The question Practical Concept Handbook for navigating The Workplace was posted in Meta last week. Right now it's sitting at +5/-5, and of the 14 answers given, 5 are deleted, 6 have a negative score, and the two with a positive score still have at least one downvote each.

There are many other sites that have a page like this, so it's clearly not inappropriate for the Stack Exchange format. However, this post hasn't been well received here at all. Perhaps it's because it was thrown up late one night with no prior discussion of whether we wanted it, and more importantly what the post should look like.

Do we want to have this handbook question at all? If so, what do we want it to look like? What types of "memes" should we include or exclude?

  • 3
    I think it's telling that the only positively received "memes" on the post are actually more like glossary entries. Both are generic terms that are easily searchable online though I could see setting up a tag and wiki for "bus factor". The other entries all seem rather forced to me and I'd like to think that this site is one with considerably more nuance than a meme like "HR is not your friend" would imply.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 13:50
  • 2
    "Perhaps it's because it was thrown up late one night with no prior discussion of whether we wanted it, and more importantly what the post should look like." - yup I think that was the problem. Although it was previously discussed some days before, seems it will need more though on how should it look like. Surely the meme and the handbook parts have to be separated. Although here we may be seeing some terminology abuse/confusion, as technically any concept is a meme, but the current use of the word has degenerated and used more as "internet meme" or 9gag etc. But that is a different subject.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:05
  • "it's because it was thrown up late one night with no prior discussion" Uhm, actually, no, we did have a discussion at the water cooler before the post came up. See Meme post discussion. (As you would expect from chat, it is interspersed with other topics.) However, the post turned out to be different from what was discussed. The discussion was about making a "meme" post, but the actual post turned out to be a "handbook", which led to a lot of angst and confusion, especially in posting responses and voting on them.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:10
  • @MaskedMan From a quick scan of that, it looks like you and DarkCygnus were the only two people taking part in the meme discussion. Aside from that, not everyone frequents chat, and if you aren't present at the time of discussion (1700-0500 in my timezone), you aren't likely to see that it even happened.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:28
  • 1
    @DavidK Sorry, that came out wrong. I didn't mean to contradict your point, your point is certainly valid. Two guys discussing in chat doesn't constitute much of a "community discussion". What I was trying to say was the post wasn't started on a whim, and regardless, it didn't match what was proposed in chat. A few other guys were present in the chat room at the time though, although even assuming their silence on the matter as agreement, that is still way below the threshold to establish consensis.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:39
  • @MaskedMan Agreed, thanks for the clarification.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:03
  • 1
    Here is an example from another site of a glossary (not meme collection). It's much more extensive than anything we might need (because Mi Yodeya has lots of specialized technical terms), but the approach taken there has worked well for us for quite some time, so might be worth a look. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:01
  • I asked our kind mods to put on hold the Post in question, at least until we find out the way we want to implement it in TWP. I suggest we discuss this in chat further to see what further steps we can take.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:03
  • @Lilienthal but HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND I do think that there is some nuance to that, or so many people wouldn't be interpreting it as "NEVER GO TO HR". Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:20
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    @TheSnarkKnight If there's enough nuance to it that it can be so easily misinterpreted, then maybe we shouldn't be using it so often that it has become a meme.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:46
  • 1
    No, we don't need this.
    – Neo
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 18:27
  • @DavidK if I had a penny for everything that was misinterpreted on SE, I could retire Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 20:09

4 Answers 4


Do we want a “meme” handbook?

I don't really see the point for memes.

I haven't seen one that would be useful, and I've seen many that I think would serve to discourage newcomers.

Lastly, I think "because many other sites" have one, sounds too much like "because all the other cool kids are doing it".

I've been a moderator at other (non-SE) sites that sadly ended up with an "insiders versus newbies" culture - to the site's significant detriment. To me, this appears like a step on that slippery slope.

For me, I vote NO.


Like Lilienthal, I see quite a difference between those who were positively upvoted and those who aren't.

Those which negative score are more likely a general short-liner answer to a general "problem" of some questions. Those which are positive are terms commonly expression used in answers (but that aren't used to form an answer on its own).

We are in the Workplace, as such even if we want to form a culture, I think it must be professional and in the respect of SE. "Meme" doesn't seems like professional enough for me nor does a one line answer is a good answer on SE's network.

"Glosarry" might be a bit limited : if we want to cook some handbook, that would be to group up some common problems that people have when navigating in the workplace (specially those who are new in that world).

Some samples that could give :

I have a problem with X in the workplace :

  1. Before going to your manager : did you try to discuss politely in private with that person to solve it.
  2. Does it really affect your work ? If not, you should be able to deal with it (earplug for noises ?)
  3. It affect you work and discussing with him didn't work, time to get your manager involved.
  4. Nothing work ? It might be the time to ask us.

Should I go to HR for Y ?

  1. Does it make the company you're working for liable/(suable) ? If not, it is probably not the role of HR to step in so don't bother them with that. Because HR role is to ensure that law are followed in the company in order to not be liable.

  2. It does : Have you try to solve it internally (talking to the ones causing the trouble if it doesn't work your manager) ?

  3. You did and still the problem is still there : time to go to HR, or eventually ask us how to present your problem better to your manager before escalating to HR.


  • I agree with your first half, but I don't think the handbook questions you suggest would be helpful. Things like that would be better as a canonical (maybe wiki) Q&A on the main site, not Meta. While I think those could be appropriate, they should be addressed and discussed on a case by case basis before posting them.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 20:58
  • @DavidK Agreed. I follow Walfrat's reasoning here but I wonder if there's really a need for anything like a handbook or glossary. The example Monica linked above is on a site with loads of jargon that can do with clear explanations. We more likely use industry standard terms and any obscure ones can just be linked to Wikipedia in my experience. As for a handbook I agree that the combination of canonical questions on main, perhaps coupled with better explained custom close reasons, would be a better way to accomplish it.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 22:07
  • @DavidK I wasn't very sure about my questions. I think there is a difference between what would look like a canonical question/answer and what I wrote. I listed basically the classic steps before asking us to solve a common problem. And this is where I think we have the meta/handbook part : how we would expect people to try to solve some common problems before asking us. Also would be a good memo to those who read questions and are wondering what more information they would expect from OP.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:29

Memes? We don't need no memes!

Memes? We don't need no memes!

A lot of angst and confusion over the (well-intentioned) memes-cum-handbook post resulted from the "cum". On the Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness , memes lie closer to the Silliness end, while handbook lies closer to the Seriousness end. The post tried to combine the two into one, making it difficult to figure out what kind of answer was expected.

Since the wording of the post ended up creating multiple legitimate goalposts, voting on the responses was similarly confusing. For example, take Myles' answer "IT/Dev workplaces are special", which was heavily downvoted. It is clear that the problem described there is a real one, but it got downvoted because people thought putting this in the "handbook" would somehow justify this problem, even though the post explicitly says otherwise.

As a result, I voted to close the post as unclear what you're asking (and it has since been put on hold by a moderator at the author's request). My suggestion is to now get rid of the whole post since it already carries so much baggage. If really necessary, create two new posts from scratch, but I personally see no real need for it.

I agree with Joe's answer that a memes post will create an "insider vs newbies" divide, which is undesirable. Moreover, I had a look at the memes posts of other SE sites, and I don't find them particularly interesting or useful. As an aside, I used to be a fairly regular user on Anime.SE until a few years ago, and I still don't find their memes interesting.

The handbook post might be somewhat useful, but I fear it will only end up being misused as a Your Princess Is in Another Castle on the main site, which we should avoid at all costs. We already demand that site newbies read and understand the entire help center, meta, and other obscure places before making their first post, which leads to some hostility. We should avoid adding "Haven't you read the handbook before posting?" type responses to the list.

  • 1
    Y U need no Memes?! (I love the use of memes in this post explaining that we need no memes)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 16:58
  • 1
    It appears that this has become SERIOUS BUSINESS Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 20:11

I think it may be a matter of it asking for conflicting things

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

These lines seem to request pre-emptively addressing common points of confusion or commonly given answers within this community. On this front most of the common points of confusion within our community are items with at least some sort of negative angle to them and as a community we don't endorse boilerplate answers. Along this line meme would be an idea which is informally passed within a community.


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.

this seems to maybe point at explaining inside jokes and shorthand ideas. Our community isn't one with a lot of inside jokes so very little explanation seems to be required in this respect. Along this line meme would be a joke or idea told in a shorthand way without full explanation.

I think the OP should clarify which aspect is being requested. I feel that my answer to this question adequately addressed a point of confusion on the first angle (ie why are these nearly identical questions treated differently) but completely missed the mark for the second.

  • I think that both quotes are saying really similar things in different phrasings. However, I do agree that separating those two aspects you describe might be a good idea, and seems other users notice the same.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:24
  • @DarkCygnus Similar but displaying nuanced differences is also a meme of sorts in this community.
    – Myles
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:28
  • Maybe you are right. Even though, the point I think is more important that you mentioned is the need of separation or clarification between those two. Maybe separate posts for both purposes (or just for the concepts and ideas one), or maybe some indicator in the answer about its nature.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 16:30

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