I think that a joke can get away with being overused if it's funny enough to be worth repeating and/or can be reinvented each time it's made. Neither of these apply to most common 'programmer jokes'. They are mildly funny at best, and so devoid of conceptual nuance or detail that it's impossible to create new takes on them. As a result most online spaces devoted to programmer humour contain discussions that seem AI-generated, given the predictability of each exchange of bland one-liners.

'C++/JavaScript/PHP/Python/some other language BAD'

This could be funny if the joke provided some insight into why [language] is BAD, but this is never done. It's always delivered as an unclarified general statement. This leads me to believe that most of the people who keep making and laughing at such statements don't really know or care why [language] may be BAD, and are just inanely repeating some soundbite. This is most likely due to them being a) inexperienced at [language], such that they base their limited knowledge of it on others' claims; b) inept at [language], so declaring it BAD makes them feel better about themselves; or c) both. I don't disagree that some languages are flawed and difficult to work with, but these denunciations come across as truly trite and brainless. The new 'Four legs good, two legs bad' is 'Rust good, C++ bad'.

References to copying and pasting code from StackOverflow

Whatever potential for creativity this joke concept has is as of yet unexplored, because all StackOverflow jokes are presented in the same way: 'I can't do my job without StackOverflow, because I'm incapable of writing decent code on my own! XD'. I'd respect it if someone were to joke about the actual problems they have when trying to code; such a joke has more scope for originality as different scenarios can arise, and also gives the impression that the coder is in fact trying. But no, 'StackOverflow CTRL+C CTRL+V! I can't be arsed to come up with my own code or jokes! Teehee'. I'd be a liar if I claimed to never use StackOverflow or Google to find solutions; however I treat it as more of a last resort.

It seems that the people who make typical programming jokes are barely invested in programming itself. This view of mine is reinforced by the fact that so many 'programming jokes' not only give the impression that the people making them don't know what they're talking about, but also have little or nothing to do with actual programming.

Jokes about binary numbers

(Well, the one joke about binary numbers that's been made 10 million times). So you found out that notation other than base ten exists. How clever. It's just a maths joke, and not a particularly amazing one at that.

Jokes that could apply to any office job

These tend to be made by some of the most aggravating people on the internet besides vegans and potheads — coffee drinkers. I couldn't care less about your withdrawal-induced tantrums.

The programming socks meme

I have no clue where this came from or what connection to programming it's supposed to have. There isn't even a discernible joke. None of the (several) other programmers/Linux users I know irl wear such socks or are femboys or trans; if the joke is that programmers aren't like that, then it's a stupid joke. The people who post this crap seem to focus on the quirky little aesthetic they made up (thigh-high socks, ThinkPads running Arch/Gentoo Linux, 'I'm a cute fem coder uwu') rather than Linux/programming itself. If this is some kind of bizarre diversity campaign in reaction to the cishet male domination of CS, it's coming across as pretty vapid and insufferable (not unlike most diversity campaigns). Yes, I may be unnecessarily reading into this, because I am perplexed by how a meme could simultaneously lack humour, relevance and purpose. Most memes possess at least one of these.

Though some of these 'programming' 'memes' may die in the future (I hope they do), the next part of this post will ensure that it never becomes too outdated, because this one thing, to my chagrin, obstinately refuses to go away.


I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who doesn't like xkcd. xkcd is everywhere, on meme subreddits, on posters, on slideshows in lectures, staring right back at me when I stare into the void. It took me a while to put my finger on exactly what irks me about xkcd, but I found it eventually: xkcd is where programmer/STEM humour hits peak NPC.

There is nothing unique, original or exciting about xkcd. The punchlines are banal observations that anyone in STEM with a couple of functioning brain cells could make. The art style could be perfectly copied with minimal effort. The tone of the comics (which gets on my nerves for being what I can best describe as 'affectedly quirky') may be a little harder to replicate, but one could do a good job of this by taking on the mindset of someone whose only personality trait is 'relatability' (or as I'd put it, quaintly presented mediocrity).

'Relatability' is what seems to define xkcd and its appeal. It illustrates conclusions that everyone comes to. I don't get what's so great about this. It's not as though xkcd says things better than you could yourself, because literally anyone could make a webcomic just like it (and xkcd doesn't exactly say things well; a lot of its phrasing seems dragged out and awkward rather than fresh and snappy, at least to me). Quoting xkcd is like reaching for a times table when you already know that 3×4=12. So there's a webcomic that archives statements of the obvious (and isn't even self-aware about this)? So what?

To me, quality programmer humour consists of jokes that are actually based on the nature/technicality of programming and make fun of it in creative ways. For example, esoteric languages such as Malbolge, BS, Rockstar and INTERCAL, to name a few of my favourites. I'm also a fan of meme Linux distros like AmogOS and Suicide Linux, and the series of websites based on this masterpiece.