All Hat, No Cattle
First off: Hi back at you, Monty!
Now, to the matter at hand - what makes a company a "white hat" vs. a "black hat" in the minds of the alt.space community?
I don't pretend to speak for anyone other than myself, but i will make a few observations on the matter, which you may agree or disagree with.
White hat companies seem to fall into two categories in the alt.space community: true seed-stage startups funded by believers in their particular cause (space solar power, RLV, space elevators, etc), and "startups" being driven by well-heeled investors that are tackling a specific segment of the market (SpaceX, Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites, Bigelow, etc).
Black hat companies, also referred to at various times as the Military/Industrial Complex, Big Aerospace, or just Satan, are large established aerospace companies (Boeing, LockMart, NG, etc) which are considered behemoths, ossified, in the way, and generally the primary reason why the White Hats aren't successful - that if they would simply get out of the way, not take all of the government funding, etc., the White Hats would prove and develop a robust private sector commercial space economy for the masses.
Apparently, you can go from being a White Hat to a Black Hat in a not-very-easy-to-understand process, as Orbital Sciences has done. I've yet to hear of a Black Hat becoming a White Hat, though. Anyone?
And yet, i have to wonder: it seems as if the underlying prerequisite for becoming a "black hat" is that you are either (a) large, established, and not living off credit cards in your mom's basement, or (b) not backed by a rock-star dot Com bazzilllionaire, or (c) surviving primarily on government largesse (read: contracts).
So here's the question for those following along: how many of the White Hats are either currently the recipient of government funding or loan guarantees of some sort? How many White Hats (and WHSs - white hat supporters) are lobbying for more government money to flow in the direction of the alt.spacers?