The Geek Code, developed in 1993, is a series of letters and symbols used by self-described "geeks" to inform fellow geeks about their personality, appearance, interests, skills, and opinions. The idea is that everything that makes a geek individual can be encoded in a compact format which only other geeks can read. This is deemed to be efficient in some sufficiently geeky manner.
The Geek Code was invented by Robert A. Hayden in 1993 and was defined at geekcode.com. It was inspired by a similar code for the bear subculture - which in turn was inspired by the Yerkes spectral classification system for describing stars.
After a number of updates, the last revision of the code was v3.12, in 1996.
Geek codes can be written in two formats; either as a simple string:
GED/J d-- s:++>: a-- C++(++++) ULU++ P+ L++ E---- W+(-) N+++ o+ K+++ w--- O- M+ V-- PS++>$ PE++>$ Y++ PGP++ t- 5+++ X++ R+++>$ tv+ b+ DI+++ D+++ G+++++ e++ h r-- y++**
...or as a "Geek Code Block", a parody of the output produced by the encryption program PGP:
-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK----- Version: 3.1 GED/J d-- s:++>: a-- C++(++++) ULU++ P+ L++ E---- W+(-) N+++ o+ K+++ w--- O- M+ V-- PS++>$ PE++>$ Y++ PGP++ t- 5+++ X++ R+++>$ tv+ b+ DI+++ D+++ G+++++ e++ h r-- y++** ------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------
Note that this latter format has a line specifying the version of Geek Code being used.
(Both these examples use Hayden's own geek code.)
The code starts with the letter
G (for Geek) followed by the geek's occupation(s):
GMU for a geek of music,
GCS for a geek of computer science etc. There are 28 occupations that can be represented, but
GAT is for geeks that can do anything and everything - and "usually precludes the use of other vocational descriptors".
The Geek Code website contains the complete list of categories, along with all of the special syntax options.
There have been several '"decoders" produced to transform a specific geek code into English, including:
- Bradley M. Kuhn, in late 1998, made Williams' program available as a web service.
- Joe Reiss made a similar page available in October 1999.
- Susan Leigh Star (1995). The cultures of computing. Wiley. pp. 10–20.
- Romenesko, James (May 17, 1996). "The Code of the Geeks". Washington Post. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
- ["Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2004.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- "geek code". The Jargon File (version 4.4.7). Retrieved November 16, 2018.[dead link]
- "The First Gay Space on the Internet". Slate.com.
- Unlike the Geek Code, the Yerkes system uses classes, subclasses and peculiarities for categorization. These systems differ in their orthogonality: the Geek Code is very orthogonal in the computer science sense (where variables may be projected onto basis vectors), where the Yerkes system is very orthogonal in the taxonomic sense (representing mutually exclusive classes).
- Serge K. Keller (May 8, 2017). "An archival copy of The Code of the Geeks v3.12".
Parker, Quintin (1997). "The Acorn Code – Geek Code Supplement". Archived from the original on July 13, 1997. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
The problem is, for us Acorn users, is that it asks you quantify all your opinions of UNIX and PC programs, whereas many of us wouldn't even touch them with a bargepole!
- Robert Hayden. "geekcode.com". geekcode.com. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- "The Geek Code Decoder Page". Ebb.org. Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- The site first appears in the Internet Archive on December 7, 1998 ("Geek Code Decoder history at the WayBack machine". The Internet Archive. December 7, 1998. Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2008.).
- Reference to the site first appears in the Internet Archive on October 7, 1999("Geek Code Decoder history at the WayBack machine". The Internet Archive. February 9, 1999. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016.).
- Robert Hayden's official Geek Code web site (presenting v3.12)