Inspired by this Meta post:

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.

It seems natural1 to collectively create a compendium of the concepts and ideas one may encounter through the site's posts, comments or chat.

These ideas not only reflect the good-hearted spirit of the community but also may summarize or abbreviate common knowledge gathered with time and that may help the reader to effectively and efficiently navigate the workplace.

Please include only one per answer, and explain it in a way understandable to those unfamiliar with it.

I hope that we all can contribute with our examples, as well as enhance, exemplify, and support the ones already shared. Please refrain from Memifying users without their approval; that's not cool.

Also remember that these posts are not the absolute truth, and should be taken more lightly than an actual answer on the main site. Remember to be respectful and to analyze these posts with your own judgment before considering its use.

1. As per all these other sites and some more.

  • 5
    While well-intentioned, this whole concept worries me. I don't want these memes to become shorthand for "This is what everyone at The Workplace thinks". The community here is too big and wide for that short of shorthand, IMHO. I can't go along with some of the proposed memes, and don't want people to think they represent my opinions. Nov 22, 2017 at 11:08
  • @JoeStrazzere then by all means don't UV those memes you don't agree with, and UV those you do, as well as post the ones you think should be here, or enhance the ones that you think need some love. The post I named "Practical Handbook for navigating the Workplace"... not "This is what everyone at TWP thinks so don't you dare say something else" ... seems that the community is growing (5+ years, your 200k, we finally have 40 top tags, 17k questions milestone, etc...), so this repository of common ideas we share is a common effort that can serve as sound reference (and fun?) for us all.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 15:43
  • 3
    I understand. But I'd hate to see The Workplace devolve into a hivemind, meme-driven, forum as some others have done. I think it's less welcoming for newcomers that way. I will indeed downvote the memes I particularly don't like. But I did want to register my opinion regarding the concept. I don't think adding memes will make us better - just more cliquey. But as has happened over the years here, the community will do whatever it wants no matter what I think. I'll learn to live with it. Nov 22, 2017 at 17:24
  • Thank you for closing the "Joe Strazzere" meme. While I'm not comfortable using myself as a meme, I don't think we should memify any one individual in a community-drive forum like The Workplace. Nov 22, 2017 at 17:26
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere no need to thank, it was not cool for me to post that one without asking you first. I think that, as long as the individual is ok, there is no problem with memifying users (see the John Skeet meme for example ... sound familiar in this context to you? ;) ). Thank you for your respectful approach to this situation. Hope you have some memes to share with us :)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 17:31
  • 2
    I do know the "John Skeet" meme now. To me, this is just a bad idea. If you need a "Magic Decoder Ring" or "The Workplace for Dummies" book to understand what the heck people are talking about, I think it makes The Workplace (and SO for that matter) a less inviting place. Personally, I don't think we should add "fun for the long-timers" at the expense of newbies. And I don't think it's too much work to spell things out in each Question, Answer, and Comment. In Chat, sure - that isn't designed to be welcoming of newbies and is only frequented by a few. I've said my peace. Nov 22, 2017 at 17:37
  • @JoeStrazzere Just to confirm Joe, you're not happy with any answer in the meme post referencing yourself? I.e. I did write one on JoeFact, but deleted it once I read these comments
    – Draken
    Nov 23, 2017 at 9:04
  • 2
    @Draken - I don't like the concept of memifying individuals on a community forum like The Workplace. I would not be happy if it were someone else and feel that I need to speak up since it's me being mentioned. Really I'm sincerely flattered, but I just don't feel it's appropriate. I enjoy trying to help people by writing answers. I don't want people to think I do it for the "points" or for the memes. Nov 23, 2017 at 12:41
  • 2
    I get that some might enjoy memes in Chat. The "rules" are kind of different there, and the visiting population is much smaller. But I don't think the idea of memes in the main forum is a good thing. I hope I'm not offending anyone here - I'm just uncomfortable with it. I've been a moderator at other forums where eventually there was active hostility between those who viewed themselves as the "in crowd" and the newcomers. I'd hate for that to happen here in The Workplace. Nov 23, 2017 at 12:49
  • Inspired by the memes posts of other sites, we made a handbook post for our site. That is too confusing. As a result, I am not sure whether to post a "best practices" kind of post, which would be appropriate for a handbook, or a joke post, which would be appropriate for memes. I am OK with doing both, but just not both in the same place. It also makes voting on the posts confusing. For now, I am going to downvote all responses which are not memes. Example: IANAL (frequently used acronym, but NOT a meme), wait at least a week (frequently mentioned in answers, but NOT a meme).
    – Masked Man
    Nov 25, 2017 at 7:56
  • Calling them "memes" in the answers (with "cultural height") is confusing. You might want to edit those. Nov 26, 2017 at 3:33
  • @MonicaCellio done, the cultural height I left unedited, as it still applies after changing the meme wors
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 26, 2017 at 3:50
  • There seems to be a lot of controversy over this post, so I've started a Meta discussion about it.
    – David K
    Nov 27, 2017 at 13:29
  • I've put this on hold at the request of the author. Nov 27, 2017 at 20:58
  • Thanks @MonicaCellio seems that we should thing this better for now.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 27, 2017 at 21:02

8 Answers 8


Concept: Getting hit by a bus

Origin: This question, which is actually based on this term

Cultural Height: Started in 2013, but a reference pops up from time to time

Background: The bus factor refers to the risk to a project or a team if someone were to get hit by a bus. In other words, the risk of having too much institutional knowledge in one person's head. Often comes up when posters are worried about causing damage to a company by quitting.


Concept: IANAL

Origin: TBD

Cultural Height: Pretty constant, often appearing in legal questions

Background: Acronym for "I Am Not A Lawyer". Used as a disclaimer that the accompanying advice should not be considered professional legal advice from a trained lawyer, usually with the implication that none of us can be held liable if you choose to follow said advice.


Concept: You should wait at least a week...

Origin: First appearance seems to be on this post, by users mcknz and GreenMat.

Cultural Height: Frequently used, specially on , , and posts.

Background: This seems to be a common phrase on several answers on the above mentioned tags.

It is usually due to many users getting anxious or nervous on the follow-up of their recruitment processes (mostly when they don't receive any news or feedback on the position), and thus wondering if they should or not write back to the company they are applying.

As most of these users consider writing back on a really short time period (few days), answerers seems to agree that one should wait at least a week before considering writing back.

This seems to be true in those situations, as most companies have long recruitment processes (which they follow religiously). Also, considering what candidate to hire takes time and paperwork to prepare.

Cases where this may not apply are those that are critical or really relevant, and those should be done as soon as possible to avoid negative consequences.


Concept: I put in 30 minutes to write an answer but... it was deleted by OP.

Origin: Unknown

Cultural Height: Once in a blue moon.

Background: Did you ever have a great answer to a question? Did you spend so much time answering that you were 100% sure that the OP and future readers would benefit? Guess what? OP deleted the question.

  • So sad.. been there. A way to overcome this is to start writing an answer on the SE app... then you can post it anytime you want even if the post was deleted :D
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 4:47
  • Happened to me at Academia... Oh wells.
    – Bluebird
    Nov 23, 2017 at 4:50

Concept: Get another job.

Origin: Since the day human civilization decided to specialize in its labor.

Cultural Height: Whenever there is a rant question.

Background: Regardless of advice and situation, an option is always to get another job. The difficulty here is that for some, another job is more difficult compared to others. A software developer in the bay area has more economic mobility than a farm worker in the central valley. The latter can't just 'get another job'.


Idea: IT/Dev workplaces are special

Origin: Common thread for a large portion of our population

Cultural Height: Ongoing

Background: Due to the large number of folks here in IT and software development, questions focusing on those domains are held to a different standard than other domains. Marginal questions that don't specify the workplace or specify a non-tech workplace are much less likely to remain open.

For effective and efficient interaction with this community if working in a tech environment specify that in the question. If not working in a tech environment triple check all closure criteria and still be prepared for closure.

Edit: As an aside and in response to comments, I don't condone or endorse this behavior in any way and do my best to correct it where I see it. As one of the few non-tech regulars on this SE I feel that this misalignment on how things work on paper versus reality is valuable information to non-tech people becoming acquainted with this community.

  • whoa didn't get this one... would you mind enlightening me about it?
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 21:58
  • 3
    @Darkcygnus It's pretty straight forward. If you say "I'm a programmer and I want to use technology ABC in the workplace because I think it's the bees knees. How do I convince my manager that it's a good idea?" your question is much less likely to be closed than if your question was "I'm an accountant and I want to use accounting tool ABC in the workplace because I think it's the bees knees. How do I convince my manager that it's a good idea?"
    – Myles
    Nov 22, 2017 at 23:56
  • I see ... so you sense a bias on the close votes that give preference to IT questions
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:03
  • 2
    @DarkCygnus Also bias to edit in my experience. For example stripping "I'm a mechanic and my boss told me that using tool ABC is no longer allowed. I was so mad I walked out and got written up. How can I recover from this?" down to "I was so mad I walked out and got written up. How can I recover from this?" is much more likely than doing the same for "I'm a programmer and my boss told me that using inheritance is no longer allowed. I was so mad I walked out and got written up. How can I recover from this?"
    – Myles
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:07
  • @DarkCygnus While it's not fun info, the idea that IT/Dev questions are held to a different standard is valuable information to non-tech folks considering becoming part of our community.
    – Myles
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:10
  • 1
    "Due to the large number of folks here in IT and software development, questions focusing on those domains are held to a different standard than other domains. " - I completely disagree. If it is happening, it shouldn't. Nov 23, 2017 at 0:56
  • 2
    We should actively work to prevent this from happening. This meme should not be used as a justification for this practice. I would suggest that you write a few lines about this, so that this meme doesn't get misused to justify treating IT workplace as special. I received similar feedback on my "Keep Calm and Vote to Close" meme, and I agree. These memes should not be seen as a justification for bad practices.
    – Masked Man
    Nov 23, 2017 at 4:18
  • @JoeStrazzere I fight the good fight on this but given the nature of our community it's an unfortunate reality. Casual users VTC, edit, and up/down vote with their interests rather than strictly comparing to community standards as written. I'm not saying this is how it should be but the whole purpose of this question is "common knowledge gathered with time and that may help the reader to effectively and efficiently navigate the workplace". As a non-tech member of this SE I feel this info completely fits the bill as information to help navigate this SE for non-tech people.
    – Myles
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:07
  • @Myles - I understand. It makes me sad that some folks feel this way. I don't think it's inevitable. I worry that memifying it could make non-tech folks feel unwelcome/less welcome. And I think this community would be worse off for that. Nov 23, 2017 at 15:30
  • @JoeStrazzere As things sit today the alternative is that non-tech folks are made to feel less welcome by being marginalized by the community. If I were coming in today dewy eyed and wet behind the ears, I'd rather know up front that there are two sets of standards in this community rather than figuring it out by experiencing it. Maybe that's just me though.
    – Myles
    Nov 23, 2017 at 21:09
  • @Myles - the real alternative is not to have a double standard or marginalize anyone. When I see it happening, I try to vote and comment accordingly. Nov 23, 2017 at 21:19
  • @JoeStrazzere That's not where we sit today. It would be lovely to have but it'd take a concerted effort within this community on an issue that wasn't being discussed before yesterday and is unlikely to be discussed again tomorrow.
    – Myles
    Nov 23, 2017 at 21:23
  • @Myles - I don't see how a meme basically saying "Unless you are in tech, this community considers you to be a second class citizen" is a good thing. We'll have to agree to disagree about that. Nov 23, 2017 at 21:28
  • @Myles If you need any support fighting the good fight anywhere, ping me in chat. As for this post, it is already well into the silly territory. It is blatanly obvious, even without your explanation, that you do not endorse this behaviour. However, people are downvoting it because the post is called "meme", or because they bury their head in sand and pretend that this doesn't happen, or even because they want this to happen, that is, they want this site to be about IT, or maybe they are just confused whether this is a "handbook" entry or a "meme" entry.
    – Masked Man
    Nov 25, 2017 at 17:07
  • @MaskedMan - I downvoted it because, in a question that seems to want to turn itself into a "handbook" or "meme list" or something similar, we should't be listing behaviors that we would like to stop, or list things we don't like about The Workplace. If someone wants to write a different Question, this might be a viable answer for it. But not here. Nov 26, 2017 at 12:55

Concept: HR is not your "friend"

Origin: TBD

Cultural Height: About once or twice a week, with some irregular peaks of activity.

Background: A frequent phrase seen in several answers and comments. Do NOT take this as 100% true always; every situation is different. The community certainly don't despise HR, as there are many cases when they are the ones to go to.

It tries to warn the reader of the latent danger of confusing Human Resources with a literal "friend", the one you can openly approach with all your problems, complains, rants, tantrums, etc., regardless what they may be.

The common knowledge seems to suggest that this is not something recommended to do in such a careless way, as HR ultimately responds to the needs of the company when the situation requires to choose sides.

It is also to be handled tactfully, as going through HR makes things more official and public most of the times. Taking minor complains, or problems that should be addressed with the ones involved to HR is a sure way of making it a bigger situation with possibly negative consequences.


  • @MaskedMan feel free to enhance the answer :) also to include relevant posts where that meme appears, the original one is a must (that's why I made this one comm wiki)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 5:26
  • ... and now, it appears that this was started by HLGEM. I will just put this "improvement" on hold until I have the time to do a more detailed investigation ... or, even better, until someone else does the investigation because procrastination is usually the right answer. ;)
    – Masked Man
    Nov 22, 2017 at 5:40
  • 1
    I learned the hard way that “HR is not your friend”. Since that I never even asked HR even for a advice.
    – user15704
    Nov 22, 2017 at 7:46
  • 1
    I personally don't like this meme at all. To me, this casts a department in a bad/adversarial light. I understand the point, and I sympathize with the individuals' personal experiences with HR. I have found poor HR departments and great HR departments/individuals over my career. I wouldn't want this site to characterize all HR like this anymore than I'd want to see all Dev or all QA characterized. Every HR rep/company is different. Please consider deleting this meme. In many contexts, it seems snarky. I don't want people to hear "The Workplace" and think "Oh, they are the ones that hate HR." Nov 22, 2017 at 11:03
  • Please consider deleting this meme for the reasons stated in my comments Nov 22, 2017 at 11:10
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere I'm having a hard time seeing it that way. Many people think of going to HR as a first step is a good thing. They don't understand that once anything is brought to HR, it becomes official, and from that point, an investigation is conducted, often to the detriment of the person who went to HR. It is also a simple statement of fact. By definition, HR is the company's friend, not yours, and they will do what is best for the company. A friend stands by you regardless, HR does not. Nov 22, 2017 at 13:49
  • @JoeStrazzere I made this a Comm Wiki so we can all enhance its definition. It seems that the other side of the story, when one could go to HR directly, may be added to complement what stated here (feel free to do so). In general, several situations (hence why a meme) involving HR in TWP and questions asked are about stuff where you should not go to HR as is, or are about things that should be handled in other ways. Hence the warning to not confuse HR with your buddy and best friend, but always remember it as a professional interaction.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 15:21
  • I understand the point. I haven't like the message in many contexts. I think it's too snarky, and makes it seem to definitive. It does not support my opinion, and I don't think it should be the default opinion at The Workplace. I will try to soften the impact with comments as needed, if this is actually used. I would prefer that it not be a standard response here. Nov 22, 2017 at 17:20
  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere I see, and I agree that it should not be the default opinion here. Snarky or not, it seems to be a real trend this one, which has its own merit and degree of truth within the meme. I also agree and support your suggestion of being vigilant to possible abuses of this (and any other catchphrases), and ask for clarification in comments if the poster just included a plain "HR is not your Friend" without giving reasons why that is true in that case. Again, it would be great if you could/want to rephrase this one a bit so it is not so biased.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 17:27
  • @DarkCygnus - "Since that I never even asked HR even for a advice." - that's exactly what I don't want to see people to take from this meme. Nov 23, 2017 at 13:11
  • @JoeStrazzere even if this were a negative meme (I edited to clarify we dont despise hr), seems this is reality in some cases, as people relate. That is what a meme is, we may not like it but seems to be a trend (one to avoid maybe?). Documenting it here enables us to have these discussions about this situation and the way we wish to handle or overcome them. Good thing this is slowly being DVted, maybe it was just a perception I had :) seems that we will still have to remind users about HR not being your mommy/buddy when they ask things where HR is not the way to go.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:58
  • @DarkCygnus - HR has it's place in a company and it's important to understand what they do and what they don't do when it is asked or when it comes up in the context of a question/answer. I worry that blithely tossing off "HR is not your friend" will lead to reactions of "Well then I won't ever consult with HR". I get that some have had bad experiences. But many of us have had good experiences too. And I've had bad experiences with some folks in Payroll, Accounting, Development, QA, etc. I would never write "Dev is not your friend" as a recurring theme. We just need to be careful here. Nov 23, 2017 at 15:06
  • @JoeStrazzere agree, we have to be careful. It's not like every time we say this meme. We should be aware of possible abuse or misuse of such. I rephrased the post several times now to make it more "neutral", please check the bold and italic part, where the main reason of the meme is explained. It is not that we despise hr by default, but people asking on TWP seem to have such confusion about the nature of HR, thus why that meme was morn (several years ago apparently). But yeah, we should be really careful with its use.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 23, 2017 at 15:19
  • One of the things that bothers me about this meme (and memes in general) is the use of terms like "we" and "common knowledge". That makes it come across as a "wisdom of the crowd" thing. This "we" may not include me. This "common knowledge" may not include me. If the community decides to adopt these memes and their use becomes frequent, I'll have to write comments to indicate my disagreement when appropriate. I'd rather not have that battle of comments. I'd rather people deal with comments/answers on an individual basis, rather than meme-based. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. Nov 23, 2017 at 15:24
  • @Joe FWIW, You Are Not Alone on this. I agree that the wording of this "standard advice" is way too harsh, and it is easy to interpret it as "HR is your enemy", especially by workplace newbies (newbies in a real workplace, not this site, I mean). Perhaps a more neutral tone would be more appropriate. I don't know what that would be though. "HR is just doing their job" or thereabout, maybe?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 23, 2017 at 17:36

Concept: Alison Green and "Ask a Manager"

Origin: Ask a Manager blog

Cultural Height: Pops up from time to time

Background: Author of a popular workplace advice column, active since 2007. The blog is often quoted in answers, as Green usually gives very sound advice and there is a large archive of topics available.

  • 1
    Should we be directing folks to another website on a recurring basis? I thought that was frowned on? Nov 22, 2017 at 17:21
  • Probably not redirecting them, I agree with that, I think one better use is to Quote that advice or read those posts to be better prepared to give sound advice to people on TWP.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Nov 22, 2017 at 17:56

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