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 Exchange, 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 in a separate answer 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. Especially considering that a lot of these memes aren't really understandable to newer users who weren't around in the early years of the network, or are based on system features that no longer exist.

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  • 52
    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
  • 152
    faq? I'd call this just an aq – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 1 '09 at 22:32
  • 88
    Meh. People ask this stuff? It's merely a q. – Shog9 Sep 2 '09 at 3:13
  • 32
    You hate "SOpedians"??? I'm going to kill a pony in revenge. – Stu Thompson Sep 2 '09 at 15:44
  • 31
    @Shog9: The a in aq stands for "answered", not "asked" :-) – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 5 '09 at 15:06
  • 6
    Does, the "jump the shark" qualify? What is it all about? – OscarRyz Sep 11 '09 at 19:02
  • 41
    @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
  • 24
    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
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    What (TF) is "Cultural Height"? 6 ft 2 inches??? – user135186 Dec 12 '09 at 5:26
  • 11
    @all: I think we should definitely vote up and down these answers, so that everything is in alphabetical order. It's horrible to find something. – Marcel Korpel Aug 3 '10 at 19:44
  • 96
    This question belongs on Meta-Meta – JoelFan Feb 25 '11 at 18:33
  • 11
    This whole page has me laughing out loud. – Maxpm Jun 29 '11 at 5:07
  • 6
    Meme? a meme is a funny joke with stick figures and funny faces..... curse you wikipedia. – Gabriel Dec 12 '11 at 18:17
  • 3
    I don't understand mulching. Can someone please define it? – Andy Thomas Dec 12 '11 at 18:25
  • 136
    You should totally drop those memes and try jQuery. – Alex Coplan Dec 14 '11 at 10:17

74 Answers 74

1 2

Meme: Profit

Originator: South Park

First Used At Stack Exchange: Oct 9 '08

Cultural Height: TBD

Background: Used in various meta posts often in conjunction with "fun", whatever that is. Often used to add levity to an otherwise dull post (similar to Burninate requests being "witty").

This meme comes directly from South Park‘s season 2, episode 17 (30th in total) which aired on December 16th, 1998. In this particular episode, the children’s underwear are being stolen from them by gnomes for the purpose of “profit.”
The process, as explained by thee gnomes goes something like this.
Step 1. Collect underpants.
Step 2. ?
Step 3. PROFIT



Meme: Z̭͙̳ͮ̐̂̆̍̒̚͢a͇̬̯̮̱̮̮͆ͯͣ͋ͬ̚l͒̂g͖͙̲̭͋ͫ̓́̚o͊́͏͉̫̮̬͍ͅ ̣̟̯͚͕͓̍ͯ͐ͬ̃͑t͇̤͈͓̺͎̍͗̄̂͂ͮ̑e̺̗͎̘̋̄̐̉͒x͈t̟̮͓͚̟̘̃ͮ̀͠

Originator: Unknown, possibly bobince

Cultural Height: Taller than this.ͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦͦ

Background: Zalgo text wasn't widely known on Stack Overflow before bobince got tired answering all the RegEx with HTML questions. There are also other references to the Zalgo text like How does Zalgo text work? and Zalgo in user names and effects on comments rendering.


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

  • sorry, but it was sixlettervariables in the comments who Tim was quoting. – ben is uǝq backwards Jun 9 '12 at 17:21
  • 7
    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
  • 2
    Originally a Slashdot Meme, does that matter? :-P – Martijn Pieters Jun 9 '12 at 17:24
  • 9
    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
  • Hey! No C&H-rolling the meta meme post! meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19478/the-many-memes-of-meta/… – Manishearth Jun 9 '12 at 17:45
  • 4
    I thought phrases had to be used more than once to become memes. – mmyers Jun 9 '12 at 18:30

Même: His Madnificents! (alternate versions include Madnifiscents, Madnifisense, etc.)

Originator: Ghanima

Background: It started when @Aurora0001 was automatically added as room owner of the IoT main chat room. He started out his career saying,

Say hello to your benevolent dictator of Internet of Things chat!

Ghanima replied right away (tm):

All hail to Aurora, first of his name, protector of the realm.

His message received exactly two stars, and from there it simply escalated, to the point where Ghanima posted,

@Aurora0001 Praised be thee, oh Madnificence!

By some odd chance, the message failed to be starred, but the title has stuck. Only anonymous2's and Helmar's mod hammers (🔨) can keep him in check.

  • 2
    It's right away (tm) not immediately ;) coming to think of it right away should be a meme in its own right. Post it right away! – Ghanima Mar 21 '17 at 19:24
  • @Ghanima, you are right! I've edited in the correction. – anonymous2 Mar 21 '17 at 22:18

Meme: Roomba

Origin: Antiquity (or 2002, if irobot.com is to be believed)

Cultural Height: Fears of premature deletion in March 2013 (this and this). Still discussed regularly on meta. A comment on this question by Sebastian Simon prompted this entry.

Background: A Roomba is an automatic robotic vacuum cleaner for cleaning floors. The Stack Exchange auto-deletion script automatically deletes inactive posts that meet certain criteria and has thus become known as the Roomba. The implication is that sometimes users will find posts have been deleted while they have been away, much like a Roomba might clean a house.


Meme: Iterative shrug evolution

Originator: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Cultural Height: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Background: The shrug character requires additional care to be properly printed in a post, by escaping the backslash representing the right arm and escaping one of the underscores to prevent italics in posts already edited after the migration to CommonMark. This has led to multiple variations of the Unicode figure found on Stack Overflow posts.

  • No escaping, missing right arm: ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 1
  • Unicode full width spacing underscore to avoid style rules: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 1
  • Shrunken arms and tilted head, more uncommon: ¯\(ツ)1
  • Surrounded by a code box, so that no escaping is required: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Beefy left arm, excessive number of slashes ¯\_(ツ)_//¯
  • The final form, sometimes after correcting edits: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

More recently, multiple edits were required, hence the iterative evolution.

As stated in deleted comments, full consistency in the shrug character is deemed important by some, and a new perspective for others.

  • [...] please do something about that shrug. Poor guy is missing an arm.
  • Thanks. So much better now. That hand flailing on the air was unnerving.
  • I don't know, it kinda reminded me of Rayman.
  • And know the little fella has two arms, and it's not inside a dark space. [...] There is hope for us still.
  • 6
    ¯\_( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)_/¯ – user400654 Oct 29 '20 at 18:35

Meme: Boom

Originator: That Evil Chatroom that Organises Votes (aka, the SOCVR Chat)

Cultural Height: Early 2015-Mid 2016(ish?)

Background: Boom (or 'Booming') originated from the SOCVR chat-room, as a reply to someone requesting the closure of a question (primarily by using "cv-pls" [or "cv-plz", for the weak-minded]), that the question is now closed (or dealt with).

  • 2
    I'm sure this is something we stole from Tavern on the Meta chat room. – gunr2171 Oct 16 '15 at 15:14
  • 3
    @gunr2171 And of course is now banned! – DavidG Dec 13 '15 at 14:17
  • @DavidG because we can't have nice thingz ... – rene Jul 24 '17 at 18:59
  • 1
    @rene 18 months to reply, nice! – DavidG Jul 24 '17 at 19:12
  • Also edited 'cultural height' as this was banned like, what, two years ago now? ;-). – AStopher Jul 24 '17 at 21:13

Meme: Wizards

Originators: Shadow Wizard, Ask a Question Wizard

Cultural height: As tall as the wizardry tower goes

Background: Shadow Wizard is one of the most prolific users here on Meta. While their name previously didn't hold that much significance, after another prolific Meta user, Sonic, also adopted the word "Wizard" as part of their username (per their normal cycle of changing usernames), there began a trend where many other active Meta users adopted it as part of their usernames.

After the Ask a Question Wizard rolled out on Stack Overflow, more Meta users also adopted the word "Wizard" into their usernames.


  • 6
    True Wizardry! :-D – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Mar 20 '19 at 7:19
  • 1
    Seems like this was previously positively received, but started receiving a lot of downvotes after my recent edit. Should I roll it back? – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 24 '19 at 10:01
  • 2
    Downvotes are likely by people not aware of the game Normal Human and Andrew play for years, and don't understand the last two are actual users. I'd say leave it be. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Mar 24 '19 at 10:12
  • 3
    I liked this meme because it gave me an excuse to draw SE and SO as wizards :) – Eleeza the Character Wizard Apr 11 '19 at 15:46
  • 1
    Characters have entered the chat. – Eleeza the Character Wizard Jan 1 '20 at 0:25

Meme: Neckbeards

Originator: user3184074 and "my forum websites"

Cultural Height: ongoing?

First Seen: https://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.


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: ---.


Meme: !!/blame

Originator: Undo (this commit)

Cultural Height: Every time this command is being issued in Charcoal HQ or Tavern on the Meta or another chat room

Background: SmokeDetector is a community-made chat bot that monitors new posts on the Stack Exchange network and filter out spams. It has a lot of commands that people can issue, among which are ones for joking or entertainment purposes, and !!/blame is one of the most popular joke commands. Whenever someone issues this command in a chat room that Smokey resides in, it will respond with

It's [someone]'s fault.

where [someone] will be a randomly chosen user that happens to be in the room at the moment (this includes SmokeDetector itself). It has since been a popular entertainment, and people star Smokey's response when it happens to blame an interesting user.

Usage: Drop into Charcoal HQ or Tavern on the Meta and post a message of !!/blame, then watch SmokeDetector's response.


Meme: StackExchange™ Buggy Features™

Originator: Unknown, possibly badp

Cultural Height: Every time a StackExchange™ "Feature" Report™ comes up

Background: Starting with Stack Exchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™, there has been a culture of naming Wacky Features™ of Stack Exchange (i.e. design bugs) as trademarks. Examples:

A variation of this meme is to use the name ".... Overflow™" (referring to Stack Overflow):


Related: Stack Exchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™

  • 3
    According to Oxford Dictionaries, a meme is: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation. // a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. Randomly tagging a TM on a title doesn't make it a meme. – Mari-Lou A Oct 5 '19 at 22:11

Meme: gjlhglhfh

Originator: Unknown

Cultural height: TBD

Background: Whenever somebody suggests making comments mandatory with downvotes, a common argument against it is that people will just comment “gjlhglhfh” or some other random combination of characters to explain their downvote.


Meme: grabs/gets popcorn

Originator: Unknown

First Seen: December 3rd, 2010

Cultural Height: As long as there is drama somewhere

Background: Chat meme. Whenever a drama is about to begin, or is ongoing, anyone can grab some popcorn and watch the drama folding before their eyes.

  • 11
    Is this Stack Exchange specific? – Rand al'Thor Mar 3 '19 at 9:50
  • @Randal'Thor Stack Exchange chat is the only place I've seen it used, so can't really know for sure. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Mar 3 '19 at 10:20
  • 2
    @Randal'Thor "Added 4 years ago"... the SE chat usage predates that. Who said it didn't spark the meme elsewhere? Anyway.... even if non-SE meme that is often used in SE, think it might fit here. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Mar 3 '19 at 10:48
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    @ShadowWizard, grabbing popcorn to watch the drama long pre-dates Stack Exchange. I saw it as a sight gag in a webcomic about 20 years ago, and it was an old idea even then. – Mark Mar 4 '19 at 23:14
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