The Geek Code is a series of letters and symbols used by geeks to inform fellow geeks about their personality, appearance, interests, and opinions. The idea is that everything that makes a geek individual and different from all the other geeks in the world can be written down (encoded) in this very compact format. Then other geeks1 can read the Geek Code and work back from that to discover what the writer looks like, what interests he has, and so forth. This is deemed to be efficient in some sufficiently geeky manner.
A sample 'Geek Code block' looks like this:
-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
GMU$ d-@ s: a+ C++ U?@ 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------
- the Geek Code of one h2g2 Researcher
The Geek Code was invented by Robert Hayden and is defined at geekcode.com. The idea has subsequently been extended to many other occupations and groups, from goths to multiples, but the Geek Code is the original such code.
In some parts of the net, it was once common practice to use a Geek Code as one's signature, though those times are now long past. One of the consequences of being around so long in such a fast-moving field is that much of the Geek Code now looks rather dated. Creating a Geek Code for yourself then is almost like nostalgia for nerds.
Once created, geeks can use their Geek Codes anywhere they please. Previous places include emails, websites, letters, artwork, program language comments, and even T-shirts. Nowadays, personal websites are the most common breeding ground, particularly any 'about me' sections.
The 'Geek Code Block' formatting, which is optional, is a parody of the output produced by the encryption program PGP. Within the Geek Code Block there is a line specifying the version of Geek Code being used. The next line starts with the letter G (for Geek) followed by the geek's occupation(s). In this case, the geek is a Geek of Music, as represented by the GMU. Then we get into the Geek Code proper.
There are a number of letters in the Geek Code, each of which represent a category. For example, the lower-case letter t represents Star Trek. The Geek Code's author has this to say about Star Trek:
Most geeks have an undeniable love for the Star Trek television show. Because geek is often synonymous with trekkie, it is important that all geeks list their Trek rating.
Meanwhile, the lower-case letter r represents relationships. Geeks are less associated with relationships than they are with Star Trek, and the Geek Code author has this to say about them:
While many geeks are highly successful at having relationships, a good many more are not. Give us the gritty details.
The Geek Code website at geekcode.com contains the complete list of categories, along with all the special syntax options. The choice of categories (from version 3 onwards) reflects what geeks consider important. Appearance takes up three categories, computers - 13, computer-related politics - two, general politics - two, computer-related interests - six, other interests - three, lifestyle and sex - four. Can you spot the pattern here?
Although some categories have special syntax, generally each category is followed by a series of + or - signs showing how much the geek agrees or disagrees with the category. For example, t+++ indicates a geek who thinks this about Star Trek:
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.
On the other hand, someone who puts r--- in his Geek Code feels the following way about relationships:
I'm beginning to think that I'm a leper or something, the way people avoid me like the plague.
It must be those Vulcan ears scaring away potential mates. Here is a description of one geek who might be r---, or at least in need of serious help. Don't worry if you don't understand the long words:
A particularly sad geek friend of mine once wrote a De-Geek code, linked with a database compiler, so he could search his friends by their geek tendencies. Unfortunately, he only had two friends so this didn't work very well...
The meaning of each category can be changed in subtle or not-so-subtle ways using punctuation marks as modifiers. For example, an @ after a category means that the geek's feelings on this category are not very rigid and can change with time, while a dollar sign implies the geek is in the enviable position of being paid for his work in this category.
Decoding a Geek Code
Of course the only real way to read or write Geek Code is by hand. Some people feel they have more important things in their life, like changing that r--- to a happier state, so Joe Reiss wrote an Ungeeker for us to use. There is a similar program by Pete Williams available.