Hacking is a long-standing tradition at MIT and a part of its culture. It can be defined as either the curious exploration of MIT’s campus or the design and implementation of harmless pranks, tricks, and creative inventions that demonstrate ingenuity and cleverness. Exemplary hacks have been executed in such a way that the hackers have been safe, no one has been injured, no damage has been done to personal or Institute property, while maintaining the privacy and personal dignity of individuals.
Over many years, the hacking community has developed an expected set of guidelines:
- Be Safe – Your safety, the safety of others, and the safety of anyone you hack should never be compromised.
- Be Subtle – Leave no evidence that you were ever there.
- Leave things as you found them – or better.
- If you find something broken call F-IXIT.
- Leave no damage.
- Do not steal anything.
- Brute force is the last resort of the incompetent.
- Do not hack while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not drop things off (a building) without a ground crew.
- Do not hack alone.
- Above all exercise some common sense.
-Source: Wall on the student street in Stata; by tradition
Ultimately individuals are responsible for their actions and any intentional or unintentional consequences. While the “Hack Etiquette” is a very useful guide, responsible behavior also includes not acting in a manner that makes a police officer or MIT employee feel unsafe in the conduct of their duties (for example, running or hiding when discovered). Labeling something as a hack does not change unlawful behavior into lawful behavior, nor is it an excuse or justification for violations of MIT policy. Notwithstanding that they may occur in connection with a hack, violations of MIT policies may still result in disciplinary action.