What's the Difference Between a Hack and a Trick?

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Recently, a bank teller in California foiled a robber by convincing him that he actually needed to take out a loan, busying the criminal with paperwork until the police arrived. Do you consider the teller's action a social hack?

Here's the story, as reported in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he walked into a Watsonville bank, said he had a bomb in his backpack and demanded $2,000 so he could pay his friend's rent, police reported.

But when Mark Smith, 59, allegedly tried to rob the bank, the bank manager suggested that what he actually needed to do was take out a loan, and she had him sit down while she said she was going to retrieve the loan paperwork. Instead, she called 911, according to Assistant District Attorney Dave Genochio.

"Quick-thinking staff kept the man calm and distracted him with some paperwork until we arrived," Lt. Darren Thompson said.


It got us wondering: what's the distinction between a social hack and a trick? Some of us contended that because the teller succeeded in modifying a very direct goal—robbing a bank—it could be considered a hack. Others thought that to be considered a hack, in the vein of Kevin Mitnick's infamous social engineering, someone had to gain access to something.

Is modifying someone's behavior enough to consider something a hack? Or is a hack fundamentally something that happens with hardware? Let us know what your definition of "hack" is in the comments. [Santa Cruz Sentinel via BoingBoing]