all that "black hat" culture is Cracker Culture. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Qodesh (talkcontribs) 18:25, 27 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I intended to sign the above pontification. I blew it. That shows my lack of skill. I am not a hacker. I hardly was ever even good enough as a computer programmer to be able to appreciate the greatness that was a true hacker's work. -Qodesh ( (talk) 19:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC))[reply]

aputtu That is interesting. I did some research into the term "hacker ethic" since 2002 and hasn't been able to come across usage of the term before Levy (1984). From what I understand, the term "hacker ethic" does not make sense as such to Stallman, despite that ethics is a main concern to him. That the term "hacker ethic" may have been handed down by Stallman could seem likely at first glance, but I don't really think that it is the case. Ethics and hacking is different traits according to Stallman, and he does not apply the term hacker ethics onto what he does himself. The original version of The Jargon File (maintained by the old school guys) doesn't include terms like "ethic" or even the word "social" - talk about hardcore geek, was my first reaction studying it. The closest I got to ethics were the entry ""The Right Thing" - which is used very broadly to all kinds of ethical-irrelevant actions as well. A comparison of The Jargon File and The New Hacker's Dictionary edited by Eric S. Raymond shows that Raymond has added a whole social dimension to the hackers selfconception that at least didn't appear in the Jargon file. In a online live-session (was it for Newsweek, can't recall) I got to ask Steven Levy whether he had coined the term, which he said he did - I can't find the session online anymore however. It is therefore interesting to hear that the term "hacker ethic" was in use at Berkeley, and I would love to hear more about it. For historical reasons it would be very interesting to know more about Bill Gosper's conception of hacking and ethics, since he is said to have influenced the hacker culture profoundly at the MIT AI Lab back in the 60's.


I'm not a hacker either - just interested in the culture and how the minds of hackers, good software engineers, and programmers work. I work at an hardware and software design company. I'm surrounded by folks who love to hack (that is, solve problems). One doesn't have to be a hacker to write or quote others' description of hacking.

If you feel that this entry is redundant - please, add your knowledge and information!

I think the "white hat" and "black hat" terminology is very confusing. Am I supposed to think of Linux when I read that?


TSWcontentlady (talk) 11:56, 26 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Finnish mythology?[edit]

1th of June 2008, aputtu: The following sections makes absolutely no sense to me. I think it is a bad joke, but even if it wasn't it still does't make any sense to me:

Both Himanen and Torvalds were inspired by the Sampo Finnish mythology. The Sampo, described in the Kalevala, was a magical artifact constructed by Ilmarinen, the blacksmith god, that brought good fortune to its holder; nobody knows exactly what it was supposed to be. The Sampo has been interpreted in many ways: a world pillar or world tree, a compass or astrolabe, a chest containing a treasure, a Byzantine coin die, a decorated Vendel period shield, a Christian relic, etc. In the Kalevala, compiler Lönnrot interpreted it to be a quern or mill of some sort that made flour, salt, and gold out of thin air.

where is the reference? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:34, 15 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]


This article seems to have sat here for a long time with tons and tons of incorrect capitals that I finally fixed in this edit. Doesn't anyone who works on this article ever look at WP:MOS or know about standard Wikipedia conventions? Michael Hardy (talk) 20:28, 17 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Class project has unbalanced the article?[edit]

Over 3 - 5 November this article was considerably expanded by a number of new editors as part of a class project. While these edits were made in good faith, I think the need to "put something in" has led to excessive detail and has not improved the article, and unless objections are expressed here I am minded to revert it to this version by Linuxguymarshall at 23 October. Comments welcome. JohnCD (talk) 17:11, 5 November 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Referenced work seems opinion-oriented, not factual[edit]

This page seems to suffer from a lack of distinction between the point of view of certain experts and fact. For example:

Levy notes that, at other universities, professors were making public proclamations that computers would never be able to beat a human being in chess. Hackers knew better. They would be the ones who would guide computers to greater heights than anyone expected.

If the paraphrasing is accurate, the referenced work seems to be more opinion-oriented than factual; rather than a history book, it's a review. These views should be decoupled from facts—and ultimately, the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dmyersturnbull (talkcontribs) 08:40, 14 March 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Female hackers?[edit]

There is no mention whatsoever of female hackers. The earliest hackers seemed to be exclusively male, but women entered the scene at some point, and are a significant minority today. Coverage should be added for people like Radia Perlman, for example. Reify-tech (talk) 14:49, 26 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Re "today": may not be relevant: whether the "hacker ethic" described in the article applies to contemporary communities is very doubtful... Equinox 13:22, 19 May 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Grand merge[edit]

I've just merged this article to hacking (innovation), which was formerly titled Hacker (programmer subculture). Please see the discussion at talk:hacking (innovation)#Grand merge for the rationale and a plan for moving forward. Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) - talk 11:01, 30 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Looks like it was unmerged, and fwiw I approve of the unmerging. The page needs work but I am not sure a merge is the answer. It seems to give a great deal of weight to Levy, for instance, probably a good idea in the history section, and sure, he's a published and objective source. But surely there are others. Elinruby (talk) 21:42, 5 November 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Focused on computers[edit]

You can't blame this article for being completely focused in computers but the term hacker is not limited to this context. There are "life hackers", "biohackers" (who use gadgets as a means, not as a finality) and overall any other area where "playful cleverness" can be applied to as by Stallman's quote in the article. I'm not sure how to add this information in though - a new section with just one paragraph seems less than ideal and just a note on the introduction while every other sections focuses on computers would also be awkward. If there is an article on Wikipedia about non-computer hacking in general maybe we could add a section with an "main article: xxx" template? (talk) 13:32, 13 December 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Why teach hacking?[edit]

YOU CANT TEACH HACKING! and there is no such thing as white/black hackers there are hackers and there are cybercriminals!!

do not follow the military and media propaganda BS.  — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rek2 (talkcontribs) 18:33, 11 July 2020 (UTC)[reply] 

Ashiu33 (talk) 23:07, 15 February 2017 (UTC)-[reply]

  • This is a talk by Richard Stallman. It's not directly about hacking but it's probably the best overview on FOSS ever made, by the most prominent figure on the FOSS community himself. FOSS products and philosophy are tightly interwoven, since the first is a direct "evolution" of the hacker ethos - so I figured I might drop this here as well to add to the list https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag1AKIl_2GM

I plan on adding a topic on why teach hacking. Ymir Vigfusson has a fascinating ted talk about why he teaches hacking and I hope to expand on it.

Why Teach Hacking?

              Hacking can be extremely dangerous. In this digital age and our reliance on technology, we are vulnerable to these types of attacks. One way to combat this, however, is to teach students to hack with the hopes that they become white hat hackers. The movement of ethical hacking has gained traction through different programs such as the L0pht and GhettoHackers and courses have become integrated into university and college level curriculum.

Prevent the Development of Black Hat Hackers:

              Often times, students become intrigued by the technical prowess that computers possess. As Joe Gervais, a security researcher and an application security engineer, pointed out, students who are intellectually curious enough may start to experiment with computers without thinking of the ethical repercussions of their actions. He points out that there are a lot of classes that exist for more gifted students in areas such as math, reading, etc. However, there doesn’t seem to be courses that can address the curiosity that a young hacker may have.
              Hacking courses can create a moral compass for young hackers. They require a constructive environment that allows them to satiate their desire to understand computers. Students in this class have the ability to learn what they are passionate about while also understanding the ethical boundaries that should not be encroached upon. However, the integral part of the curriculum would be to prevent the development of black hat hackers.

Creating the next generation of white hack hackers:

              There seems to be a lack of skilled cyber security experts. However, there doesn’t seem to be curriculums that teaches individuals the skills required to protect security systems from malicious attacks. Teaching hacking is a plausible way to fill the gap in the supply and the demand of hackers who are capable of implementing defensive measures against attacks. Ymir Vigfusson is a major advocate for educating students about hacking. Ymir is a professor is a professor at the School of Computer Science at Reykjavik University and an assistant professor in Emory University’s math and science department. Ymir points out that teaching hacking can be a way for students to better understand the computer security. He believe that hackers have a unique mindset where they are constantly thinking about how they can get through cyber security. However, defenders, or the ones providing the cyber security are only thinking of ways to keep people out. The defenders have a tough job and are required to think of all that ways that a hacker can get in. However, hackers just need to identify one path that can bypass the system. Ymir brings up the analogy of a homeowner buying an expensive steel door for their home, believing that they are secure. By-passers walking by, however, will notice the door but see that the windows are open. An individual working in cyber security that also has a background in hacking will have the vision of both the  owner of the house and the by-passer, where they will be able to look for weaknesses in the system and prevent malicious hackers from exploiting these flaws.

Sources: https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/cyber-security/hacker-high-why-we-need-to-teach-hacking-in-schools/ https://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/07/teaching_students_hacking/

Ashiu33 (talk) 03:31, 29 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

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Protect younger people[edit]

One important thing is missing in Hacker Ethics: whatever you do, always protect younger people, no matter what religion, no matter what race, no matter what skin color, no matter if right wing, middle wing or right wing, no matter if male, female, non-binary, no matter if Little Pony or Baby Dragon. One can morally hardly do something wrong if protecting younger people, and it would also be a mindset that would find global acceptance and would lead to global coexistence. Protecting does not mean, that you later are allowed to take their goods or their virginity, just because you helped. If you live that Categorical Imperative in an altruistic way it would give you meaing in your live. (talk) 22:18, 31 December 2019 (UTC) Landev FailDef (talk) 05:26, 23 December 2020 (UTC) FailDef (talk) 16:55, 24 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

BugReport Hacker Ethic paragraph "Info shall be free"[edit]

"ALL DATA/INFORMATION SHALL BE FREE" ist technically maybe not completely correct. ALL HELPFUL DATA should be free. If data helps to save peoples lifes it would be an insult to humanity if you need to pay for.

CounterExample: Distributing cyber-weapons for free is maybe not the best idea (euphemism) (talk) 18:52, 3 December 2023 (UTC) Landev[reply]