MIT student who came up with insenstive joke site about the homeless: Yeah, I'm insensitive, but so's Mark Zuckerberg, so suck it

The story behind HoboJacket, in which the author spends most of his time discussing how he built the site and ends with a comparison to Mark Zuckerberg (note to kid: He went to, um, Harvard). Among the valuable life lessons he learned from making bums/Caltech the butt of his joke:

People like to mess with you. The forms on the page are only capable of submitting integers to the database server (ie. every state and university has a numerical id; all data transmission is conducted by passing around those ids and some other datum.). I took a look at some of the server log files. People were sending post requests to donate "balls balls balls" on behalf of "dicksuniversity". I'm glad I took the effort to sanitize inputs or else the database would have been wiped several times already.

Oh, yes, thank goodness for sanitized inputs!

Via Boston Daily.



    Free tagging: 


    Grey area?

    By on

    I agree that it's mean-spirited and people should treat homeless people with the dignity that human beings deserve, but on the other hand, would the people buying these for a laugh be giving money to charity otherwise? And since this has a tangible benefit, isn't that an acceptable trade-off for the disrespectful intention? Those who wish to give with respect have plenty of avenues to do so. This isn't nearly as disgusting to me as political campaigns or wifi-hotspot companies "employing" this same target demographic.

    Plus, I don't know if any of the people helped by these donations would care too much about why they were donated:

    "One day I commented on the fact that one of the men was wearing a Giants jacket. I was teasing him about it. He responded, “It’s not a Giants jacket, it’s a warm jacket” and where he bought his clothes they didn’t have Patriots jackets."

    Nope. Regardless of the end

    By on

    Nope. Regardless of the end result, intentions matter. And this dude is a complete dick. He is the whole package of dick. He is equating another school with worthlessness, and then equating ALL HOMELESS PEOPLE with worthlessness. Dick dick dick dick dick.

    Programming ability != Maturity

    By on

    Both I and my husband went to MIT, but we would have to draw straws/flip a coin to decide who got the pleasure of hauling one of ours out of school by the nape of his neck if we discovered that this is what we sent out into the world.

    I'd far rather release competent adults to the world, rather than superacheiving assholes like this. I hope his parents are proud.

    Road to hell paved with good intentions

    By on

    This guy actually did something that helped those in need. What have you done to substantially improve the lot of the people all around you who are in dire straights?

    I think a lot of the pushback on this is from people who are made uncomfortable because it challenges them to confront their own objectification of the homeless and the measure of their own personal actions in the face of our society's widening poverty.

    You mean like when they treat

    By on

    You mean like when they treat us with dignity when cursing us out for not having any spare change? Screw the homeless, they're on the streets for a reason. And you'll never see me give them a dime.

    Hilariously subversive!

    By on

    I love this idea! Objectifying the homeless? Duh, of course - everytime anyone uses the phrase 'homeless' - or any other term that defines to an entire population by a single characteristic and as a united 'thing' - they are guilty of objectification.

    But the idea to take an impulse of (literally) sophmoric rivalry and morph it into a practical (and substantial) act of philanthropy is inspired!

    You think you're better than this kid? What the hell have you done to keep a stranger warm today? If you want to show how enlightened you are go ahead and donate money to buy one of your own alma mater's jackets!

    Muffin stumps

    By on

    There's some truth to this. The guy doesn't care about the homeless; he was just using them to crack a joke at Caltech's expense. That some homeless people will actually get clothes was an unintended consequence.

    Wait - he said the *exact* opposite of that!

    By on

    eg "HoboJacket is meant to be an edgy way to incentivize more people to donate."

    You and others (here and elsewhere) seem to be attributing motivations to this guy that I have not seen him make - either on his site, nor in the quotes of the linked articles.

    He spells out pretty clearly that his intent was to take a petty joke and re-engineer it into an act of practical assistance.


    btw, like swirlygrrl, I'm an MIT alum. But I find the idea of homeless folks being given warm jackets with the MIT logo delightfully ironic. Swirly - if you know anything about the current state of societal awareness among MIT students, you'd know that even thinking about the plight of the homeless puts this guy in the 90th percentile. Actually creating something that will have an immediate positive impact on the lives of others who are suffering? That puts him in the top 99.9th.

    Who the frak cares if someone from Caltech or MIT is embarrassed by seeing a poor stranger in their alma maters' colors? It might actually shake them up and make them take a new look around. I say good on him for a successful culture jam!

    "everytime anyone uses the

    By on

    "everytime anyone uses the phrase 'homeless' - or any other term that defines to an entire population by a single characteristic and as a united 'thing' - they are guilty of objectification."

    The word "homeless" was created because of the negative connotations of previous terms like "beggar", "bum", and "tramp".

    So if you find the word "homeless" offensive, what word do you propose instead?

    Never said i had issue with the word 'homeless'

    By on

    Perhaps using the word 'guilty' in the same sentence gave an inaccurate read - my bad. I was trying to point out that objectification is something all humans do - we are pattern-matching, categorizing creatures. Its a neccessary strategy for getting through life - but it goes from useful to counter-productive when it's used lazily - when our categories become so rigid and unyeilding that we lose sight of the individual in front of us. I love the idea of homeless individuals wearing Ivy league branded clothes because I think it will shock some people out of their complacency.

    I object mostly because it was written up in Boston Magazine

    By on

    Boston Magazine is a hellacious neo-yuppie rag. I want to whack anyone who reads this piece of garbage with serious intent with a rolled up magazine, like you'd smack a pooch on the head for being bad.

    I worked for a while at MIT and they do indeed have many exceptionally snotty and clueless students. Ranking somewhere on the Autism scale seems to be a prerequisite to getting into MIT.


    By on

    That's no excuse or even explanation for being an asshole - maybe clueless in direct interaction, but not an asshole.

    Agree about Autism

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    I dated an MIT grad and he had Asperger's but that's not why we broke up. We broke off because we were incompatible.

    This kid went to MIT and

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    This kid went to MIT and didn't know to sanitize his inputs?