/won'*-bee/ (Or, more plausibly, spelled "wannabe") [Madonna fans who dress, talk, and act like their idol; probably originally from biker slang] A would-be hacker
The connotations of this term differ sharply depending on the age and exposure of the subject.
Used of a person who is in or might be entering larval stage
, it is semi-approving; such wannabees can be annoying but most hackers remember that they, too, were once such creatures.
When used of any professional programmer, CS academic, writer, or suit
, it is derogatory, implying that said person is trying to cuddle up to the hacker mystique but doesn't, fundamentally, have a prayer of understanding what it is all about.
Overuse of hacker terms is often an indication of the wannabee
Historical note: The wannabee phenomenon has a slightly different flavour now (1993) than it did ten or fifteen years ago.
When the people who are now hackerdom's tribal elders were in larval stage
, the process of becoming a hacker was largely unconscious and unaffected by models known in popular culture - communities formed spontaneously around people who, *as individuals*, felt irresistibly drawn to do hackerly things, and what wannabees experienced was a fairly pure, skill-focussed desire to become similarly wizardly.
Those days of innocence are gone forever; society's adaptation to the advent of the microcomputer after 1980 included the elevation of the hacker as a new kind of folk hero, and the result is that some people semi-consciously set out to *be hackers* and borrow hackish prestige by fitting the popular image of hackers.
Fortunately, to do this really well, one has to actually become a wizard.
Nevertheless, old-time hackers tend to share a poorly articulated disquiet about the change; among other things, it gives them mixed feelings about the effects of public compendia of lore like this one.