Pirate is the second-lowest rank a player can have in a crew. Players are generally given the rank of pirate once they have subscribed or purchased a rank badge, but the requirements for promotion differ with each crew. Pirates have all the rights of cabin persons, but with a badge (doubloon oceans) they can also play the gunnery puzzle without an order from an officer or above. In a democratic crew, pirates may create and vote on issues.
There are limits to the kind of clothing a pirate can wear. Pirates may not wear male Feathered Hats or Captain's Hats. Crews generally assign new players the rank of pirate to gain more experience before training them to become officers. Often players who buy their own ship are given an early opportunity to start officer training, but this, again, varies with the crew.
"Pirate upon joining"
One practice that appears to be taking hold with many newer crews, and some older crews, is the automatic promotion to pirate upon joining (or in the case of subscription oceans, subscribing), with the rank of cabin person reserved for punishment. Many older crews appear to be refraining from this practice, preferring instead to have promotion requirements mirroring or exceeding the Navy's requirements for the gunnery puzzle.
Why this practice began is unknown, but it is thought to provide a good selling point when recruiting, especially since most booty share options award higher shares to pirates than cabin persons. However, the rank is nearly identical to cabin person. Players who realise this tend not to mind which of the two ranks they are assigned to.