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Humor, Hacker
  • n. A distinctive style of shared intellectual humor found among hackers, having the following marked characteristics Fascination with form-vs. -content jokes, paradoxes, and humor having to do with confusion of metalevels (see meta). One way to make a hacker laugh hold a red index card in front of him/her with "GREEN" written on it, or vice-versa (note, however, that this is funny only the first time).
  • Elaborate deadpan parodies of large intellectual constructs, such as specifications (see write-only memory), standards documents, language descriptions (see INTERCAL), and even entire scientific theories (see quantum bogodynamics, computron).
  • Jokes that involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre, ludicrous, or just grossly counter-intuitive premises.
  • Fascination with puns and wordplay.
  • A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive currents of intelligence in it -- for example, old Warner Brothers and Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, the Marx brothers, the early B-52s, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Humor that combines this trait with elements of high camp and slapstick is especially favored.
  • References to the symbol-object antinomies and associated ideas in Zen Buddhism and (less often) Taoism. See has the X nature, Discordianism, zen, ha ha only serious, AI koans. See also filk, retrocomputing, and A Portrait of J. Random Hacker in Appendix B. If you have an itchy feeling that all 6 of these traits are really aspects of one thing that is incredibly difficult to talk about exactly, you are (a) correct and (b) responding like a hacker. These traits are also recognizable (though in a less marked form) throughout science-fiction fandom.