The Jargon File is a living document

The Jargon File is a living document, an evolving resource chronicling the language and culture of computer hackers. If you are a hacker, a linguist, a cultural anthropologist, or just an intelligent person with something relevant to contribute, it's your right and privilege to help it grow.

The Jargon File has always been maintained by volunteers. There's no secret password or arcane protocol to getting an entry added or changed. Send your suggested new entries, or changes to old ones, to

Who the editors are

The editorial "we" used below refers to the current volunteer editor of the Jargon File and maintainer of the Jargon File Resource Pages, Eric S. Raymond, and the members of two mailing lists who assist and advice him.

One mailing list, jargon-friends, is closed, it consists of the coauthors of the original 1983 Hacker's Dictionary, Eric Raymond, and a publisher representative. The other, jargon-helpers, is open to all interested parties; mail to to join.

The editorship of the File has changed hands before and will again. If you are steeped in hacker lore, expert by and fascinated with the language game, and think you might be up to the job, please join jargon-helpers and show us.

How we evaluate suggestions

Here are the questions we ask ourselves when we read what people send us:

Is it really hacker slang?
An entry may be outside the File's scope if it's established technical jargon that you'd find in a computer science or engineering textbook. Or if it's mainstream slang used by hackers but not unique to hackers.

Is it really in live use?
We don't want `slang' that's just the private coinage of one or two people. We like to have two independent cites for each entry (by `independent' we mean that they don't come from two close friends or people with adjacent desks).

How much provenance and usage information is attached?
All other things being equal, your entry will much more likely to make it if you include not only the raw definition, but an at least plausible story about where and by whom the term is used, and how it originated.

Will it help a newbie understand hackers and the net better?
One of the Jargon File's functions is to be a guide for the perplexed newbie (and acculturate newbies who are proto-hackers into our grand tradition). Entries get points for illuminating aspects of hacker culture that newbies need to know, even if they seem obvious to long-time net habitues or have become so ingrained in veteran hackers that they're reflexive.

Does it show the hacker spirit?
The hacker spirit is like that famous judge's definition of pornography; we don't know how to define it, but we know it when we see it. It's partly intelligence, partly technical competence, partly wry humor, partly an unabashed dedication to creativity and honesty and intellectual exploration, all wrapped up in a tinkerer's itch to build something that actually works. Every good thing the Jargon File can accomplish depends on showing the hacker spirit.

How we edit entries

We fix spelling, syntax, and usage errors. We edit (usually lightly) to get entries into a uniform style we think of as "highest-quality hacker" -- informal and only loosely bound by conventional usage, but pithy, precise, and punchy.

We do not generally leave proper names in entries; this is to try to keep getting into the Jargon File from becoming an ego contest. The way we like to put it is that you can't get your name mentioned in the File unless you're already so famous that most readers will recognize it.

However, this doesn't mean you should leave proper names out of etymologies and the like. We keep mail archives which scholars may someday excavate for more information (someday we'll probably HTMLize them and link them to the Jargon File itself).

Eric S. Raymond <>