On top of an answer describing a meme about pluralization bugs, there was a deprecation notice posted (from August 2018):

This meme is officially deprecated.

Please do not use this meme. It remains here while links to it are still quite 'out in the wild' as a reference to inform folks that they shouldn't be using it, and should be flagging comments linking to it for removal.

While at the time it was seen as light-hearted fun, that context (and Jeff) are long gone; the use of this is just confusing and definitely not in line with our Code of Conduct.

While I can understand the rationale of prohibiting jokes about violence, I want to clarify whether the prohibition of the meme solely covers jokes about violence, or also jokes about pluralization bugs in the Stack Exchange software. For example, is the prohibition intended to cover comments like

We've seen this pluralization bug occur one times this week in the chat software


At least this [obviously incorrect] stack exchange software message has correct pluralization!


2 Answers 2


Here's an interesting story:

While living in The Philippines, I was helping a friend set up a small business network based entirely on Ubuntu. My friend wanted to avoid any possible interactions with the anti-piracy leg of the government (who was cracking down on companies using cracked software in response to pressure coming from the US and other countries).

We got LDAP and cluster LVM going nicely, everyone's /home directory follows them around wherever they log in, OpenVPN was working (a major accomplishment at the time!!!) and everything was going well. Until DDoS attacks were tracked back to coming from the office and all the public IP addresses were null routed.

Turns out, employees wanted to use work bandwidth / internet for things that they only had Windows applications to do (none of it work related) and were booting off USB keys and utilizing a small part of the local drives to host a totally p0wned copy of XP/2K.

That took a lot of time to clean up. After finally getting things back to normal, locking down BIOS settings and other stuff that dragged on well past 2:30 in the morning, I remarked that things were okay to use but PLEASE don't install alternate OS's. I let people know that we could work with them to install additional applications if there wasn't a security risk, and joked that I'd be back with a Nerf gun if we had a repeat of what happened.

Not everyone knew what a Nerf gun was.

In fact, a few people thought I was making a real threat, and went as far as to call the police and have a complaint registered in the blotter (basically the same as getting a report written even if no action was taken). In my early morning attempt at humor, I made at least a few people uncomfortable, and insult to injury came when the police laughed.

The value of that joke was all mine to get, I wanted the satisfaction of making people laugh and feel light-hearted. I accomplished that to some extent, but the opposite of that completely made me regret ever doing it.

I'm sure Jeff didn't envision anyone taking that tweet literally, but if you've just experienced the hornet's nest effect of people downvoting your bug report and leaving snide and cryptic comments .. well, it's not a great meme to bring into 2020.

That doesn't mean people have to feel bad about once linking it, or any of that - it just means that we take stock of the culture we present and occasionally look at where we might want to grow. And then we grow.

Alluding to violence doesn't need to be something folks associate with who we are collectively, so let's let that meme just be part of the past.

  • 11
    You were lucky -- the police could also not have known what a Nerf gun is. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 14:41
  • 22
    I don't know what to think. Those people were wrong in assuming that you would actually harm them. So, instead of simply, kindly, correcting the people who are wrong, let's wipe any fun, because it's simpler? So now, because of a few people who are wrong, the world isn't funny anymore. You may think I'm overexaggerating, but I really see this as a general trend. That is sad.
    – dim
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:34
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    @dim, to be fair, I don't think it's because it's "simpler". As you say, there is a current trend for people to leave common sense at the door and get offended (possibly to the point of litigation) by casual things we all took for granted before (especially in SE's home country). Clearly SE doesn't need such a situation to come and bite them in the rear right now... Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:44
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    @dim There were folks that spoke nothing but disparaging things about us lazy Gen-X kids that just "played with computers all day" while talking about really awful pranks they'd played in locker rooms, which, at the time, probably seemed pretty harmless and funny to them. I just want to point out that this happens naturally as generations churn, and, well, we're at that point.
    – user50049
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 16:04
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    Are jokes that involve pluralisation that don’t involve violence allowed? Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37

Threatening grevious bodily harm... isn't funny to quite a few people.

It is, however, entirely fair to, for example, threaten to mail very small ses on request for the cost of shipping (though I have no idea what to do if someone said "Sure!")

Considering pluralisation bugs do actually get fixed a lot of the time, while minor and sometimes annoying, its not exactly someone you should get yelled at for filing a bug about, or good naturedly and harmlessly ribbing folks about it.

Just no weaponised giant letters.

  • If the "s"s have the SE logo, some people will definitely pay good money for that
    – muru
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 3:47
  • 4
    This is certainly the common sense answer. Is it also the official SE policy? As in, do you know staff approve of this answer, or is it just a sensible policy which is what you intend to use when moderating your sites? Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 17:15
  • Well. I moderate this site too. So I guess it's common sense MSE mod policy? And no. I speak for myself but it seems in line with what is publicly stated policy other than the little stick on S's. If you want an official answer, Tim has one. Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:23

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