The Geek Code

The Geek Code

Updated Jun 17, 2013 at 10:24PM EDT by amanda b..

Added Jun 17, 2013 at 02:39PM EDT by amanda b..

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The Geek Code is a series of letters and numbers contained in signature blocks[9] used by self-identified geeks to describe their interests, personalities, appearance, skills and opinions to other members of the geek community. The codes were initially used by newsgroup posters in their email signatures, later progressing to message board signatures and dedicated sections on homepages.


The Geek Code was created by Robert A. Hayden of Minnesota State University, Mankato, who submitted the first version[10] to the Usenet groups alt.geek and rec.humor on August 11th, 1993. The code contained elements pertaining to a person’s vocation, dress style, political views, computer interaction, skills with Linux and Unix, education level, musical interests, physical shape, eating habits, living arrangements, friendships, vision status, weirdness, love of Star Trek, experience with role-playing and sex life.


The geek code consists of several categories. Each category is labeled with
a letter and some qualifiers. Go through each category and determine which
set of qualifiers best describes you in that category. By stringing all of
these ‘codes’ together, you are able to construct your overall geek code.
It is this single line of code that will inform other geeks the world over
of what a great geek you actually are.

Some of the qualifiers will very probably not match with you exactly.
Simply choose that qualifier that MOST CLOSELY matches you. Also, some
activities described in a specific qualifier you may not engage in, while you
do engage in others. Each description of each qualifier describes the wide
range of activities that apply, so as long as you match with one, you can
probably use that qualifier.


Geeks can seldom be quantified. To facilitate the fact that within any
one category the geek may not be able determine a specific category,
variables have been designed to allow this range to be included.

@ for variable, said trait is not very rigid, may change with time or with individual interaction. For example, Geeks who happen to very much enjoy Star Trek: The Next Generation, but dislike the old 60’s series might list themselves as t++@.
() for indicating “cross-overs” or ranges. Geeks who go from
c+ to c--- depending on the situation (i.e. mostly “c+”) could

use c+(---). Another example might be an m++(*). This would be a person who mostly listens to classical music, but also has an extensive collection of other types of works.

@ is different from () in that () has finite limits within the category, while @ ranges all over.


Geeks come in many flavors. The flavors relate to the vocation of the particular geek. To start a code, a geek must declare himself or herself to be a geek. To do this, we start the code with a “G” to denote “GEEK”, followed by one or two letters to denote the geeks occupation or field of study. Multi-talented geeks with more than one vocation should denote their myriad of talents with a slash between each vocation (example: GCS/MU/T).

GB -- Geek of Business
GCS -- Geek of Computer Science
GE -- Geek of Engineering
GM -- Geek of Math
GMU -- Geek of Music
GS -- Geek of Science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc.)
GSS -- Geek of Social Science (Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
GT -- Geek of Theater

GO -- Geek of Other. Some types of geeks deviate from the normal geek activities. This is encouraged as true geeks come from all walks of life.
GU -- Geek of ‘Undecided’. This is a popular vocation with new freshmen.

GAT -- Geek of All Trades. For those geeks that can do anything and everything. GAT usually precludes the use of other vocational descriptors.


Geeks come in many different types of dress.

d I dress a lot like those in Walmart ads
d+ I tend to wear trendy political messages like “Save the Whales” or “Free South Africa”.
d++ I tend to wear conservative dress such as a business suit.
d- I tend to wear trendy political messages like “Nuke the Humans”, “Question Authority”, or “Big Brother’s Watching”.
d-- I wear jeans to work just to piss off my boss
d--- At work, I have holes in my jeans and/or obscenities on my shirt.

d? I have no idea what I am wearing right now, let alone what I wore yesterday.
!d No clothing. Quite a fashion statement, don’t you think?
-d+ I wear the same clothes all the time, no matter the occasion, often forgetting to do laundry between wearings.


Just as the Geek’s sense of fashion is varied, so is his/her political convictions.

p Politics? I’ve heard of that somewhere but in all honesty I really don’t give a shit.
p+ Let’s get the government off of big-business’s back
p++ All in favor of eliminating free speech, say aye!
p+++ Fuckin’ Minorities! Adolf Hitler is my hero!
p- Bring back the 60’s
p-- I’m still living in the 60’s
p--- No taxes through no government

-p+ Don’t label me you moron! Both sides are equally fucked up!


Most geeks identify themselves by their use of computers and computer networks. In order to quantify your geekiness level on computers, consult the following (consider the term ‘computers’ synonymous with ‘computer network’):

c Computers are a tool, nothing more. I use it when it serves my purpose.
c+ Computers are fun and I enjoy using them. I play a mean game of Wing Commander and can use a word processor without resorting to the manual too often. I know that a 3.5" disk is not a hard disk. I also know that when it says ‘press any key to continue’, I don’t have to look for a key labeled ‘ANY’.
c++ Computers are a large part of my existence. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is log myself in. I mud on weekends, but still manage to stay off of academic probation.
c+++ You mean there is life outside of Internet? You’re shittin’ me! I live for muds. I haven’t dragged myself to class in weeks.
c++++ I’ll be first in line to get the new cybernetic interface installed into my skull.
c- Anything more complicated than my calculator and I’m screwed.
c-- Where’s the on switch?
c--- If you even mention computers, I will rip your head off!


Linux is a hacker-written operating system virtually identical to unix. It runs on your standard 386/486 PC computers and offers multitasking support far superior to DOS. Because it is still a young OS, and because it is continually evolving from hacker changes and support, it is important that the geek list his Linux ability.

l I know what Linux is, but that’s about all
l+ I’ve managed to get Linux installed and even used it a few times. It seems like it is just another OS.
l++ I use Linux almost exclusively on my system. I monitor comp.os.linux and even answer questions some times. I’ve aliased Linux FTP sites to make getting new software easier.
l+++ I am a Linux wizard. I munch C code for breakfast and have enough room left over for a kernel debugging. I have so many patches installed that I lost track about ten versions ago. Linux newbies consider me a net.god.
l- I have no desire to use Linux and frankly don’t give a rats ass about it.
l-- Unix sucks. Because Linux = Unix. Linux Sucks. I worship Bill Gates.

!l I don’t even use an 80×86 chip, so linux isn’t really a reality for me. (ie, Mac people).
l? What the hell is Linux? I’ve never even heard of it.


Just as geeks sometimes use Linux, a great many geeks also use generic Unix machines to accomplish their geeky ends.

u I have a unix account to do my stuff in
u+ I not only have a unix account, but I slam VMS any chance I get.
u++ I’ve get the entire admin ticked off at me because I am always using all of the CPU time and trying to run programs that I don’t have access to. I’m going to try cracking /etc/passwd next week, just don’t tell anyone.
u- I have a VMS account.
u-- I’ve seen unix and didn’t like it. DEC rules!
u--- Unix geeks are actually nerds in disguise.


All geeks have a varying amount of education.

e K-12, been on a college campus.
e+ Started a B.S./B.A, plan to finish it some day.
e++ Had not learned enough to know better not to go back and try for a master’s degree.
e+++ Still pretty stupid, over qualified to work any job, went and got my Ph.D.
e- Got my bachelors, escaped alive, and am making hoards of money writing unmaintainable (except by me) software.
e-- The company I work for was dumb enough to fund my way through a masters degree, then started paying me even more money.
e--- Achieved a Ph.D, have devoted my life to insignificant research, which my employer pays dearly for.

e* I learned everything there is to know about life from the “Hitchhiker’s Trilogy”.


Musical interests vary widely, also.

m I occasionally listen to the radio
m+ I own a tape or CD collection (records also count, but you would be admitting how old you really are).
m++ I consider myself refined and enjoy classical and new-age selections
m+++ I consider myself over-refined and grok that heavy-duty elevator music.
m- Just play it loud
m-- I play air-guitar better than anyone else.

m* I am an expert on so many types of music that I can’t even keep them straight


Geeks come in many shapes and sizes. Shape code is divided into two parts. The first indicates height, while the second indicates roundness. Mix each section to fit yourself. Examples include: s/+, s/, s+/--.

s I’m an average geek
s+/+ I’m a little taller/rounder than most.
s++/+ I’m a basketball/linebacker candidate.
+/++I usually have to duck through doors/I take up three movie seats.
s-/- I look up to most people. Everyone tells me to gain a few pounds.
s--/-- I look up to damn near everybody. I tend to have to fight against a strong breeze.
s---/---I take a phone book with me when I go out so I can see to eat dinner. My bones are poking through my skin.


Geeks usually consume food. Some eat everything they can grab while some others are quite conscious of their food. (Note: ‘n’ is used for nutrition as ‘f’ is used elsewhere.)

!n Eh what? never mind the menu, give me something to eat!
n+ I like food – especially when it is healthy.
n++ I like the fibers in food
n- Food? I just grab something from the shelves with meat in it.
n-- I eat only the cheap things – even with artificial meat and vegetables.
n--- I live on snacks and coke.



h Friends come over to visit every once in a while to talk about Geek things. There is a place for them to sit.
h+ Living alone, get out once a week to buy food, no more than once a month to do laundry. All surfaces covered.
h++ Living in a cave with 47 computers and an Internet feed, located near a Dominoes pizza. See !d.
h- Living with one or more registered Geeks.
h-- Living with one or more people who know nothing about being a Geek and refuse to watch ‘Star Trek’.
h--- Married, with the potential for children. (persons living with a fiance might as well label themselves h---, you’re as good as there already.)

h* I’m not sure where I live anymore. This lab/workplace seems like home to me.


Yes, it’s true; geeks do have friends. At least, some of them do.

f Yeah, I have friends. Who told you?
f+ I have quite a few really close friends. We get along great. They are all other geeks, though.
f++ I have so many friends, I make other people jealous.
f- I have a few friends. They barely seem to speak to me anymore.
f-- I’ve got about one friend left in the world, who probably wants to shoot me.

f? I think I have friends.
f* Everyone is my friend.
!f I have no friends. Get lost.


Geeks have traditionally worn glasses.

!g I have no glasses
g+ I’ve got four eyes, what’s your point?
g++ I’ve got four eyes and tape in the middle
g+++ I have coke-bottle classes that I can use to start leaves on fire in the hot sun.
g- I have contacts
g-- I have colored contacts
g--- I have those funky contact that have interesting designs on them such as happy faces or some such.


Geeks have a seemingly natural knack for being “weird”. Of course, this is a subjective term as one person’s weirdness is another person’s normalness. As a general rule, the following weird qualifiers allow a geek to rate their weirdness.

w I am not weird. I’m perfectly normal.
w+ so? what’s your problem with weird.
w++ I am so weird, I make Al Yankovic look sane.
w+++ Mainstream? I heard of that once, I think.
w- I’m more normal that most people normally are.
w-- Isn’t everyone in the p+ group?


Star Trek:
Most geeks have an undeniable love for the Star Trek television (in any of its three forms). Because GEEK is often synonymous with TREKKIE, it is important that all geeks list their Trek rating.

t It’s just another TV show
t+ It’s a damn fine TV show and is one of the only things good on television any more.
t++ It’s the best show around. I have all the episodes and the movies on tape and can quote entire scenes verbatim. I’ve built a few of the model kits too. But you’ll never catch me at one of those conventions. Those people are kooks.
t+++ It’s not just a TV show, its a religion. I know all about warp field dynamics and the principles behind the transporter. I have memorized the TECH manual. I speak Klingon. I go to cons with Vulcan ears on. I have no life.
t- Maybe it is just me, but I have no idea what the big deal with Star Trek is. Perhaps I’m missing something but I just think it is bad drama.
t-- Star Trek is just another Space Opera. William Shatner isn’t an actor, he’s a poser! And what’s with this Jean-Luc Picard? A Frenchman with a British accent? Come on. I’d only watch this show if my remote control broke.
t--- Star Trek SUCKS! It is the worst crap I have ever seen! Hey, all you trekkies out there, GET A LIFE! (William Shatner is a t---)


Role Playing:
Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons have long been a part of the traditional geek life. Because geeks often become so involved in their role-playing that they lose touch with reality, include one of the following role-playing codes.

r Role-Playing? That’s just something to do to kill a Saturday afternoon
r+ I’ve got my weekly sessions set up and a character that I know better than I know myself
r++ There is no life outside the role of the die. I know all of piddly rules of (chosen game). MY own warped rules scare the rest of the players.
r+++ I worship E. Gary Gygax.
r- Gosh, what an utter waste of time!
r-- Role-Players worship SATAN!


Geeks have traditionally had problems with sex (ie, they never have any). Because geeks are so wrapped up in their sexuality (or lack of sexuality for that matter), it is important that the geek be willing to quantify their sexual experiences.

This code also is used to denote the gender of the geek. Females use ‘x’ in this category, while males use ‘y’. For example:
x+ A female who has had sex
y+ A male who has had sex.

For those person who do not wish to give out any details of their sex life, the use of x? (where x is the gender code) will allow you to so.

!x Sex? What’s that? I’ve had no sexual experiences.
x+ I’ve had real, live sex.
x++ I was once referred to as ‘easy’. I have no idea where that might have come from though.
x- I prefer computer sex to real sex.
x-- I was once referred to as a ‘cyberslut’, but I have no idea where that might have come from.

x* I’m a pervert.
x** I’ve been known to make perverts look like angels.

x? It’s none of your business what my sex life is like (this is used to denote your gender only).


The Geek Code is copyright 1993 by Robert A. Hayden. All rights reserved. You are free to distribute this code in electronic format provided that the contents are unchanged and this copyright notice remains attached.


The Geek Code was inspired by a number of similar codes used as signatures in dating and sex newsgroups to clearly announce one’s sexual preferences of fetishes. This may have been inspired by handkerchief code[8], a flagging system popularized in the 1970s to help members of different sexual subcultures identify each other in public. Participants would wear a colored handkerchief associated with their particular fetish (chart shown below). If a person wants to be on the receiving end, the handkerchief is worn on the right side of their person, often in the back pants pocket or on a belt loop. If they want to be on the giving end, the handkerchief is worn on the left side.

The first online flagging system was The Bear Code[1], created on November 23rd, 1989 by Bob Donahue and Jeff Stoner. The code was used to help gay men who identify with the bear subculture[2] simply provide information about their physical appearance (i.e. amount of hair, weight and height) as well as aspects of their sexual interest, including touching, history and fetishes. In the early 1990s, discussion of the Bear Code appeared on a number of different newsgroups including[3],[4] and alt.personals.[5] In 1990, the Smurf Code[6] and the Twink Code[7] also began to circulate the web.


As early as 1994, a second version of the code was shared via HTML web page[11], adding sections for information on one’s car and spoken language as well as experience with Perl, Windows, Mac and Cypherpunks. A third version was released in 1995, along with the first code generator[12], allowing users to select the aspects that described them with radio buttons and checkboxes, automatically creating a code for them at the end. This version adding in a number of entertainment sections, including ones for fans of the X-Files and the comic strip Dilbert. In March 1996, the final version of the code was released on the domain[13], where Hayden noted he wanted to write a new version for the America Online-era, but became overwhelmed. The final code had 34 sections, double the original 17.

In 1998, Bradley M. Kuhn launched The Geek Code Decoder Page[14], a script that would easily provide an explanation of a person’s coded answers. Hayden’s Geek Gode was first defined on Urban Dictionary[15] in August 2005. A second decoder site[16] launched around Christmas 2006. Though mentions of the code tapered off in the late 2000s, in 2012, discussion of the code appeared on The Recruiters Lounge[17] and The Geek Anthropologist.[17]

Derivative Codes

As early as 1995, derivatives of the Geek Code began appearing on other Usenet newsgroups, tailored to other subcultures. That year, the Goth Code[19] and the Cat Code[20] were both created. Between 1996 and 2008, codes were created for furries[22], fans of Chip’n’Dale Rescue Rangers[23], swingers[24], Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans[25], hackers[26], knitters[27] and people with Autism.[28] A number of other codes were linked on The Goth Code’s[21] 1998 homepage.

Search Interest

External References

[1]Resources for Bears – The Bear Code

[2]Wikipedia – Bear (gay culture)

[3]Google Groups Archive – bear codes… for fun and profit.

[4]Google Groups Archive – Bear Code

[5]Google Groups Archive – alt.personals: Bear Code key

[6]QRDSmurfCODE™ 1.04

[7]xMission – The Twink Code, version 1.12

[8]Wikipedia – Handkerchief code

[9]Wikipedia – Signature block

[10]Textfiles – The Code of the Geeks v1.0.1

[11] – The Geek Code, by Robert Hayden.

[12] – The Generator for The Code of the Geeks v3.1

[13]The Geek Code – Home

[14] – The Geek Code Decoder Page

[15]Urban Dictionary – Definition for “Geek Code”

[16]The Geek Code Decoder – Home


[18]The Geek Anthropologist – How geeky are you: the geek code and the geek test

[19]PC’s Website – Goth Code Mini-FAQ

[20]Microserve – Cat Codes (Archive from February 1999)

[21]The Goth Code – Current Versions

[22]WikiFur – Furry Code (1996)

[23]Ranger Wiki – Ranger Code (1998)

[24]Yehoodi – What’s Your Swinger Code? (2000)

[25] – Buffy Geek Code (2003)

[26]Stargrave – Hacker key guide (2003)

[27]Knitty – The knitter’s geek code, v1.1 (2004)

[28]United Against Neurelitism – AutCode

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