This distinct writing style has long been associated with Computer Hackers. I ran a Hack BBS in New York around 1983. All the folks who frequented the modest bulletin board never used this style of writing. Over the years, I found that 'wannabe' hacks and people trying to impress those who were not 'in the know' started using Hackertext.

Apparently, being able to use extended ASCII characters in your writing made you look like you knew what you were doing, and that you knew your way around a computer. Just asking something as theoretically simple (to a real hacker) as, "What is a non-maskable interrupt?", or "How can you write an AUTOEXEC.BAT file using the COPY command in DOS?", you would find that they knew nothing about the computer they were sitting at.

Anyway, here is how to look nifty-keen and impress your friends (if they're 97% computer illiterate and not too bright), and we'll transform the sentence, Hackers are super cool, the elite have root on your head.:

  1. Replace all instances of A with the number 4.
    H4ckers 4re super cool, the elite h4ve root on your he4d.

  2. Replace all instances of the letter E with the number 3, unless the vowel sounds like an O, where you'd just plug in a 0, or it is silent, where you can just drop it.
    H4ck0rs 4r3 sup3r cool, th3 3lit h4v root on your h34d.

  3. Replace all instances of CK with the letter X.
    H4x0rs 4r3 sup3r cool, th3 3lit h4v root on your h34d.

  4. Replace all instances of the letter L with the number 1.
    H4x0rs 4r3 sup3r coo1, th3 31it h4v root on your h34d.

  5. If the I sounds like a long E, you can optionally replace it with a double-E sound (in this case, in ELITE it would be 33, like el33t).
    H4x0rs 4r3 sup3r coo1, th3 3133t h4v root on your h34d.

  6. Replace all instances of the letter T with the number 7
    H4x0rs 4r3 sup3r coo1, 7h3 31337 h4v roo7 on your h34d.

  7. At this point, you can start replacing letters with unusual high-ASCII versions. For example, you can replace a Y by just substituting any letter that looks like a Y, such as Ý. Anything with some weird dots or squiggles on the top works fine.
    H4x0rs 4r3 sup3r Çoo1, 7h3 31337 h4v rðð7 Øn yØur h34d.

  8. You're almost done! If you have any letters left, start randomly making them capitals.
    h4x0rs 4r3 sððP3r Çoo£, 7H3 3£337 h4v rðð7 Øn yØur h34d.

  9. Now, start looking for other symbols that look similar to letters. Randomly replace the real letters in your sentence with these symbols.

If you can create a sentence so obtuse and purple that nobody can understand it but you (when you're NOT drunk on 30-proof alcohol), then you have learned how to §peak like a h4x0r when you're online.

Now please open a technical manual and learn something.


This node was brought to you by the letters §, µ and ß. Shouts go out to Yerricde for fixing a few errors.