(also, more plausibly, spelled wannabe) [from a term recently used to describe Madonna fans who dress, talk, and act like their idol; prob.: 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 terms from this lexicon is often an indication of the wannabee nature. Compare newbie.
Historical note: The wannabee phenomenon has a slightly different flavor 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-focused 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.