Internet Web Culture

Loathsome Life Lessons: 13 Unethical Hacks Not To Try. Ever. [Weird & Wonderful Web]

Dave Parrack 06-07-2014

There are now a host of websites offering life hacks. These are simple ways of making your life easier; from a faster way of folding your shirt to methods for kickstarting your writing career Writing The Wrongs: 7 Essential Tips For New Authors It's easy to write a book. Writing a successful book is more difficult. We cannot guarantee greater success, but there are a handful of rookie mistakes we can prevent you from making. Read More . Some call these life hacks, other call these productivity tips. We here at MakeUseOf call them Self Improvement. But they all essentially suggest a better way of doing something.


Not all life hacks are created equal. Alongside the fantastic and fascinating life hacks are some that are so unethical (and borderline illegal) that no one in their right mind should even try to pull them off. With the generous help of Unethical Hacks we have compiled a list of 13 life hacks that only sociopathic misanthropes would ever take seriously.

Remember, kids, don’t try these at home, and if you do, we cannot be held responsible for your actions.

Unethical Hacks

Unethical Hacks (no longer available) is a fascinating little website created and run by the mysterious Michael Jaworski. It pulls together the best unethical hacks seen around the Internet. Some border on illegality, but most just use existing loopholes to make life that little bit easier. Because life is sometimes harder than it should be.

The site is also seeking to poke fun at Rob Ford, the current Mayor of Toronto and political trainwreck man of the people. The plan is to hire a tuba player to walk behind Ford for a whole day in homage to a hilarious Family Guy sketch.

But we digress. What follows are just 13 of the unethical hacks featured on the site. Enjoy them by all means, just don’t enjoy them so much you consider trying any of them for yourself.


Manipulative Email


Even if this is technically possible to do without getting caught it’s not nice. At all. It’s funny though, and extremely devious.

Delayed Purchase


We’ve probably all experienced something similar to this, usually by mistake. Promo codes Automatic Coupon Finders - Do They Really Help You Save Money? Like many good things in life, coupons and promo codes are elusive. Saving money is never an easy thing, after all, and when you’re trying to find valid codes for something specific, you usually end... Read More are far from guaranteed, but sudden and inexplicable price drops are common.


Returned Camera


Assuming you take one or two vacations every year you could probably use this method to avoid ever buying a camera 8 Tips You Should Know Before Buying Your Next Digital Camera There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all camera. Buying a digital camera is a big deal, so we've made it much easier to understand the kinds of cameras out there. Read More . What’s more you’d always have access to the latest model.

Disconnected Coinstar


It can’t really be that easy, can it? I imagine there is some kind of tamper alarm fitted to these machines. If there isn’t then that’s a major oversight on their part.


Thrifty Craigslist


This one is actually genius, and no one really gets hurt, physically, emotionally, or financially. If you make a habit of it, do give a little extra to the thrift store once in a while though. Because karma.

CV Shortcut


Getting your CV (or résumé) in front of the right person is often the biggest battle you face when looking for a job. This cuts out the middleman (or woman), meaning your CV Restyle Your Resume For Instant Results On The Job Market Today, I'm not going to share with you the golden secret to resumés that will guarantee you the job. That would be stupid. However, I can guarantee that your resume will be ahead of a... Read More will get read at the very least.


Google Formatting


This certainly works on YouTube, at least until Google’s far-too-clever-for-its-own-good Content ID system detects the copyright infringement. As for torrents, you’re on your own.

Sleepy Photographs


1. What happens if she then rings you to say good night? 2. You’re still lying to your significant other, which is really unpleasant. 3. She will find out eventually, because women always do.

Christmas Sales


This seems like a lot of work for very little gain. Unless you’ve bought someone a very expensive gift that’s then reduced by hundreds of dollars. In which case you’re surely well off enough not to pull this stunt in the first place.

Wikipedia Sources


This is a very well known life hack. And it has become common knowledge because it actually works. That is as long as the sources being cited on Wikipedia 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are... Read More can be trusted as accurate. Which is far from guaranteed.

Loss Aversion


This is playing into the basic human need to get a good deal whenever possible. It’s manipulation, sure, but all you’re really doing is persuading them to click ‘Buy’.

Distressed Hipsters


Don’t feel guilty for even a second. Hipsters are ridiculous 7 Great Websites Poking Fun At Hipsters Hipsters, or scenesters as they're sometimes called, are a sub-culture who want to be different. At all costs. That longing to be different has now come full circle, where it's actually the norm (or at... Read More , so it’s rather fitting that they’ll happily fork out ridiculous sums of money for “vintage” furniture.

Social Dating


This is fine up to a point, that point being when it crosses over from curiosity to stalking. People don’t tend to portray the full, unedited version of themselves on dating websites, so this could be a way of filtering out the waifs and strays.

Don’t Try These At Home. Because Evil.

Naturally we don’t condone any unethical hacks such as those outlined above. However, if you just happen to have anything similar lurking in that cold, dark brain matter of yours then please do share them with the class in the comments below.

We promise to pass the best suggestions onto the good folks at Unethical Hacks. We also promise not to pass your name to the authorities. At least until they force us to do so.

Image Credit: Lenore Edman via Flickr

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  1. Will Jayroe
    January 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Can people seriously stop using that damn "Because (insert one word reason for)" crap? I'm sick of it. It is lazy writing and it isn't funny.

  2. Saikat B
    July 9, 2014 at 8:32 am

    An idea borrowed from torrenting:

    Send out a mass email to the class the day before an exam saying I have just finished my study guide, and offer to swap it with other people. Never actually made a study guide. People would send me theirs and I would them send them each others back. Win win for everyone.

    Credit: Reddit

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      That is actually genius. And you, as middle man, get to see all of them.

  3. Howard B
    July 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    "Disconnected Coinstar" - Many banks/credit unions have fee-free "Coinstar"-style change converters (they dispense credit slips you can redeem at a teller's window), fee-free.

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Oh, that's very true. And in the UK at least you can just bag your change up and hand it over the counter. Coinstar is there for convenience.

  4. Macs
    July 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Not just hacks but this is theft from businesses

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Which one in particular?

    • Macs
      July 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      The Coinstar disconnect, is tampering with equipment and removing the fees to pay for the machine, the electricity, and administering the machine.

      The returned camera which was used is theft from the next owner. Cameras are only good for so many activation. How would you like to buy a car with a rolled back odometer?

  5. Kelsey T
    July 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm about posting disingenuous Facebook, Twitter and G+ posts so as to pad the points on MakeUseOf?
    That's as in, making those posts on every article you come across whether you really like the article or hate it, maxing out your daily limit of points, every day. Forever.

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Good point. That could indeed classify as an unethical hack.

  6. It's not me, it's you
    July 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I won't argue on three of the points. However, Wikipedia is a perfectly good starting point. I have discussed this with colleagues at all levels (e.g. teaching undergraduate and graduate courses) and all have the same belief as I do. What's the difference if you start with Wikipedia or Google? As long as the student is not solely using Wikipedia and placing the reference into his works cited section without actually referencing the material, we are perfectly content with that.

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Hey, that's cool. I'm sure some teachers and places of learning would be against this practice though.

  7. It's not me, it's you
    July 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Some of these are perfectly legitimate and far from unethical.

    - Delayed purchase, like James says, is not unethical because you're not lying to the store. It's like buying a car and negotiating except they are doing all of the negotiating and you're just waiting.
    - Wikipedia Sources - I instruct my college students to use Wikipedia as a starting point. However, I do tell them that if Wikipedia or any anonymously populated systems are used as sources, I will deduct points.
    - Loss Aversion is similar to what stores do to the consumer all of the time. Standard practice.
    - And finally, social depends on how you're using the results. If to see if your potential date is a serial killer, than it's fine. If you're looking for bikini shots for spank material, not so much.

    • Dave P
      July 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      I respectfully disagree.

      If you're doing this because you know it's a life hack that works, then it's unethical. If you stumble upon without premeditating it happening then it's perfectly legit.

      Wikipedia sources are unethical purely because it's a shortcut to doing the proper research.

      Just because something is standard practice doesn't make it right. Shops are well known for employing unethical strategies.

      Well, the point is that person you're looking to date has given as much information up as they felt comfortable doing. By using Google image search to find their social networking profiles you're basically finding out things they don't want to divulge quite yet.

    • Av
      July 6, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Dave P

      What the heck is "proper research" anyway? Index cards in the library?

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      @AV Not necessarily, but at least finding the sources online for yourself. Remember, using Wikipedia means everybody is using the same resources.

  8. James Bruce
    July 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Whoa, putting things in your basket and waiting for the coupon is totally ethical - how dare you include it on this list!?

    Seriously, I do it all the time... Works most places except Amazon ;)

    • Guy M
      July 6, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Got to agree with James. If it's part of their marketing strategy, then how can it be unethical? Personally, I've never intentionally done this. But it's an interesting idea.

    • Dave P
      July 6, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      I included it because it works. It's not part of a marketing strategy though, it's you saying, "I want to buy this but I'm going to hold off until you discount the price." If you're intentionally doing this on a regular basis then it's still unethical. You wouldn't walk around a bricks-and-mortar store adding things to a basket, then leave it by the counter and walk out of the shop until they come running after you with a money off voucher, would you?

    • James Bruce
      July 6, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      I totally would if shops gave coupons for doing that!

      But I'd also download a car if I could.

    • Ms Hanson
      July 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      "But then I'd download a car if I could" absolutely describes my aversion to negotiating, discounting, dickering, bargaining, etc. Shopping is not a sport IMO. NO garage sales for me. I find something that works, buy a years' worth (or more) and go home. If it can be delivered, so much the better. I know I'm not alone because Costco is doing a brisk biz in the quantity game.

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      @james I bet you've tried downloading a car too. You never know, with 3D printers growing in popularity!

      @guy The thing for me is doing this intentionally in order to get money off. That's where the ethics come into play. Companies don't expect people to do that, they're just trying to encourage you to make a purchase, and probably losing most of their cut in order to do so.

    • James Bruce
      July 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Whoa - "losing most of their cut"? You realize retail markup is often in the region of 700-1500%, right?

  9. Dann A
    July 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    While I agree that a number of these shouldn't be tried at home, I think some of them are totally fine. Like the loss aversion one; that's just good marketing that plays into common heuristics. The CV one is really interesting too, and it just makes sense to check Wikipedia to get started on sources. And the distressed hipsters one is genius. :-)

    • Dave P
      July 11, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      I'll be honest, I purposely chose ones that weren't illegal or too unethical. But click through to the website and you'll see some border on being absolutely immoral.

    • Dann A
      July 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Okay, I see what you mean. There are some seriously questionable ideas on that site. :-)