When 40,000 passes to Burning Man went on sale last Wednesday, selling out in under an hour, some technically gifted and morally unburdened Burners had already disrupted their way to the front of the ticket line. As Wired reports, 200 tickets were attained via "a technical 'backdoor'" through which some were able to queue up minutes before the sale began, scoring first dibs. It's estimated that 80,000 would-be Burners were waiting impatiently for the $390 tickets at the time.
Some, such as CBS 5, are jumping to the well-worn conclusion that Silicon Valley has once again ruined Burning Man. "Bay Area Techies Hack Into Burning Man’s Ticket System, Jump Ahead 80,000 Waiting In Line," they write.
"They left code in the page that allowed you to generate the waiting room URL ahead of time," Michael Vacirca, a software engineer at a large defense corporation, explained to Wired. “If you knew how to form the URL based on the code segment then you could get in line before everyone else who clicked right at noon.” And, as anyone familiar with this or other online ticket sales is aware, milliseconds in click speed can make all the difference. After compiling technical information from Ticketfly, Burning Man officials were able to confirm that such a backdoor had indeed been created and exploited. But rumors of hacking had proliferated as soon as ticket sales began. During the ticket free-for-all, Rob Banagale, a San Mateo-based founder and apparent hacker tweeted he had “figured out a hack” and landed at the front of the line.
We figured out a hack to getting to the front of the Burning Man ticket line: @burningman pic.twitter.com/qSYcXDIkUF— rob banagale (@jetsetter) February 18, 2015
However, the waters are murky because Banagale now claims that he Photoshopped his tweet and was basically just trolling.
My ha-ha tweet about 'hacking' to the front of the Burning Man Ticket line made it into the official BMorg blog: http://t.co/mBpCkbeYWb— rob banagale (@jetsetter) February 23, 2015
At nearly the same time, another software engineer, one Jonathan Hart of SF's Idle Games, tweeted out that he had technically bested the Ticketfly system and "crawled out" with two tickets. It's unclear if we have another troll in Hart, or whether he was part of the backdoor hack.
Officials from Black Rock City LLC have announced their plans to track down and cancel any and all hacked ticket orders. The 200 ill-gotten passes will be back on the market during the scheduled last-minute "OMG Sale" in August.
Burning Man, a sort of self-governing society, might see fit to decide on its own punishments for the hackers. Below, an idea for a reprimand that would be too extreme.
Previously: [Update] Burning Man Tickets Sold Out In About An Hour
Exclusive: Someone Is Bringing A 747 Jumbo Jet To Burning Man This Year
Not Content To Ruin Just San Francisco, Rich Techies Are Gentrifying Burning Man Too