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Catchphrases and concepts that spread from person to person are known as memes, which, courtesy the Internet, can now explode across the Earth like a highly contagious virus (hence "going viral"). As with their real-life counterparts, some infectious diseases are global (pandemic), while others are endemic to specific regions.

Stack Overflow, and now even more predominantly Meta Stack Overflow, have seen more than their fair share of these pathological social constructs spread through the user base. They are now ingrained units of our collective culture as SOpedians (a term which I hate, by the way).

Just as travelers' immune systems can be assaulted by new diseases in new places, new users are increasingly likely to be miffed by an ingrained meme and left sitting scratching their heads. I therefore propose that this space be used to document the memes endemic to Stack Exchange's culture.

Each meme should be listed separately and I hope that we as a community will be able to provide greater context to each one.

Please actually explain each meme in a way understandable to those not already in the know.

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On other Stack Exchange sites

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Wasn't sure whether to add Joda Time (as the default answer for any Java date/time question). I don't think it really counts as a meme though... –  Jon Skeet Sep 1 '09 at 20:22
faq? I'd call this just an aq –  John the Seagull Sep 1 '09 at 22:32
Meh. People ask this stuff? It's merely a q. –  Shog9 Sep 2 '09 at 3:13
You hate "SOpedians"??? I'm going to kill a pony in revenge. –  Stu Thompson Sep 2 '09 at 15:44
@Shog9: The a in aq stands for "answered", not "asked" :-) –  John the Seagull Sep 5 '09 at 15:06
Does, the "jump the shark" qualify? What is it all about? –  OscarRyz Sep 11 '09 at 19:02
@Oscar Reyes - "Jump the shark" is a phrase inspired by a popular TV show (Happy Days) when it's main character (Fonzie) was skiing towards a fishy death, only to evade it at the last minute via upwards aerial propulsion. It is used to describe a deus ex machina in a story that seems unrealistic, as if the writer had written him- or herself into a corner and couldn't come up with any feasible way to save the hero. It means the show is out of good ideas and is past its prime, and must use gimmicks (like aquatic carnivore leaping) to draw in audiences. The principle can easily be generalized. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Oct 1 '09 at 5:45
Please note: "Jump the shark" has specific meaning in the Jeff/Joel context: see here: codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000679.html –  Benjol Oct 29 '09 at 11:05
What (TF) is "Cultural Height"? 6 ft 2 inches??? –  user135186 Dec 12 '09 at 5:26
This question belongs on Meta-Meta –  JoelFan Feb 25 '11 at 18:33
This whole page has me laughing out loud. –  Maxpm Jun 29 '11 at 5:07
Meme? a meme is a funny joke with stick figures and funny faces..... curse you wikipedia. –  Gabe Dec 12 '11 at 18:17
I don't understand mulching. Can someone please define it? –  Andy Thomas Dec 12 '11 at 18:25
You should totally drop those memes and try jQuery. –  Alex Coplan Dec 14 '11 at 10:17

55 Answers 55

Meme: Greasemonkey

Originator: Jonathan Sampson

Cultural Height: First month of Meta Stack Overflow's existence.

Background: Greasemonkey originated as an offshoot of the Stack Overflow jQuery meme. This is due to the high frequency of requests by users for certain types of functionality for the Stack Overflow family of websites, many of which were easily solved using custom Greasemonkey scripts. Before long nearly every feature request could be seen as solvable through some type of Greasemonkey script (whether for real or just in the imagination of a commenter).

See Also: jQuery (Stack Overflow predecessor)

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Meme: Link or it didn't happen

Origin: Paraphrase of Pics or it didn't happen

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: Used in response to a user claiming an event (usually offensive to that user) inside S[OFU] or meta, without actually providing a link to the question or answer for the rest to see it really happened, or to judge if it was just a misunderstanding.

See Example question (as of this writing, there is no link to proof of the claims, but you may need to see the edit history to see the first, original revision)

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Meme: Calvin and Hobbes-rolling

Originator: Pekka, Collaborator: Tim Manishearth

Cultural Height:

enter image description here

Background: In an effort to make it more fun for users who try and get around the question-asking ban on Stack Overflow by asking their wildly off-topic questions on Meta, it's now possible to get a customized "Calvin and Hobbes" answer, free of charge.

It aims to replace the "we get a hundred off-topic programming posts a day AAARGH!" complaint of MSO users with "Sweet! A hundred comic strips a day!"

There's now a script that aids C&H-rollers in their nefarious deeds.

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Special bonus: lengthy suspensions for the hapless question-askers. –  Robert Harvey Jun 6 '12 at 6:21
On a serious note: doesn't this somehow tell oblivious folks that it's okay to post unrelated "answers"? –  Arjan Jun 10 '12 at 8:43
Of course, with the description above all is clear, @Robert. But when posted as "This is an interesting question, to which I don't know the answer, but I have this comic" things might not be that clear at all, I feel. Keep in mind the OP didn't even understand they were posting off topic to start with. I'm afraid they won't see the sarcasm in such response either. (But then indeed: I also don't know if that makes things worse.) –  Arjan Jun 10 '12 at 16:30
@Arjan: I'd guess the 2/3 of all misguided posters are question banned on SO and will stop collaborating anyway (if it can be called that). The other 1/3 just missed the "Ask Question" button, landed on Meta, failed to recognize the different theme, did not notice the obscure must-have-tags which no other question on SO has and completely ignored any other hint that they are wrong...possibility that those become 'valuable' collaborators is...well...not so hot either. ... But you can show me examples to proof me wrong, please! –  Time Traveling Bobby Jun 18 '12 at 8:31
@Arjan: I've gotten one response from a cartoon. It was: "Ah, yeah, you're right, posted in the wrong place. Sorry about that." Most of these folks are question-banned on SO; they know very well what they are doing. They want us to migrate their off-topic question to Stack Overflow. –  Robert Harvey Jun 18 '12 at 14:48

Meme: Always Friday in Iceland

Originator: Ólafur Waage (?)

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: While programmers enjoy Friday Afternoons they've also been known to do things other than work during the week. So Shog9 created the tag, because we all know those Icelanders are always making jokes.

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Cf. Friday afternoon –  mmyers Jun 23 '10 at 18:18
@MatrixFrog Please do not abuse the <kbd> tag - kbd abuse, as Meta users should well know, is punishable by castle banishment. –  Yi Jiang Dec 22 '10 at 8:43
What, you guys don't have an always-friday-in-iceland key on your keyboards? –  intuited Apr 12 '11 at 4:07

Meme: A Stack Overflow Carol

Originator: Tim Post

Cultural Height: Christmas

About: One day near Christmas 2011, Tim Post decided to change his name to Tiny Tim, a character from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. That prompted other users to change their names to other characters from the story, including...

And one character from a different Christmas story:

And yet another character from yet another Christmas story:

And from other holiday related things:

  • Shog9 - Nine Shogs Shogging

  • Kev - The AntiSanta

  • Pubby - Santa Claus

This occured again near Christmas, 2012 where the Stack Exchange moderators invited all to join in actual meta-carols, and again in 2013.

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Meme: Paddington Bear Choppertars

Originator: http://meta.serverfault.com/users/1435/chopper3

Cultural Height: SF regulars are pretty ADD - Most of us switched back to normal avatars about a week after that meta question was asked.

Background: See Paddington Bear Choppertar, it's all explained.

Seriously, how is this a Meta meme? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it garnered some attention and lots of chat discussions for the week or so we had it going on. Also it's got Paddington Freakin' Bear so you know it's cool!

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Meme: Meta effect.

Originator: Mat (?)

Mentioned: MSO comments, Sep 8 2011

Background: Increase of voting activities observed in main site posts that have been exposed at meta. Most ironic when someone complaining to Meta about "unfair downvotes" on another site gets more downvotes. Also seen: closing, re-opening, deleting etc. Often the opposite of the desired result for the user who came to Meta about the specific question.

Cultural height: Low (seen infrequently in MSO comments).

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Meme: Parsing HTML with RegEx

Originator: Bobince

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: This meme began as bobince has unofficially become the Assistant Don't Parse HTML With Regex Officer. He has described the terrible maw of horrors that will uproar if HTML is ever parsed with RegEx, such as in this post.

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Meme: name change to "Tim something".

Originator: Tim Post (?)

Mentioned: Tavern, May 14 2012

Background: Extraordinary ping-ability of the name @Tim.

Three Tims for the Elven-devs in the Tavern,
Seven for the Moderation-overlords in their halls of 01100010011010010111010001110011,
Nine for New Users doomed to downvotes,
One for the Jeff Atwood on his dark throne
In the Land of Horror where the Coding lies.
One Tim to rule them all, One Tim to find them,
One Tim to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Horror where the Coders lie.

- Anonymous

Cultural height: TBD.

Usage specifics: Put a space after Tim in order to get notifications when pinged @Tim.

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I'd say the originator was Tim Post. –  Cody Gray May 14 '12 at 22:29
I am unfortunately to blame for that. Not my finest idea by any stretch. –  Tim Post Nov 16 '12 at 9:05
Like this? Tim Burr! –  einsteinsci Jan 14 '14 at 6:14

Meme: GIF of fox jumping in the snow

Originator: TGMCians, in chat

Cultural height: TBD

Background: TGMCians posted the animated GIF of the fox jumping in the snow in chat, and later, the image was posted several times and some people even added it to the "about me" on their profile. The fox GIF looks like this:


The fox is actually catching a mouse buried beneath the snow.

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Meme: Caching (“caching, it's always caching”)

Originator: Jonathan Sampson (here)

Cultural height: just now

Background: Many "s" turn out to be a caching issue (client-side, or server-side, or in between) resolving itself later due to a cache refresh. Currently there are over 750 comments on Meta mentioning caching.

Taken to new heights while troubleshooting OAuth:

Too bad I couldn't clear the cache on my high school dancing... probably why my senior prom silently failed. Never saw my date or my wallet again.

Derived meme: “localization, it's always localization”, which appeared during the preparation work for Stack Overflow in Portuguese. And sometimes it's localization caching!

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I cannot believe this was never here until now. –  psubsee2003 Feb 16 '14 at 17:39
@psubsee2003 Are you sure you weren't looking at a cached version? ;) –  Travis J Feb 16 '14 at 18:12
@juergen why the rollback? Care to explain what was wrong in the edit? –  Shadow Wizard Mar 9 '14 at 12:17
@ShadowWizard: I just liked my revision more. –  juergen d Mar 9 '14 at 13:42

Meme: Bart

Originator: Bart, in chat

Cultural Height: The usage of the iconic glasses as profile images by multiple users.

Background: Bart, his glasses, his smiting stick and his stars are legendary in the Tavern on the Meta, as evident from the topic of the room "MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF STARS!"

Usage: If Bart posts a message, ★ it!

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Glasses @TGMCians. Glasses ... –  Bart Nov 20 '14 at 14:19
It could only be done by a nemesis @ShadowWizard. –  Infinite Recursion Nov 20 '14 at 15:02
a memesis? facepalms himself –  Vogel612's Shadow Nov 20 '14 at 15:49
Yay @InfiniteRecursion. Well deserved. –  Bart Dec 13 '14 at 18:13

Meme: Linking to Welbog

Origin: jjnguy / Shog9 / mmyers

Cultural Height: Linking to Welbog never goes out of style, but technically late July, 2009

Background: Started by jjnguy with this answer, as a genuine recognition of Welbog's brilliance. It was made into a meme by mmyers and Shog9 minutes later here and here.

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Pesto...I did it first just for the record...check the edit history. –  jjnguy Sep 1 '09 at 21:12
jjnguy: Don't just sit there fabricating lies to make yourself seem important; edit the answer to add those lies. Jerk. –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Sep 1 '09 at 21:18
Fixed –  jjnguy Sep 1 '09 at 21:25
I have to upvote this answer because my name is mentioned. Also, see here for another good link. –  mmyers Sep 8 '09 at 15:20

Meme: "Updating the Changing name Meme Answer"

Originator: Brad Gilbert

First Heard: Answer posted at Oct 19 at 23:28. First written acknowledgment of meme status was 2009-11-28.

Cultural Height: 2009-11-28, when it was crushed down by a locking.

Background: Answer to The Many Memes of Meta question, it had become custom to keep it updated whenever a user changed his/her/its name.

Controversy: Thanks to a big effort of the community, the answer was kept updated regularly, being edited sometimes several times in a single day. This ongoing edition of that particular answer, kept bumping The Many Memes of Meta question to the front page, something that started to bother some users. In an attempt to stop the ongoing edition, moderator Kyle Cronin ♦ decided to lock the answer in question, sparking some controversy. Most moderators and half users, including Jeff Atwood ♦, supported the decision at the time.

To be updated daily for the next 30 days.

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If this is updated daily, I will pillage your village !! –  Ólafur Waage Nov 28 '09 at 17:42
Some legal advice: to sidestep the pillaging, update it hourly. –  alex Nov 28 '09 at 18:35

Meme: Brown

Originator: jadarnel27, in chat (more)

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: Brown. It's the answer to everything. Because brown.

Usage: Brown.

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#663300​​​​​​ –  Lix Dec 2 '13 at 23:47
6ff47afa5dc7daa42cc705a03fca8a9b –  Oded Dec 3 '13 at 10:46

Meme: Continuous outbursts of excessive analogies and profane demonstrations

Originator: Welbog

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: The background on this meme started with his profile, which describes him to the core: http://stackoverflow.com/users/52443/welbog

Example: see below...

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I'm going to come to your house and grate all of your cheese, increasing its surface area and promoting mould propagation! Ahaha! Your family will visit you for your famous cheese soufflé but will discover a green and blue soufflé instead of a more naturally coloured one such as yellow or orange! The rumours will spread about how unsanitarily you keep your living arrangements. People will think that you don't bathe and that your dog has fleas. And your cat has fleas! And your pony has fleas!! You will never live this down, and you'll be forced to move to east Virginia where no one looks. –  XMLbog Sep 1 '09 at 22:39
But back to my main point: your grated cheese will still have more surface area than normal cheese, even though you spent several hours painstakingly braiding it. You remember that string cheese that used to be popular when we were kids? Does that still exist anymore? I hated that stuff, but it was neat so I still wanted it. Luckily my parents were smart and never bought it for me. That stuff is bound to be loaded with unnatural things like pony claws and dog fleas and stuff. Anyway, while you're in east Virginia can you pick me up a copy of the Alexandria Gazette Packet? I want one. –  XMLbog Sep 1 '09 at 22:46
@Welbog I love dachshunds! My wife and I have 2. –  Jared Harley Sep 2 '09 at 4:04
Welbog always delivers. –  Troggy Sep 2 '09 at 20:25
De-livers? Sounds scary... –  Piskvor Sep 6 '10 at 12:54

Meme: SO Mafia

Originator: Unknown

Cultural Height: Throughout 2009

Background: Originally known as the TDWTF Mafia, the SO Mafia is a group of users led by HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED who hang around on IRC (#somafia on slashnet) deciding which users get to live or die. They quiet the voices by down-voting and closing anything they don't like, and editing everything else to bring it up to their "standards".

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It should be pointed out this is not a meme, but whatever. There was a meme based on it a while ago. "It is a mafia not a cabal damn it!". –  GEOCHET Sep 1 '09 at 21:16
We are not a meme, we AN HERO. –  GEOCHET Sep 1 '09 at 21:21
@Shog9: YOU DOWN VOTED THE MAFIA?? It is all over for you man. We will edit your every post and down vote you right to hell! –  GEOCHET Sep 1 '09 at 21:36
@Jon B: Not after this incident. He's lucky not to have his status edited to "deceased". There's no rolling back from concrete shoes. –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Sep 1 '09 at 21:40
I always preferred Cabal to mafia. –  George Stocker Sep 2 '09 at 16:46
@Gortok: That is why you were not in it. It is a Mafia. –  GEOCHET Sep 2 '09 at 18:33
How is this any different from the "Popular" kids in school manipulating groupthink through word and/or deed? Add technology and a dash of meritocracy and we're back in high school. –  Kelly S. French Nov 11 '09 at 19:52

Meme: Vampire

Origin: Malfist

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: Vampire originally began as a tag on Stack Overflow when a user posted a question concerned over whether Jeff Atwood was of the blood-drinking undead. It has now been latched onto as an example of a completely nonsensical tag and is randomly inserted into the tags of equally nonsensical questions.

Further Background: Vampire was a tag that was used once upon a time. After Welbog's tragic loss of his powerful afro, he became fixated on adding this tag to any post he could to try and cope with his loss. Vampire may also refer to the coder of the night, Jeff Atwood.

See Also: A Vampire picture

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Don't forget the Jon Skeet files (yoda.arachsys.com/pics/calling) –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 5 '09 at 7:34

Meme: Meta Meta Meta....

Originator: Pollyanna

Cultural Height: March 12th, 2010

Background: It was first fully realized with Pollyanna's posting of Question Title That Doesn't Describe The Problem it has since been regarded as the goto question for when you wish to talk about talking about talking about meta.

Further Background: It has existed before this question, but the tag has not existed and it was not as widespread.

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Meme: Neckbeards

Originator: user3184074 and "my forum websites"

Cultural Height: ongoing?

First Seen: http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/215805/ (meta 10kers only)

Background: Some random guy typed up a page-long rant with copious amounts of allcaps and calling people "neckbeards," which is apparently (slang) A nerd; a dweeb., although in the context he used it nobody is entirely sure what it means.

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Meme: You insensitive clod!

Originator: sixlettervariables

First Heard: June 9, 2012

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: After a question was asked suggesting that Stack Overflow modify their logo for holidays and events, sixlettervariables suggested that an imagined response from users might be: "Omigerd you left out Important Day X you insensitive clods!"


Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

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I'm pretty sure this originated on Slashdot and just carried over. I had not read the comment cited here before inferring the same about George Edison under his answer on the same question :) –  Tim Post Jun 9 '12 at 17:23
Originally a Slashdot Meme, does that matter? :-P –  Martijn Pieters Jun 9 '12 at 17:24
Yes, this is definitely a Slashdot meme, lots of people use it quite often. @Ben - you insensitive clod! –  Tim Post Jun 9 '12 at 17:27
I thought phrases had to be used more than once to become memes. –  mmyers Jun 9 '12 at 18:30

Meme: Thanks in Advantage

Originator: Stack Overflow

Cultural Height: Unknown

Background: On Stack Overflow it had become somewhat common for a new user to place 'Thanks in advantage' in their answer in order to thank any users who answered. Besides this terrible spelling mistake, 'thanks' in posts is not allowed and as of March 2015 has been eradicated via this Meta Stack Overflow post.

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Meme: Oh! the huge Manatee!

Originator: The image already existed as a general Internet Meme, it was used first on a scared question by voyager.

First Heard: Stickers for non US residents? on Sep 17 '09.

Cultural Height: It pops up every now and then.

Background: ---

Trivia: ---.

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Meme: Welbog has no body

Originator: Welbog (note linking to welbog)

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: This meme began with Welbog's feature request for a brain interface for post humans

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I think it takes at least more than 24 hours for something to be considered a meme. –  gnostradamus Sep 10 '09 at 16:46
I'm so confused... I was given to understand that Welbog was a maple tree: meta.stackoverflow.com/posts/18113/… –  Shog9 Sep 10 '09 at 16:47
@gnovice: please save your comments for an answer documenting the "everything is a meme" meme. –  Shog9 Sep 10 '09 at 16:48
@gnostradamus It actually takes 6 to 8 weeks. –  J. Steen Feb 6 '13 at 14:17

Meme: EmoWolf

Originator: Boothby

**Cultural Height:**April 2014

Background: One type of challenge on Code Golf is called King of the Hill, which consists of writing an AI for a game specified in the challenge. Boothby submitted this entry which killed itself on the first turn.

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