I recently followed a link to The Overflow, which I suppose is a post from the old blog:


The post's author is:

Jeff Atwood Co-Founder (Former)

Jeff Atwood
Co-Founder (Former)

I was first of all surprised not to see the Coding Horror illustration as the author's avatar.

But even more-so at his title "Co-Founder (Former)".

I would think that a co-founder would remain a co-founder, even after they cease to work at the company.

Here are some relevant posts on English Language & Usage:

When adding the tag to this Question, the tag description text is:

Co-founder of Stack Exchange, but no longer works for SE.

  • 10
    For every person that thinks it doesn't make sense to label them as former, there is another who thinks it's ok to refer to them that way. There is no standard, and saying former is an easy and succinct way of indicating they no longer work here. Plenty of formal business news outlets do the same.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 3:28
  • 22
    @animuson I don't think any news outlet would call Bill Gates the "former co-founder of Microsoft".
    – pkamb
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 3:40
  • 1
    Your one example doesn't mean anything. There are outlets out there that refer to people as former founders.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 3:47
  • Its worth remembering that We have a little more leeway on SE tags, and its consistent with role (former) on the rest of the blog. Its also really hard to define what Jeff was on SE in the early days... Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 3:50
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek Let's try to define it. How about: Epic ?
    – rene
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 6:22
  • 14
    To me the notion of a former founder is nonsense, you either founded the company or you didn't, I don't see another option here.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:18
  • Epic is a description - not a job title. One might say he was a CEO, but he also was at various times did system administration (apparently!), Development (certainly!) Community management.... Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:19
  • 6
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:28

2 Answers 2


Following the August 2023 Stack Exchange blog redesign, the co-founder formerly known as "Co-founder (former)" now appears as:

Jeff Atwood — Co-founder — Former staff

Jeff Atwood
Former staff

His "Coding Horror" avatar is unfortunately still gone. Profile pics have not been deleted for other former employees.


It's worth remembering that the blog has been through a few iterations - Self hosted WP, Jekyll, and currently outsourced Wordpress. That probably explains the broken avatar - though I have no idea how many avatars might be broken that way.

I'm informed in the comments thay it's policy not to use the avatar of a former employee in the blog and that they all have the same anonymised avatar on the blog.

As for the title...

I suspect part of the problem is nearly everyone else on the blog who isn't with the organisation could be described by their job title. In the early days of SE - Jeff kinda was less of a person with a job title than kinda... everywhere. He was roughly the BDFL and kinda had his hands in everything. He wasn't the "Co-Founder" or the "CEO" in the early days for most folks :D

Considering Joel's officially taken a back seat as well - Referring either of them as Emeritus Co-Founder seems like a pedant1 friendly, and accurate description

1 Almost. Is it emeritus co-founder, or co-founder emeritus?

  • "Is it emeritus co-founder, or co-founder emeritus?" It seems it could be either based on context, some usage examples: grammarist.com/usage/emeritus vocabulary.com/dictionary/emeritus
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:58
  • 7
    The "broken" avatar is because it is policy not to use an avatar of a former employee on the blog. It was anonymized to the standard on purpose, and we are not willing to change that part. All former employees should have that avatar.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 13:43
  • I think "Founder Emeritus" would a good title if that title was awarded by the company. But I don't think some people arbitrarily picking that prestigious title for a blog author's byline, without the knowledge of the company or the co-founder, is the right way to go.
    – pkamb
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 18:39
  • 2
    @animuson Is that still active policy? Because I have seen different things recently. Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 9:04
  • @animuson Other former employees still seem to have blog profile pictures: stackoverflow.blog/2019/07/18/…
    – pkamb
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 22:12
  • @pkamb it's taking them 6-8 years to anonymize the avatar when employee is leaving. ;) Commented Aug 21, 2022 at 7:44

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