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"We are all adults here" seems to be a clickbait added to titles of questions. One such question was asked in 2011, another was asked in 2013, and starting in May 2016 it seems to have started to become a meme.

I'm not the only one to have noticed this trend:

28⇧  Do we need an all-adults-here tag yet? – Henning Makholm yesterday

Anyone can read Stack Exchange questions and answers. The CC BY-SA license makes it effectively impossible to discriminate against viewers by age.

Furthermore, the Terms of Service prohibit users under age 13 from signing up, so younger readers can't really say "Hey, I'm not an adult!"

Is there any value to the "As we are all adults here" phrase? Can we quash it?

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    In most contexts with which I'm familiar, 13-to-17-year-olds are not legally adults. But surely for the typical all-adults-here question, 13-year-olds are only marginally less likely to have the requisite maturity than, say, 60-year-olds. – phoog Jun 20 '16 at 23:57
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    No need for a tag, but this is a common phrase used in other places,not just SE. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 21 '16 at 8:13
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    @Shadow In my experience it is used more to indicate that the social group can talk about or do something that is legally age restricted, rather than to signal that something should be treated with an "adult" attitude, tho I've heard both. I only ever use it sarcastically given how facetious it sounds. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 13:09
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    @bjb well, the questions here on Travel using this are not really about things which are age restricted, actually kids have less trouble than adults talking about things like toilets and how to use them. :) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 21 '16 at 13:46
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    To me, it's harmless. If I was a kid, I wouldn't feel excluded as it's a pretty standard idiom to express seriousness. – JS Lavertu Jun 21 '16 at 14:16
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    I always felt that the first one from 2011 was perfect for drawing audience and for anyone that took a look through top questions (still #1). I think after that it's been pretty superfluous. – Raystafarian Jun 21 '16 at 17:12
  • Most of the stupid questions asked about pee, etc, are just beavis-and-butthead types asking silly questions on the internet for a snicker. Such questions should be immediately deleted. It's ridiculous and annoying when they are not deleted and attract answers and comments. – Fattie Jun 22 '16 at 23:49
  • Can someone tell me what "being an adult is"? It is a very ill-defined term. Are we talking sexual maturity? Age of majority? And in which locale? – Peter M Jun 23 '16 at 18:14
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    Yo. I'm 16. I think the phrase is an expression... Basically "can we all be mature here?" – Zizouz212 Jun 24 '16 at 19:41
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    If we really were all adults, we wouldn't have to say "we're all adults here". :P – Andrew Grimm Jun 26 '16 at 3:33
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    I think it's a meme and probably not necessary, but it's also pretty harmless. – Urbana Jun 27 '16 at 6:30
41

We are almost certainly not all adults here, and I can think of several questions where the OP has indicated that they were under 18.

In this case, "we are all adults here" need not be taken so literally. The point is that we all should be capable of talking about such toilet and hygiene questions in a relatively adult way, with perhaps just some fun sniggering, regardless of anybody's biological age. It also serves as a signal that this is a (semi ?)serious question and reasonable, adult answers are requested.

All that said, it's a fun little inside joke on these questions and I see no reason to get rid of it.

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    The Stack Exchange "no chit-chat" norm already requires answers to be reasonably informative. The sniggering can only make the site slightly less serious than treating it as just another question. – 200_success Jun 21 '16 at 3:19
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    @200_success It's just a simple way for an asker to indicate that they understand that a question looks silly and/or embarrassing, but they are actually serious. If we were a community of rule-following robots then sure, it'd be redundant, but as it is, it's simply a harmless example of good human communication and tone-setting. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 21 '16 at 10:00
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    @user568458 I'd disagree. The phrase sounds tone-deaf given the surrounding culture of seriousness and how it skirts the real meaning: "This is a serious question". "We're all adults here" doesn't say anything about how the question should be interpreted, but is a false statement that merely implies that we're adults ∧ adults are serious ∧ non-adults aren't serious (so as to warrant the phrase) ⇒ this is serious. This line of reasoning, the only one that would make the phrase make sense, alienates a large segment of the user base and creates a sense of mock pompousness. Not what we want. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 13:05
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    @bjb568isnotapebble I think you're reading way too much into this. It's simply a common phrase, with a meaning similar to "Don't laugh" or "I realise this sounds silly, but...", acknowledging that a question is a little embarrassing. Nothing more, nothing less. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 21 '16 at 13:37
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    @user568458 Both of your example phrases are useless and using them makes you sound uneducated. Those phrases in addition to the phrase being discussed here are completely inappropriate on SE, where the focus is on content and conveying actual meaning, rather than just maximizing he use of trivial phrases. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 13:47
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    @bjb568isnotapebble There really is nothing that won't offend someone on the internet, is there? – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 21 '16 at 14:13
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    If that phrase really makes you think someone is uneducated, you need to chill out. Seriously, I dont understand how this is even a big deal. – JS Lavertu Jun 21 '16 at 14:15
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    @bjb568isnotapebble I see you're mostly a StackOverflow user and not a Travel.SE user. Communicating "I realise this looks silly, but I genuinely need to know" here is equivalent to "I realise this looks basic, but I genuinely can't find it in the docs" there. It's just a simple sign of respect to the community you're asking the question to. It communicates something like "I know this looks ridiculous, but [I genuinely don't know what I bidet is] / [the documentation genuinely doesn't say how to print a log message]". Without it, the question might look like a wind-up. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 21 '16 at 14:19
  • @Aeris I do chill out, just with people who at least have the decency to talk logically, meaningfully, and purposefully in a way that communicates that they have agency. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 14:19
  • @user568458 That phrase (or similar phrases) on Stack Overflow literally gets edited out of a question more often than once a minute. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 14:20
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    Although, if you're trying to search for this on Google, who's seriously going to put into Google "we're all adults here"? At best, this is useless fluff -- not exactly something to be all outraged over though. – hichris123 Jun 21 '16 at 16:50
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    @hichris123 Google still finds it just fine from the remainder of the title. – reirab Jun 24 '16 at 4:51
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    @reirab But why even include "we're all adults here" then? My point is it's entirely useless as a phrase -- it doesn't help visibility from Google. There's no benefit to it. – hichris123 Jun 24 '16 at 16:53
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    @hichris123 I think this answer already explains that well enough, as do the next two. "Doesn't improve Google results" isn't the same as "no benefit." – reirab Jun 24 '16 at 16:56
  • I think we'll have to agree to disagree here, @reirab. – hichris123 Jun 24 '16 at 17:09
22

If we are going to take every idiom and expression literally, then not only SE will be less fun, but life itself will be boring. Please, loosen up a little. Otherwise, we will not have cool posts like this one, which in your perception, would be a death threat, while it's just funny in reality.

So, take a deep breath and relax.

6

Is a phrase used 6 times over the 3 year period "becoming a meme"? I suspect that if the mods felt this way, they could simply do a quick edit.

In my opinion, it's a member's way of saying "I'm about to ask a question related to bodily function. Can we not joke about it, or give sarcastic answers?"

To that end, I'd suggest the phrase be let go, but that mods quickly kill any inappropriate comments. Situation solved.

For what it's worth, what irks one of us might not even be noticed by others. I've seen a flurry of questions begin with "So," and, as a mod on Money.SE, I've taken to editing that out on new questions, but no desire to have my own OCD bump old questions where I notice that.

2

You, by you I mean whoever is looking at the 'meme' or calling it superfluous are not looking from the asker's viewpoint. For instance I asked about this yesterday. I, along with many Asians are not used to asking things straight and having such 'hangers on' relieves a bit of tension of me/us.

For many a people, it would probably be a stupid question, probably something a 5 year old should know but I didn't know. And it's just not one way, it's the truth the other way around as well. The link is to share practises which we may have used since childhood in our cultural context but in a site like Travel.SE where multi-cultural-ism is supposed to thrive you have/should give space to people who are asking it.

In fact, just to share how embarrassing it was, the first or second time I came out, I did ask the help of the flight attendant to help me figure out how to work it, even she had an issue with it while at the same time she was sniggering as I probably was asking a lame question. All in all, not a good place to be in. I do hope it makes a bit more sense now.

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What if I'm not an adult? Can I not participate? Can I not read the question? Is it somehow inappropriate for me? Of course not. Nothing, especially on the internet, is just for adults — especially toilet technology, which is obviously used by people of all ages, and, ironically, is more freely talked about among children.

We are not all adults here. Saying that we are're adults is wrong, irrelevant, and condescending. The phrase is fluff, which does not belong in an SE post. Given that the phrase is applied so broadly and indiscriminately, it provides no value and should be quashed. If it "isn't supposed to be taken literally", not only does it not add value, but it conveys literally no meaning.

Stack Exchange already has a tacit policy contained in its culture that the tone should always be professional on main sites. This phrase is just fluff. Remove it.

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    "Not taken literally" =/= "meaningless." Your four leading rhetorical questions aren't meant to be take literally either, yet you still posted them. – Azor Ahai Jun 21 '16 at 17:37
  • @Azor-Ahai Of course those are not the same thing. Figurative language is fine, repeated vacuous phrases are not. BTW, the first four questions in my post, while rhetorical, aren't examples of figurative language. – bjb568 Jun 21 '16 at 22:03
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    If an adult person e.g. throws a fit over an issue which seems quite irrelevant, I (and many other people) will tell him "Please behave like an adult". If your claim would be correct, then the sentence is a tautology and meaningless because it is an adult. But in fact the person does not feel it this way, because the sentence have a very clear meaning apart from its literal meaning. You are simply trying to bolster your argument by profoundly denying that the other interpretation exists and you are quite wrong in this regard. – Thorsten S. Jun 28 '16 at 1:21
  • @ThorstenS. I avoid that phrase because it is both condescending to children and doesn't have the intended meaning given how many adults behave badly. The other "interpretation" isn't a valid alternative, it's just wrong. – bjb568 Jun 28 '16 at 4:57

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