International Style Contents Pronunciation Guide

Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers

From the early 1980s onward, a flourishing culture of local, MS-DOS-based bulletin boards developed separately from Internet hackerdom. The BBS culture has, as its seamy underside, a stratum of `pirate boards' inhabited by crackers, phone phreaks, and warez d00dz. These people (mostly teenagers running IBM-PC clones from their bedrooms) have developed their own characteristic jargon, heavily influenced by skateboard lingo and underground-rock slang.

Though crackers often call themselves `hackers', they aren't (they typically have neither significant programming ability, nor Internet expertise, nor experience with UNIX or other true multi-user systems). Their vocabulary has little overlap with hackerdom's. Nevertheless, this lexicon covers much of it so the reader will be able to understand what goes by on bulletin-board systems.

Here is a brief guide to cracker and warez d00dz usage:

  • Misspell frequently. The substitutions
         phone => fone
         freak => phreak

    are obligatory.

  • Always substitute `z's for `s's. (i.e. "codes" -> "codez"). The substitution of 'z' for 's' has evolved so that a 'z' is now systematically put at the end of words to denote an illegal or cracking connection. Examples : Appz, passwordz, passez, utilz, MP3z, distroz, pornz, sitez, gamez, crackz, serialz, downloadz, FTPz, etc.
  • Type random emphasis characters after a post line (i.e. "Hey Dudes!#!$#$!#!$").
  • Use the emphatic `k' prefix ("k-kool", "k-rad", "k-awesome") frequently.
  • Abbreviate compulsively ("I got lotsa warez w/ docs").
  • Substitute `0' for `o' ("r0dent", "l0zer").

These traits are similar to those of B1FF, who originated as a parody of naive BBS users; also of his latter-day equivalent Jeff K.. Occasionally, this sort of distortion may be used as heavy sarcasm by a real hacker, as in:

    > I got X Windows running under Linux!

    d00d!  u R an 31337 hax0r

The only practice resembling this in actual hacker usage is the substitution of a dollar sign of `s' in names of products or service felt to be excessively expensive, e.g. Compu$erve, Micro$oft.

For further discussion of the pirate-board subculture, see lamer, elite, leech, poser, cracker, and especially warez d00dz, banner site, ratio site, leech mode.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

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