Nerds Rejecting Nerds


I was linked to this article after a discussion that was triggered by a Tweet:

In this article, the author describes a group called "weird nerds", later renamed "hackers", and goes through some of the reasons why this group is rejecting new members of their community (namely "brogrammers" and "geek feminists", a false equivalence if ever there was one).

As someone who fits the author's idea of a hacker (the classical definition of hacker, not someone who breaks into computers), and yet has never felt like part of the hacker community, there are a lot of things in here that are bad, but I'll comment for now on a couple quotes:

When weird nerds watch the cool kids jockeying for social position on Twitter, we see no difference between these status games and the ones we opted out of in high school.

Hacker culture has its own ways of jockeying for social position, which often includes Twitter, that mostly boil down to being the most correct (but not too correct to be seen as pedantic). In this way, hacker culture is no different from any other social culture: There are social rules, there is subterfuge and intrigue, there is inclusion and exclusion. Hackers want to think they are above this, but they are not. They're only human.

Your code makes you great, not the other way around. We don’t always live up to this value as well as we should; as evidence, consider the sheer number of women who’ve pointed out that they feel more accepted when presenting themselves and their work under a gender-neutral or masculine pseudonym. In our ideal world, though, your identity and personal history are orthogonal to your commit history.

As far as I can tell, all geek feminists want from the hacker community is for them to follow this value that they ostensibly believe in: That an idea should be judged on its merits and not on its originator, and that since a good idea can come from anyone, anyone should be welcome.

Throughout the article, the author seems to want this too, but seems oblivious as to what parts of the hacker community are preventing it. Those parts are, unfortunately, the same behaviors that, as she writes, ostracized the "weird nerds" and caused them to create the outsider hacker culture.

In the comments, there are two takes on the article I found enlightening, the first of which resonates with me, despite that I identify as male.