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ZDNet: Are they 'hackers'? Or 'crackers'?

Apr 03, 2000, 16:29 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Kingman)

"Eric S. Raymond, lexicographer of the "New Hacker's Dictionary" -- it's really a repackaged, updated MIT jargon file -- doesn't want you to use "hacker" to refer to a computer criminal. A computer criminal is called a "cracker," he says. He says it loudly, he says it often -- seemingly every chance he gets. But it seems pretty clear that not even the guy who maintains the dictionary gets to choose how language is used. "Cracker" is about as likely to replace "hacker" in common parlance as "GNU/Linux" is to replace "Linux.""

"To be fair, Raymond is hardly the only member of the hacker word police. In fact, it seems that from the start the word "cracker" was contrived and promulgated by the computing elite in an explicit attempt to distance itself from nefarious tinkerers."

"Whither then, cracker? Perhaps that should be "wither, then, cracker." Considering that 15 years of scolding have not been sufficient to bring the word to the mainstream, let's give it a rest. And if expressing that opinion makes me the enemy of "true" hackers, well ... all subcultures need a good enemy or two to bind them together, and journalists always make a good straw dog if you can't find a lawyer anywhere."

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