A distinctive style of shared intellectual humour found among hackers, having
the following marked characteristics:
1. Fascination with form-vs.-content jokes, paradoxes, and humour 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).
2. 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
3. Jokes that involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre, ludicrous, or
just grossly counter-intuitive premises.
4. Fascination with puns and wordplay.
5. A fondness for apparently mindless humour 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.
Humour that combines this trait with elements of high camp and slapstick is
6. 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 koan.
See also filk and retrocomputing. 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
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