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Ask HN: Where do the real hackers hangout?
63 points by factorialboy on Aug 13, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments
Is it still Freenode / IRC?

Why do I ask?

I remember 15 years ago, say 2004, technical sites weren't commercial. Except Experts Exchange ofcourse.

Nowadays I can't trust opinions of people because I fear they are selling me something. Framework authors are only building frameworks on the side, their real business is building a hosted service for whatever they are building.

Nothing wrong with that.

I just miss a simpler time. And want a slice of that again.

I had similar feelings a year ago and wanted to setup a “diet” for my mind; I’d only allow quality information, opinions to enter my mind, not just random stuff.

Firstly, the best way to access/find valuable knowledge is still books. Then, I have Freenode open in background for technical conversations, and also follow some good quality podcasts in non-technical subjects; from history to art.

If I got a question, I either ask in Freenode or ask trustworthy people by e-mail.

No social media. No news websites (except HN).

I’m a lot happier with this set of communication and information channels.

That's a great way to put it - a diet for the mind.

On that note, do you mind sharing the list of podcasts you subscribe to?

Freenode is a good place.. the /list command will show you channels once you connect. Popular ones are #hardware, #linux, #windows, #python, #debian, #bash, ##networking, etc. There is a channel for most major technologies.

My biggest gripe with Freenode is that a lot of popular channels are silent. Hundreds of users, but all lurking with very little conversation going on.

For me, the best channel was always #csharp. Every time I logged in, there was always a group of people talking. Any time I had a question, I could ask it and a handful of people would either give you the answer or would talk you through the problem and help you come up with an answer. That kind of guidance is often lacking from modern programming forums/q&a sites.

>I could ask it and a handful of people would either give you the answer or would talk you through the problem and help you come up with an answer.

The best times for me are when members help me come up with a question. I'd have a problem I could vaguely formulate in long paragraphs, and then someone from the #python channel would write down my problem in one concise question of technical writing that is so spot on that I immediately think of the correct solution.

The #python (and mailing list) crowd has done this to me so many times.

I spend a lot of time in #python and usually it's quite active and helpful.

I think I’m one of those people you are talking about. I don’t hang out in a secret place. I hang out here, subreddits for languages I’m interested in, many Slack groups for things I’m interested in, iMessage/SMS with current and previous co workers whom are enjoyable to talk to. I also hang out with my family and read a ton of programming books. If you find a secret place with more of these people I would love to know.

Please define "real hackers".

People who don't sellout to the corporate agenda... watching HN'ers downvote me for pointing out the videogame industry has been stealing PC games for the last 20 years was alarming. We went from owning diablo, warcraft and starcraft games to not owning them... that is a major change and to see a place that calls itself the place of "hackers" and nerds, who theoretically should all be about fighting to preserve culture against the corporate onslaught against our basic rights to own our own software and not have it tied to "the cloud" is disturbing in it's own right.

Seems everyone wants to be a slave to the mainframe and have no privacy and no general computing.

Not getting that the corporations of the world are hell bent on turning the PC into a dumb client and everyones bending over is disturbing.

The stuff Microsoft has in the pipe with UWP and encrypted computing is alarming on its own, "honest files" of the past, not trapped in some vm or some remotely controlled new microsoft file system and license servers for this new Software as a service (aka stealing your software an selling to back to you at inflated prices) is madness itself.

There is no reason for any piece of software whether that be an OS, Office application or Game to be divided between our computers and the companies.

I see what you're saying. But I'm curious what the future you described will actually look like. I am NOT curious in the least about the good old days. I know it, it's boring to me. Having privacy and total control over your computing is fine, whatever, I've seen it a thousand times already. It's good. But in today's world what is the benefit of that? The market doesn't respond to that, does not reward it. Human psychology likes the alternative of thin client and total survelience much better because it's more convenient and because it already has more momentum.

So I'm curious what will happen when you can't do almost anything on your computer without it being inside proprietary cloud. When everything I do is recorded, aggregated, and analyzed by mismanaged big data experts. When real life decisions are made that affect me based on this data by some faceless entity without consulting me. Kind of like what China does with their social credit score but much more elaborate. When there are people who are within this system and those who are outside because they are rich and powerful.

It really fascinates me. It can't get so bad as to be intolerable in my lifetime. And what if I become rich and get real power? The ability to make important decisions that change the global landscape. Will I be good or evil? Nowadays rather than complain about the top 0.0001% it's better to put the energy into becoming the top 0.0001%.

And by the way, you never owned Warcraft or Diablo. I suspect that to satisfy you all one needs to do is to realse a few really good and engaging games. You shall have your games and you will play them in the evenings. But during the day you WILL write survelience code for collecting plausable reasons to crush somebody inconvenient to the illuminati.


You misunderstand me. What if I'm the monopoly who wants to jack up prices and extort? I. Me. And a few select people working for me who I reward, plus a bunch of nameless employees who I don't care about. But primarily me. Then there is no problem is there?

Anyways, my apologies. I see I really pinched a nerve here. I will become smarter and understand the basics of big businesses. It's a good thing to do especially if you want to become the monopoly, right?

There is no such thing as a real hacker. Same as there is no true Scottsman - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

I take issue with "real" hacker categorisation as it implements a gatekeeping barrier for people and the definition of what a hacker is differs between communities.

Mostly the same places they always did. Inertia is strong like that. Most of them miss a simpler time, just like you do, but hey, so it goes.

mostly (and still) on the un-encrypted IRC :D

Ok, so hear me out: I'm a young dumb kid, and I just don't get irc. I'll join a supposedly active irc channel for something I'm working on, do whatever the channel wants as far as registering, etc. Once I'm in, nothing.

No one seems to be chatting about anything, the only messages I see are logging people joining and leaving. One time I left an irc client open for hours and i finally saw some other human asked a question. After that , more nothing, I don't think anyone replied to them. These servers often show 100s or 1000s online too!

Am I doing something wrong, or am I missing something I need to use irc?

This is my experience on irc today as well. It’s dead.

I used to keep a few channels open at work all day long in 2007. #j2me, #java, #c. The conversation was active with no more than a few minutes of silence at a time. People would say good morning at the start of the day, goodbye at the end, they would talk about their weekend. It was like a virtual break room where you could ask tech questions (except #c was hostile to questions, those guys were weird) and make friendships.

It’s not just less active now. It’s dead every time I look.

It's totally not dead. I've thought for years that IRC is underrated now. I'd much rather participate in an IRC channel than something like, say, Slack. Active channels come and go. Some legacy channels are better than others. Some of them die and people move on to next level, more obscure channels. I just mentioned as an example in a comment above my experience in #python on Freenode which has been overwhelmingly active and positive. You also need to consider when the channel is most active, it's usually gonna be late afternoon and evening in US and European time zones. YMMV.

> This is my experience on irc today as well. It’s dead.

It's not dead. You're just in the wrong severs.

This is just over the past couple days: https://i.imgur.com/WUFiL18.png

I wouldn't call it dead at all.

where/how do you connect to these rooms? I would love to hang out in the #linux room

As the other reply said: Freenode. But I also am on other servers and many other channels.

I run a The Lounge[0] instance on a cheap VPS.

[0] https://thelounge.chat/

The channels from his screenshot are on Freenode.

thank you!

2007 EfNet #java was an absolutely magical place.

Honestly, I think things started declining when the original jjava bot got wiped :( RIP, jjava.

But yes, IRC channels in those days didn't take kindly to questions from people who didn't bother reading the docs, and imho that was a very good thing. Nobody properly learns by being spoonfed.

1. Run a bouncer - this is a program that will log messages and keep you aware of conversation when you aren't actively connected (really the bouncer stays connected and you just connect to it)

2. Most channels have a time of day when they're alive. That may not be when you're in them.

3. Turn off/Suppress the join/leave messages in busy channels. You'll be happier.

For those wanting to check out bouncers, give IRCCloud[0] a try for a (free) hosted bouncer, or look into running your own with ZNC[1].



znc >

Some channels are just like that. If you have a question, usually you just ask and wait a while until someone gets around to answer it or have a conversation with you about it.

Checking my IRC client since yesterday, there's at least 500 new messages in almost all channels I've joined. Some more popular channels like #linux have constant conversations going.

What server do you use?

A person's server list is like a little black book. They'll likely not share so other people don't pollute it.

Freenode primarily. Plenty of other servers out there for different communities, too.

Some people have amassed a collection of channels throughout the years that were probably pretty active in the past, but aren’t anymore. Some people like me might notice this and remove them from my autojoin list while others won’t care since idling in a channel is a pretty negligible performance hit.

I think that's accurate. People who think "IRC is dead" are probably in the wrong channels and need to invest a little time updating their autojoin list.

That's fairly typical when you join an IRC channel where most people are in a substantially different timezone to you.

If you're in a channel at the same time as other people, it's fairly common for it to be active. Assuming interesting things to talk about. ;)

I miss hanging out in #CSS with the topic explicitly saying the channel wasn’t about Counter-Strike: Source. You’d still get new people asking for a scirm every so often though.

5v5 box-model against grid layout GO GO GO

Go A! Go A! Go A!

I spent a part of my youth on Open Projects network especially in phreaking channels, I think real hackers are still there. Also I think that some of them decided to be more public and start to be active on Twitter or Telegram communities.

Most likely in private, invite-only chat servers and email lists of various kinds. Anything that's publicly exposed to the internet has too much noise these days. I remember when it was difficult to moderate a chat channel or a web forum back in the 00's. It's much tougher today because of the volume of people you're exposed to.

"Only once you can successfully wrestle a herd of monkeys will you truly be ready to manage your forum."


> Most likely in private, invite-only chat servers and email lists of various kinds. Anything that's publicly exposed to the internet has too much noise these days.

Honestly, this is the best answer. I would argue private IRC channels and servers because the people who use IRC are less likely to use the data-collecting behemoths that are Slack and Discord.

Didn't the Capitol One hacker brag about it on Slack?

what/where lone wolf hackers do to hang out

A cheapo router as in goodwill or bargain basement, that has nas functionality, can often find a home in starange places. be creative about using other than factory casings, and find a place to piggyback some power, you will have a dead drop. secure the router with something hackish for a password, and even use LAN encryption. Keep doing this as often, and as wideley as possible, and when you come back to maintain the drop, and review the dropped material to scrubb out the knuckledragger porn and flaming, you can reveal a number of precious gems. it doesnt need to connect to the internet it only needs to be reliable and have storage. you may even get enough access points to mesh them.


this should give you some ideas as well:


look for old telephone subscriber boxes or other casings that are common in the wild to put your dead drop into.

Im from the era when BBS ing was moby huge, and we would war dial all night to get a list of potential BBSs and other fun numbers that gave a modem handshake.

Not hacker specific but IMO its somewhat unfortunate that most of the good/intellectual internet has moved into private chats, secret slacks, etc.

This is OK except that it makes it much more difficult for newcomers to find the good thing, so the pipeline is worse. Sometimes nowadays it is hard to discover and be discovered.

Twitter still works OK.

Check out Noisebridge in SF.[1] It and other hackerspaces around the world are full of people tinkering with and making stuff. You only have to stroll around the space to see the fruits of their labor.

[1] - https://www.noisebridge.net/

Other peoples boxes /joke

If you have to ask, you're probably not leet enough to join us... jk, freenode of course!

digital - freenode, in person - hackerspaces. try googling hackerspaces in in your town/city. if there aren't any, start your own.

I don't imagine that information will be shared here in an open forum.

Clarification - I don't mean "hackers" as depicted in the movies.

I'm referring to nerds, geeks, engineers, tickerers etc. who do it for the love of doing it. Not for building a commercial operation.

I personally have the intuition that tinkerers and engineers on the verge of commercialization are the most interesting. The open open source world of completely passionate volunteerism just seems a bit anemic to me, unable to gather the momentum or energy of others around them.

in the walled gardens of the r&d department of big corporates

lurking in private Slack channels and Blind

Why not? It's not pornography, and likely not so taboo on a website called "Hacker News".

group meetups

github issues


Why would they be in jail?

Try your local makerspace

True hackers can see the underlying structure of things others don't see. True hackers have the ability to solve problems others don't see. Real hackers are somewhere learning to see and helping others connect what's true so they can see too.

So, Slack?

Riot, Keybase, Freenode, the list goes on...

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