Hack value

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Hack value is the notion among hackers that something is worth doing or is interesting. This is something that hackers often feel intuitively about a problem or solution; the feeling approaches the mystical[1] for some.

An aspect of hack value is performing feats for the sake of showing that they can be done, even if others think it is difficult. Using things in a unique way outside their intended purpose is often perceived as having hack value. Examples are using a matrix printer to produce musical notes, using a flatbed scanner to take ultra-high-resolution photographs or using an optical mouse as barcode reader.

A solution or feat implies hack value if it is done in a way that has finesse, cleverness or brilliance. So creativity is an important part of the meaning. For example, picking a difficult lock has hack value; smashing a lock does not. By way of another example, proving Fermat's last theorem by linking together most of modern mathematics has hack value; solving the four color map problem by exhaustively trying all possibilities does not (both of these have now in fact been proven).

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