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    HN did too good of a job with associating “hacker” with “VC sycophant” for me to identify w/ that term

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      These days, “kernel hacker” is about the only variant I can stand.

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        Amen to this. I will also accept “Lisp hacker”.

        Everyone else is a posing douche.

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          Hacky sack hacker?

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          My sincere question is why not X Y Hacker ? Where X can stand for skill and Y for domain of expertise ?

          We can’t use the word Engineer in an absolute absolute sense because code can handle such a thing as currency now. Currency is not an Engineering Feat. Code can lie to a pollution test i.e, … again unheard of in Engineering …

          If not a “Hacker” then are we willing to be relegated to being a profession of technicians ?

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            If not a “Hacker” then are we willing to be relegated to being a profession of technicians ?

            I think some people (devs included) would love this: the equivalent of picking parts up from Ikea and claiming you built a couch.

            Perhaps that’s why people get so excited to compare notes about their ‘stack.’

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              I love it too ! But there’s 20 million of us or something like that.

              Stack Hackers is an acceptable term right ?

              Some one who builds a distribution of wordpress plugins or docker can happily apply that label to himself proudly.

              I know a Business guy who really likes shopping for these things and assembling them. He recently messed with the Ghost Platform and is so good at it that he will probably sell it as a solution.

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          “rock star ninja”

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            Has there ever been a rock star trained in ninjitsu? Just curious.

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              Maynard James Keenan, Tool.

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                Not sure about ninjitsu but I heard a Spotify interview with Matt Heafy where he said he was heavily into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu :-)

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              I’ve got 8,000+ points going against that and most other sycophant things on Hacker News. So, not totally accurate. I’m not sure what the average person has in karma going against the tide for just a year. I just feel that says the community is not the total circle-jerk it’s made out to be. Or there’s just circle-jerkers plus people kicking in their motel doors with cameras going, “Whoa! I thought this was a hackerspace! My bad! We’re making a quick counterpoint to what we’re seeing and then leaving…” Mwahahaha.

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                (Shhh, Lobste.rs is an anti-HN circlejerk <.<)

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                  Haha i know their bias. As with HN, I simply ignored it to go straight to evidence-based counterpoint no matter the cost. :)

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              This is a bad idea. To the world at large, hacker == criminal, and the world is much much larger than tech. There’s a lovely history and spirit to the world, but teenagers poisoned it in the 80s and we’ll never get it back. It’s been gone for twenty years, move on.

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                I hate to mention this, but the 80s were thirty years ago. :)

                Anyway, completely agreed.

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                  Yeah, sorry to be unclear - I saw it as poisoned in the 80s by The Youths, but it wasn’t until the late 90s that it took hold in the popular consciousness.

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                    Fair enough :)

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                  If we don’t define ourselves, someone else will. That is pretty much the issue I wish to address. The media has done a good job at it, clearly.

                  It’s been gone for twenty years, move on.

                  I have a rather bad tendency of just writing the conclusions. Here are my various ad-hoc reasoning to justify, why Hacker makes more sense.

                  Here is what “move on” basically entails in the future,

                  1. The word Hacker will never be used in the sense of a Hero
                  2. The future Programmers will be educated in Institutions which will rarely mention works of Hackers.
                  3. Business people will happily balkanise the profession with even more retarded words like Master Code Wrangler, VR Samurai …
                  4. The word Hacker will forever be looked upon as a criminal activity.
                  5. History will relegate the word to dusty books, akin to how an ancient tribe spoke Sumerian but was Romanised by Romans.

                  When I tried to pick that word and used it as an adjective, I did so with the full intent of addressing the facts like

                  1. Programming Computers is a synthetic in nature. It can combine with anything.
                  2. It is a young vocational profession just about 60 years old..
                  3. Being the 6th generation programmer, I want the 200th generation to use that word.

                  Any Developer who ousts an organisation for doing dirty and pathetic stuff, you know like faking or hard coding data, will be called a Hacker as a convenient scapegoat. The word Programmer is obviously more technical but it doesn’t carry the moral implications like that of a Doctor or a Lawyer. Hacker as a word has it.

                  Pardon me for using Pathos, but when someone of like Richard Stallman dies if he is called a “Brilliant Programmer” won’t you feel a pinch on your heart ?

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                    I’ll upvote you for explaining your reasoning further, but I do disagree with you.

                    “Hacker” is a term that has, through opportunistic marketing and hiring practices, been reduced to basically nothing. I don’t think people even associate it with the Hacker security bugaboo anymore simple because of overuse.

                    Moreover, “hacking” is a fundamentally playful and subversive activity. It is dangerous, and though it can be put to good use fundamentally the same practices and techniques have teeth. Motions like yours to gentrify and make palatable such a phrase so that people with neither skill nor mischief in their minds can feel good about themselves annoy me.

                    A “music hacker” is probably neither a skilled musician nor a talented engineer. A “gene hacker” is just some schmuck who probably thinks they’re a “citizen scientist” while diddling with their local makerspace’s clapped-out Craigslist centrifuge and PCR machine. A “typography hacker” is just some artsy person who wants to feel good about commenting on the BSD project’s continued use of Comic Sans. A “growth hacker” is just a borderline unethical marketing person.

                    Let’s stop using this title for people that just want to feel good in spite of their lack of achievement or skill.

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                      We can add prefixes for skill levels too.

                      For example, I am a Beginner Music Hacker. I have made music with hardware and the guitar, now I am obsessing over mixing code with my setup. Maybe have have a bot as a third band mate. I am an Intermediate programmer.

                      I don’t know much about lawyers but my guess is people can be called Junior or Senior Lawyers depending on their skill level.

                      What other term is there, the can commensurate enough respect ? Jedi Programmer ?

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                        So, you’re a musician. Why exactly is it necessary to shoehorn the word “hacker” in there? I would die of embarrassment if I got on stage to perform and I was introduced as an “Advanced Music Hacker”

                        Jedi Programmer

                        Is this trolling?

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                          I wouldn’t mind being called Advanced Music Hacker in front of kids. I speak from the excitement of Sonic Pi and the ilk.

                          That was meant as a biting-remark. I want to understand where are we heading with words like rock star and ninja.

                          Let me try to give a hypothetical conversation as an example,

                          Hey Joe, What shall we call the Expert Nerd ?
                          Jedi Programmer.
                          What does the Jedi Night Warrior do ?
                          Weaves magic, with samurai keyboard.
                          Is s/he still in the office ? Yes

                          Hey Samurai Jedi Night Warrior, have you been up all night coding.
                          It’s almost done.

                          In voices slightly raised, you are awesome Jedi Night warrior ??
                          Stares blindly into the screen.

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                      The English word thief comes from the Old English word þēof, which comes from the Old Germanic *tewpó-, probably from the perfectly respectable Lithuanian word tupeti, meaning ‎“to crouch, cower, squat”.

                      This might not seem like anything special, but it’s a fine word that would be totally useful for organizing all these different fields like Yoga, Pilates, and Yogalates. We could have one glorious term to unite all these disparate fields: Yoga Thieves, Pilates Thieves, Yogalates Thieves, and so on! All these professions should simply call themselves thieves. If they don’t self-define as thieves, someone else will define them.

                      Why, if we give up on the word thieves, it might never again be used in the sense of someone who crouches. Unscrupulous business people will balkanize the fields with words like “trainer”, “personal coach”, or “guru”. The word thief will forever be looked upon as a criminal activity!

                      Or we could accept that the term is emphatically defined and move on.

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                      Operation Sundevil

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                      In addition to what others have said here, the use of it as an adjective in a compound term like “frontend hacker” sounds strange to me. It really sounds like someone intended to write “frontend programmer” but that wasn’t good enough somehow so did a search-and-replace with “hacker”, but otherwise kept the preexisting phrases. But what additional information does “hacker” add here? Who is the “solidarity” a solidarity with?

                      The adjective usage is admittedly not unprecedented. “AI hacker” was a historical usage of the term which, perhaps due to familiarity, sounds ok to me. But it’s also pretty historically situated: to me “AI hacker” is not a synonym for “AI researcher” or “AI programmer” or in general “AI person”, but instead denotes a really specific kind of AI person, something in the general vein of ‘60s/'70s-type Lisp people who build big GOFAI systems.

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                        Regardless of definitions conditioned by popular media and HN, I really like the term “hacker.” I don’t have a degree in CS so I don’t feel that the term “software engineer” or “software architect” accurately describes me or what I do. My typical work day involves starting a Clojure repl and hacking on the code until it does what I want it to. Same when I do Python or Haskell or C, the compiler is often helpful in the latter two cases (always use -Wall).

                        When I start, I only have a vague plan of what to write - the details fill themselves in during the iterative development cycle. It’s much closer to the creative process of art than structured engineering, if you ask me. And what is a technological artist if not a hacker?

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                          Isn’t “hacker” another term for a tinkerer? Tinkering is a general approach to problem solving: make changes to a system and see what happens, repeat until you’re pleased with the results. Not every problem that can be solved by tinkering is a programming problem, and conversely, not every programming problem can be solved just by tinkering.

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                            I’ve some alternatives to consider, folks…

                            • “brooding screen light interfacer”
                            • “bit flipper”
                            • “formal system anomaly enthusiast”
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                              bit detective.

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                                bug buster

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                                I believe the best description of my job is “plumber”. I make sure that data flows from source to sink by astutely assembling libraries and writing glue code.

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                                  For me, it’s all been downhill since jwz’s business card.

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                                    It is about time someone mentioned the jargon file.

                                    hacker: n.

                                    1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.

                                    2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.

                                    Note the reference to RFC1392 (obsoleted by RFC1983 that did not change the definition).

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                                      Hmm, I think we need an equivalent of Godwin’s Law for ESR references…

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                                      Hack: To put stuff together or break, or synthesise, especially with the help of a computer, intelligently or creatively or for fun.

                                      According to Merriam-Webster, it’s quite the opposite:

                                      1 a : to cut or sever with repeated irregular or unskillful blows

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                                        “Why we should just simply call ourselves Hackers If we don’t define ourselves, someone else will.”

                                        Someone else did: the media and FBI. Calling yourself hacker enough outside places like Silicon Valley can cause you more trouble than it’s worth. I say inventor and engineer. Everyone respects those.