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Bad prank diminishes reputations of hackers


It is ironic that HA! feels that "this has been a bad hacking year." In light of recent events, they are correct. Between HA!'s cruel mailing and excessive graffiti in the sub-basement of Building 9 ("the tombs"), Physical Plant and the Campus Police are cracking down on everyone.

What HA! doesn't understand is that hacking is neither cruel nor destructive. A hack should be amusing or thought-provoking to both the recipient and the observers. Often it includes overcoming obstacles, such as accessing the Great Dome. A hack should cause no damage, leave no permanent trace, and give a good impression.

HA!'s mailing doesn't fit this description. It is harassment, not a hack. It is also a mystery to me that HA! can insist that there have not been a lot of hacks pulled off this year. One night before Halloween, there were five

hacks or practical jokes in Lobby 7 alone, including the Enterprise hack. Do the members of HA! bother to look up?

The graffiti and personal attacks against administrators in "the tombs" -- which resulted in an entire repainting of the area -- are not hacking either. The Hacker's Dictionary includes as a definition of the word hack: ". . . a brilliant practical joke, where neatness is correlated with cleverness, harmlessness, and surprise value . . ." Hacking should not have a bad connotation. It is important that the MIT community realizes that there is a difference between hacks and cruel jokes, and between sign-ins and graffiti.

Terri Iuzzolino '93->