Calling all nerds/geeks/dorks and Socially acceptable people
February 28, 2008 11:51 PM   Subscribe

Asking this on behalf of a friend of mine: can you help him out with a quiz that will give him an accurate description of how someone will stand on a DNG/SA scale that he's created--where DNG stands for Dork, Nerd, Geek, and SA stands for Socially Acceptable? (Bear with me for a second, will you?)

"So while out with my roomie and a friend of ours, we discussed how my g/f rates as a 4.5 on the nerd scale. However, she disputed this, saying that the rating system was overly subjective and that she would like to appeal the rating given out by the committee (the committee consists of myself, my roomie, his brother, and two friends). So, we've decided to come up with a rating system. The "Dork/Nerd/Geek" rating divided by the "socially acceptable" rating gives us the DNG/SA ratio. Our goal is to come up with enough questions covering the DNG area of things (with varying degrees of dork, nerd, and geek dom) while still factoring in how socially acceptable or "normal" someone may be or might appear. So, to keep some sense of objectivity in the creation of this, I thought I'd seek some suggestions.

What I'm looking for from you guys are some activities, habits, or quirks that may make someone either DNG or SA and give that activity a rating between 1 and 10. For instance, what the committee agrees upon as the a 10 in the nerd area of things is LARPing (Live Action Role Playing). For the record, I've never done this, never plan to, but I've known people who have. Another instance would be watching sports or following a popular TV series...that would garner somewhere between an 8 or 10 (depending on the sport or TV show) on the SA rating.

So, if you have any suggestions, please, let me know. Also, if you're suggesting anything for the DNG, please indicate whether you believe this activity to be dorky, nerdy, or geeky.

Once we figure out which questions to include, we're going to figure out whether or not we'll do a "yes/no" format, or the "strongly disagree/often/whatever thru strongly agree/least often/whatever" format that you see on weirdo personality tests and job apps sometimes. After that, it's a matter of figuring out the math and a little bit of coding. We're thinking of putting it online ;p Yes, our DNG/SA ratio is undoubtly high."
posted by hadjiboy to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Yeah, I know--the genius misspelt undoubtedly:)
posted by hadjiboy at 11:52 PM on February 28, 2008

I hate to kick over sandcastles but I think this has been done many times before. The tests at are ones I remember taking a long time ago. But if your friend wants to go forward with this at least he has things like that to use as resources. Perhaps he can make the mother of all geek tests, like the Geek SATs or something.

But to cut my negativity with a bit of levity, here's a classic Onion article: Gaywads, Dorkwads Sign Historic Wad Accord.
posted by XMLicious at 1:06 AM on February 29, 2008

I don't know whether its D, N, or G, participating regularly in a web forum like Metafilter has to be a seven or eight.

Joshing aside, I think there are some difficulties defining 'socially acceptable.' Are SA activities those which most people in our culture regularly engage in? Or are they what might be deemed acceptable in terms of 'not geeky,' 'cool,' etc? Because it's hard not to rely on the latter, which is mere stereotyping. Does watching sports make one more socially acceptable, even the majority of persons don't follow sports? This Onion article comes to mind. Perhaps a scale of introversion/extroversion or intellectual/social behavior is what you're looking for?
posted by farishta at 2:27 AM on February 29, 2008

hadjiboy, you old socially unacceptable dork nerd, why doesn't your "friend" just stump up the 5 sponds and ask herself?
posted by mattoxic at 2:58 AM on February 29, 2008

Response by poster: why doesn't your "friend" just stump up the 5 sponds and ask herself

Ah, I only wish it was a her, but alas--I am NOT that lucky!

Actually, I would like him to join, but then this wouldn't be my little place anymore... oh well--it had to happen sooner or later. I'll tell him to stop by here, if he dares;)

XMLicious, thanks for the link, and the article... you too farishta--appreciate it!
posted by hadjiboy at 3:51 AM on February 29, 2008

I think anyone who KNOWS someone who has LARPed gets a rating of about 8 or 9 on the Dork scale. Anyone who knows the difference between Dork, Nerd, and Geek should probably get a 7 or 8. And please, for the sake of my self-esteem, don't let me ever take this test. :-)
posted by Grither at 5:20 AM on February 29, 2008

I think anyone who KNOWS someone who has LARPed gets a rating of about 8 or 9 on the Dork scale.

Hey, I resemble that remark! (I lived with someone that LARPed. Regularly. And it was a Harry Potter themed game. Oh, the horrors.)

On to the real question, although I like the concept a great deal I fear there is too wide a range to cover in geekdom. There are the obvious ones of LARPing, D&D, comic book obsessions, Ren Fair visitors, gamers, etc. But then you get special subspecies of the nerd/geek/dorks. The Norse mythology geeks. The Kung Fu or Zombie movie obsessed. The puppeteers. I'd say all of my friends have an obsession that makes them nerdy, geeky or dorky in one sense or another. Where do you draw the line?
posted by piratebowling at 6:49 AM on February 29, 2008

I think dorky is on a different axis than socially acceptable, though there may be a correlation. Some folks are undoubtably dorky, and yet quite socially adroit, knowing how to hold conversations and negotiate social situations with ease.

Besides, "non-dorky" folks sometimes have the most disgusting hobbies, such as collecting Disney paraphernalia. Give me Tolkien or Warcraft any day over that Mickey Mouse drek.
posted by explosion at 7:55 AM on February 29, 2008

You're a Nerd if this quote sets you free:

"I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds. I mean, uh, all our lives we've been laughed at and made to feel inferior. And tonight, those bastards, they trashed our house. Why? Cause we're smart? Cause we look different? Well, we're not. I'm a nerd, and, uh, I'm pretty proud of it."

"Hi, Gilbert. I'm a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There's a lot more of us then there are of you. I know there's alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might've been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you're a nerd or not, why don't you just come down here and join us. Okay? Come on."

"Just join us, 'cuz, uh, no one's gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends."

The opposite of Nerd isn't Socially Acceptable. It's Jock.
posted by breezeway at 8:48 AM on February 29, 2008

I think the true sign of being socially skilled enough to avoid being pigeon-holed as a dork/nerd/geek/whatever is that you're able to get along and enjoy spending time with people from different walks of life regardless of what sort of hobbies you're into. I've known people who are serious geeks about 'socially acceptable' things like sports or popular TV shows, and people who have healthy, socially acceptable interests in 'geeky' things like Magic: The Gathering or community weblogs (though LARPing is in its own realm entirely). Social acceptability is all about whether or not you're able to keep your obsessions from annoying other people, no matter what they might be.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:14 AM on February 29, 2008

Yeah, I'm with explosion. You've got two axes, one being, say, "interest in arcane things" (or programming skills or whatever) and the other being social acceptability. Then you label the quadrants, you know, "dorks who go to RenFaire" (no offense) vs. "drama club members" or whatever.
posted by salvia at 9:29 AM on February 29, 2008

My son is a music geek. I would have to rate that by how many tunes you currently have on your (latest generation, naturally) Ipod.
posted by misha at 9:35 AM on February 29, 2008

My own personal chart:

Dork Summary: Social awkwardness
Dork traits: Obnoxious conversation-halting laugh, Inability to sustain conversation, Breaks out in hives around opposite gender, All clothing provided by software companies, Virgin

Nerd Summary: Fascination with knowledge
Nerd traits: UNIX, Esperanto, Blue box, Stephen Hawking, prefers DVORAK, Has built a functional trebuchet, Internet tough-guy, Enrolled in Japanese language class, Still hates discrete math, Word of the day calendar

Geek Summary: Embarrassing guilty pleasures
Geek traits: LARPing, SCA, Juggling, Science Fiction, Star Trek/Wars, MMORPGs, Comics

Certainly the best explanation of geekery comes from Ernest Cline - The Geek Wants Out.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:08 AM on February 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thanks, idiotfactory! I failed all three -- and I'm a software developer. I knew I didn't fit in with the DNG's at work. Made my day.

Guess that makes me the (former) jock who is technologically capable. I feel the need to kick some bits in the face of my coworkers.
posted by trinity8-director at 11:39 AM on February 29, 2008

Anyone who knows the difference between Dork, Nerd, and Geek should probably get a 7 or 8.

To piggyback onto this, is idiotfactory's breakdown accurate? I had no idea.
posted by juv3nal at 2:59 PM on February 29, 2008

A lot of questions that spring to my mind are somewhat specific to your age group. Eg:
- How many times a month would you "hit the town" on a Friday or Saturday night?
- How often, per year, do you get drunk with your friends?
- Do you like dancing at nightclubs?

These can be useful when applied to the 20's unmarried demographic, but will be garbage if the same conclusions are kept while also applying the question to the middle-aged-parent demographic. :-/

If you're doing a smart questionaire, age, marital status, number and age of kids, etc could be asked and affect the judging of the answers. That's getting ambitious, but is also potentially very cool :-)

A line of inquiry resistant to the above stages-of-life changes - what kind of toys do you want?
SA guys tend to want stuff like powerboats. DNG guys often lean more towards reliving (and building upon) childhood, such as the mega-set of [favourite childhood toy line] that they desperately wanted as a kid but could never afford such a thing and never got it for Christmas. DNG toys are often actually toys :-)

Another line more resistant to stages-of-life - questions about making changes in personal style, haircuts, adopting a new look, etc. (DNG are more likely to have a narrower comfort zone of dress that changes very slowly over the years).

Also, read the symptoms lists for Aspergers Syndrome. Water down each symptom 95%, turn it into a question, and see if it's useful :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:26 PM on February 29, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks! I'll be passing them on to my friend and hopefully it'll help him.
I'll try and get him to steer by here as well.
posted by hadjiboy at 11:01 PM on February 29, 2008

Via the MeFi Gary Gygax thread, an amusing geekological diagram from the NY Times.
posted by XMLicious at 8:16 AM on March 10, 2008

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