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March 09, 2005


This is a quote from the article from boston.com about what the rejected Harvard Business School applicants did: "This behavior is unethical at best -- a serious breach of trust that can not be countered by rationalization." It also used the words "hack", "hacker", or "hacking" twelve times.

Meanwhile, this is a description of what the quote-unquote hackers actually did. It's basically grab a GUID from a URL, look in the HTML page source for an embedded 7-digit number, and combine those into the parameters to a .asp page.

OK, so obviously this wasn't something you could do accidentally; people were intentionally doing something to get information they knew they weren't supposed to have yet. But this is "hacking"? Please. I know I have personally done that kind of URL tweaking on websites, and I bet I would have done it if I had been an HBS applicant. Does this mean I am ethically lacking? Who knows. To me the fact that it was information I was going to receive anyway, and it was so easy to get, makes it OK, but obviously if I have ethical issues than I can't trust my own judgement. What is more annoying is that these people are being demonized as "hackers", which is a complete misuse of the term. And HBS is doing this to bolster their case for denying admission. How is that ethical?

Philip Greesnpun discuss the ridiculousness of this; it also came up on Slashdot. Here's a post from one of the 119 people who "hacked in", who said he was rejected anyway.

Posted by AdamBa at March 9, 2005 10:23 PM

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