Everything.

A blog about nothing. By Don Kuntz.

You're probably not for hackers

It seems like lots of software being built these days is “for hackers”. Turns out most of it really isn’t.

We should first have a common definition of a “hacker”, because everyone probably has a slightly different definition in their head. Because I like being technical, and there’s an RFC which defines the term hacker, we’re going with it:

hacker
A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular. The term is often misused in a pejorative context, where “cracker” would be the correct term.

RFC 1983

Ignoring the last sentence, because it isn’t pertinent here, the definition implies that hackers typically Know Their Shit^(™) when it comes to computers and programming, and likes to tinker.

Taking a look at a recent example, Logdown, “the missing blogging platform for hackers”. The only thing event remotely hacker-y is that it uses markdown for writing blog posts.

It’s missing, at the bare minimum, the following things to have it even be considered something for hackers:

  • The ability to modify the source, in any way you want.
  • The ability to control the environment it’s hosted from.
  • The ability to use your own domain name, without paying for the feature.

Great, you can import posts for Jekyll (or, apparently, only Octopress, so don’t be trying anything fancy with your vanilla Jekyll setup), but why would I want to give up the ability to change anything and everything about my site and have to pay for several things I could get for free?

Basically, don’t say it’s for hackers, unless it really is for hackers. Jekyll gets it right, as do other static site generators. Even WordPress gets it right, and it doesn’t even attempt to sell to hackers.