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Eric S. Raymond Unveils New List Of 'Hacker Archetypes' ( 116

An anonymous reader writes: Open source guru Eric S. Raymond has announced public brainstorming on a "gallery of hacker archetypes to help motivate newbies" by defining several different psychologies commonly found among programmers. He's unveiled an initial list developed with a friend, along with some interesting commentary. (Algorithmicists often have poor social skills and "a tendency to fail by excessive cleverness. Never let them manage anyone!")

Raymond cautions that "No hacker is only one of these" -- though apparently most of the hackers he knows appear to be two of them, "an indication that we are, even if imperfectly, zeroing in on real traits." But the blog post ends by asking "What archetypes, if any, are we missing?"

It'll be interesting to see if Slashdot readers if they recognize themselves in any of the archetypes. But the blog post also answers the inevitable question. What archetype is Eric S. Raymond?

"Mostly Architect with a side of Algorithmicist and a touch of Jack-of-All-Trades."
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Eric S. Raymond Unveils New List Of 'Hacker Archetypes'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, 2017 @06:38AM (#54201441)

    Well TIL.

    Imagine getting to be Internet famous today for writing a few extensions to a POP3 suite. Life was once pretty easy.

    • by lucasnate1 ( 4682951 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @06:41AM (#54201447)

      Considering we have celebs like Milo-something and gangam guy, I think that becoming famous is not about what you did but how loud and presentable you are.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      He also introduced his politics into the "jargon file", don't forget that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't underestimate the role that esr had on the fledgling open source movement.

      While his software accomplishments may be looked down upon by some, it was his role as a free thinker and a spiritual leader of the open source movement that was his greatest accomplishment.

      Movements need leaders. These leaders act as a sort of "glue", tying together heterogeneous individuals and factions into one cohesive homogeneous movement. That's what esr did. His writings gave an entire community a common purpose, a common

      • by Anonymous Coward

        At first I thought ESR posted that as AC, but then I remembered Mr. Poe's advice and read it again. Now I think it was written by Bruce Perens.

      • He also co-founded the OSI, and wrote quite a bit of technical documentation for Linux (HOWTOs). If we disparage technical writers, then we won't have technical documentation. It takes all sorts and he does a good job of it.
      • by epine ( 68316 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @01:32PM (#54202401)

        If you remove the contributions of rms, the open source movement never would have started. If you remove the contributions of Linus, the open source movement would have never reached the heights it reached today. If you remove the contributions of esr, the open source movement would have fractured and broken into nothingness.

        This is the kind of post-hoc hagiography that fuels Ayn Rand's objectivism crap mountain.

        Out of these three, it's only hard to imagine a different, yet equally grand path if RMS had never occurred. His foundational dog work on binutils invited many others to host parties they could not have otherwise managed to throw.

        Due to RMS as a unique personality, we got a highly political license sooner than we would have by another probable path. This was both a strength and a liability, whose relative magnitudes are almost impossible to judge in retrospect.

        Without Linus, FreeBSD either would have become far more participatory, or some variant with a far greater embrace and tolerance of messiness would have forked within two years. And since this wouldn't have embraced GPL at the system level, Gnu HURD might even have been finished, with perhaps a necessary course correction or two under mounting pressure from a large install base.

        Saying that open source wouldn't exist as it now does without ESR is pretty close to saying that the internet boom of the late nineties would not have happened without George Gilder. ("George who?" all the children ask. Exactly my point.)

        Certainly charismatic figures come along when the moment is ripe to crystallize the zeitgeist, but history does not record that these people have ever been in short supply (something that would become immediately obvious if that stupid scheme from Atlas Shrugged had ever been tried for real in the real world.) Generally, you can never have more than a few of these types at any given time, because the human psychology of prophets and prophecy accrues special powers to the lone voice. A solitary howling wolf is divine revelation, a million howling wolves is just a statistical noise (see again the howlingly ludicrous legacy of one Ayn Rand).

        • Not an adherent of the "great man" theory of history then?

        • It does take people to advocate for ideas, but the time usually has to be right too.

          Reminds me of Antonio Gramsci's comments on economic change: []
          "Gramsci was concerned to eradicate economic determinism from Marxism and to develop its explanatory power with respect to superstructural institutions. So, he held that:
          * Class struggle must always involve ideas and ideologies, ideas that would make the revolution and also that would prevent it;
          * He stressed the role performed by h

      • by nomadic ( 141991 )
        "While his software accomplishments may be looked down upon by some, it was his role as a free thinker and a spiritual leader of the open source movement that was his greatest accomplishment"

        Well, the problem is he has spent a long time bragging about his software accomplishments, trying for decades to craft this image of himself as an effortless universal programming genius who understands it on a deep level, when his actual achievements don't merit that image in the slightest. [] Which wouldn't be so bad
        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Mr Raymond is a tricky bugger. I would not be surprised if this story was not purposefully released to create a data set based upon the responses, With each type of response being categorised to hacker archetype. Of course it wont be real fun until a full psych test is crafted to further analyse archetype responses.

          Could be really useful for employment, keeping hackers best employed within the archetype to be more productive, less purposefully unproductive and to prevent burn out from having to continuall

    • Yes, because he never did anything else. He didn't write "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", for example. He wasn't one of the first Open Source advocates at all. Nope. All he ever did was write a few lines of code.
    • I got thanked for a contribution of a couple of lines of my public
      domain code that made it into OpenOffice. I suspect it was sarcastic.

  • The traveller (Score:5, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @06:54AM (#54201467)

    What archetypes, if any, are we missing?

    The type for whom the journey (or development process) is all. They love creating something: code, hardware, paintings. And for them, it is the production that matters, not the the final result. You might call them "perfectionists" because they will never finish anything (until they get bored and just drop it, to start travelling on a different journey) and will constantly be adding new parts, features or functions.

    Their favourite saying is "just another couple of weeks" when asked by their team-leader, project supervisor, manager when their assignment will be ready. But 2 weeks later, the answer is still the same. Although they are enthusiastic, their failure mode is that they never produce an end product and their office, lab or home is full of half-completed projects.

    • Re:The traveller (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @08:22AM (#54201593) Homepage

      You might call them "perfectionists" because they will never finish anything (...) Although they are enthusiastic, their failure mode is that they never produce an end product and their office, lab or home is full of half-completed projects.

      I think those two are different archetypes. What you describe is a type of "abandonist" that runs into trouble/uncertainty but rather than work through it procrastinates by starting to work on something else, however since almost every project has some hardship they leave a trail of half-finished things in their wake. I know a person who is like that with home renovation, rather than do one thing in one room and finish he'll start on twenty things in five rooms and never finish. He is roughly as far from a perfectionist as I can think of. Perfectionists are people who refuse to deliver anything until they've tweaked it to some arbitrary standard of perfection that solves every corner case with every nice-to-have feature. They just don't know when to stop and deliver.

      I think I'll also add a third archetype, the reinventer. This is the kind of person who - without any real effort or review - can tell you that everything you have is crap and should be rewritten from scratch, probably using Ruby on Rails and NoSQL or whatever is the buzzword of the day. They're the tech version of the trade magazine CEO who'll jump on any buzzword thinking this will solve our problems. And if you're foolish enough to listen he'll soon be exploring the next new fad saying RoR is so yesterday and we should rewrite everything in Node.js instead. Right now the magic buzzword is SQL Server Master Data Services, that'll solve our master data problems. Not.

      • probably using Ruby on Rails and NoSQL or whatever is the buzzword of the day.

        Yeah actually I think you're three layers behind in your buzzwords. RoR is solid now, but it hasn't been hot since ~2006

      • There is a second type of Reinventer. And he sits at the opposite of your Reinventer. It's the guy who will call bullshit on every open source framework (or other) and will start implementing his own version from scratch. The claim will usually be that the framework doesn't completely matches the needs and creates too much overhead. Instead, he'd rather implement an application server, logging system, or a generic client-server framework, load-balancing from scratch, etc... Years later, after most bugs are
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      In my experience a better name for this archetype is "The Incompetent". They claim to be making great progress, almost done, but never get it working. Then they move on or are invited to leave.
  • Algorithmicists: Very good at algorithms and sustained, intricate coding. Have mathematical intuition, and are one of the two types (with Architect) that have the highest tolerance for complexity. They like the idea of correctness proofs and think naturally in terms of invariants. They gravitate to compiler-writing and crypto. Often solitary with poor social skills; have a tendency to fail by excessive cleverness. Never let them manage anyone!

    I wonder if this is why I'm only allowed to start and end vacations on prime numbered days but only if the duration is a power of two. ;)

  • by Digital Avatar ( 752673 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @09:15AM (#54201685) Journal

    Great. That's just what we need... the equivalent of MBTI for Hackers. Hey, maybe next April we can come up with a guide to Hackers' astrological signs! I'm sure that will be informative and totally not a navel-gazing waste of time.

    • Hey, maybe next April we can come up with a guide to Hackers' astrological signs!

      I can see the punchline: Cancer afflicts one in twelve.

  • That thread is already so long I doubt it will make it in:

    Accidental intruders: Exceptionally curious hackers with a broad knowledge and understanding of how different systems work and interrelate. These individuals thrive on and learn primarily by exploring any and every system they are given access to. These types of hackers do not break into anything that is not there's on purpose, but can easily break security and enter into a secured area without realizing they have broken in.
  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @12:21PM (#54202177) Homepage Journal

    Originally, the art of using algorithms was called algorism [] so the person in question would be an algorist. The -ithm in algorithm was apparently added due to words like arithmetic.

    I've also seen "algorithmist" which follows the common logic of adding -ist to a known concept, so that too would be somewhat acceptable.

  • I'm probably a JOAT. I understand broad concepts but I never got into the nitty gritty of anything. That drives recruiters up the wall because I'm willing to do anything and that makes it difficult for them to pigeonhole me beyond being an enterprise-level technician. I've done software testing for virtual worlds and video games, help desk/desktop support, PC refresh projects, built out a data center, hardware testing on 11AC-equipped laptops, and, currently, InfoSec remediation.
  • "But the blog post also answers the inevitable question. What archetype is Eric S. Raymond?"

    Uhhh, no, that just answers the question "what archetype does Eric S. Raymond THINK he is?" Come on, the man is a narcissistic self-promoter with vile political views and a very flimsy "hacker" resume.
  • I dont see Sharpshooters are the opposite to Architects. Design from the bottom up, simplify from the top down, its the only way to perfection.

    Or, maybe that explains why i never finish anything...

    or do i ?

  • Each archetype really needs a picture!

    See the Flame Warriors Guide [] as an example.

  • "Learn your hacker archetype by answering these 00100000 questions!"

    Me? Um ... architect because it makes my life easier, sharpshooter if necessary, tinker since it's my job, algorithmicist as long as it's signal processing related.

    Definitely not castellan or translator. The most complex UI I had to manage was "one button, one LED".

  • I would like to see this assessment done with the collection of data done by a Myers-Briggs or enneagram (with wing analysis) test. I think it would produce some interesting and more revealing results about strengths and vulnerabilities, this really being able to drill down on the conscious and subconscious drivers of rat "type" of hacker.

Usage: fortune -P [] -a [xsz] [Q: [file]] [rKe9] -v6[+] dataspec ... inputdir