Helping Hacker Culture Grow

The following is from the Hacker Jargon File v4.0.0:

If you enjoyed the Jargon File, please help the culture that created it grow and flourish. Here are several ways you can help:

Here's the text of a letter RMS wrote to the Wall Street Journal to complain about their policy of using "hacker" only in a pejorative sense. We hear that most major newspapers have the same policy. If you'd like to help change this situation, send your favorite newspaper the same letter -- or, better yet, write your own letter.

     Dear Editor:

     This letter is not meant for publication, although you can
     publish it if you wish.  It is meant specifically for you, the
     editor, not the public.

     I am a hacker.  That is to say, I enjoy playing with computers --
     working with, learning about, and writing clever computer
     programs.  I am not a cracker; I don't make a practice of
     breaking computer security.

     There's nothing shameful about the hacking I do.  But when I tell
     people I am a hacker, people think I'm admitting something
     naughty -- because newspapers such as yours misuse the word
     "hacker", giving the impression that it means "security breaker"
     and nothing else.  You are giving hackers a bad name.

     The saddest thing is that this problem is perpetuated
     deliberately.  Your reporters know the difference between
     "hacker" and "security breaker".  They know how to make the
     distinction, but you don't let them!  You insist on using
     "hacker" pejoratively.  When reporters try to use another word,
     you change it.  When reporters try to explain the other meanings,
     you cut it.

     Of course, you have a reason.  You say that readers have become
     used to your insulting usage of "hacker", so that you cannot
     change it now.  Well, you can't undo past mistakes today; but
     that is no excuse to repeat them tomorrow.

     If I were what you call a "hacker", at this point I would
     threaten to crack your computer and crash it.  But I am a hacker,
     not a cracker.  I don't do that kind of thing!  I have enough
     computers to play with at home and at work; I don't need yours.
     Besides, it's not my way to respond to insults with violence.  My
     response is this letter.

     You owe hackers an apology; but more than that, you owe us
     ordinary respect.

     			Sincerely, etc.

<- Back to the Chico Hackers Guild opening page