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Someone asked in the Math.StackExchange chatroom what a "more refined word for circlejerk" might be. UrbanDictionary defines this (in our desired usage) as:

  • [...] pompous, self-congratulatory discussion where little to no progress is made.

  • A group discussion or activity between like-minded individuals that validates mutual biases or goals in a non-confrontational environment.

  • Sometimes used to describe an internet forum thread where forum members all give each other kudos (Or rep where a rep system is present) for some non-event that has occurred.

I guess it's related to "intellectual masturbation" or "echo chamber" but these don't quite fit the bill.

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The whole concept is vulgar. How can you have a non vulgar synonym for a vulgar concept? –  emory Jun 15 '12 at 2:40
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@emory: The term "circlejerk" is being used as a metaphor in these bullet points; the literal meaning is mutual masturbation (e.g. men in a circle jerking each other off). Surely the figurative meaning is less vulgar than this. –  anon Jun 15 '12 at 5:39
    
It reminds me of the phrase "walled garden", but not quite the same thing. –  Andrew Grimm Nov 27 '12 at 20:06
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5 Answers

up vote 33 down vote accepted

Perhaps they are members of a mutual admiration society.

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a classy answer, my good man. –  shinyspoongod Jun 17 '12 at 5:38
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How about a group of "yes"-men?

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A yes man is somebody who assumes the same opinion as some influential person. IMHO, taking the same opinion can both be honest or a way of brown-nosing. In a circle jerk, everybody genuinely has the same or very similar opinions and reinforce one another in that vision. –  Egon Jun 16 '12 at 5:21
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“Patting each other on the back” would fit the bill. For example:

If you’re finished with this circle jerk, maybe we could move on to new business.

Could be replaced with:

If you’re finished patting each other on the back, maybe we could move on to new business.

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The connotations of this are a lot weaker than "circlejerk". –  Stephanie Jun 15 '12 at 5:17
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@Stephanie Aren't the connotations for any non-vulgar alternative to a vulgar phrase by definition weaker? –  ghoppe Jun 15 '12 at 14:51
    
I think this works best as a substitute, and would have a similar level of admonishment without the vulgarity. –  ghoppe Jun 15 '12 at 14:55
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@Stephanie Weaker and less fun, but that's where good manners gets you. –  Dean Jun 15 '12 at 15:52
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@Stephanie It also depends on tone and context, of course. In my opinion, if someone said "If you're finished patting each other on the back…" in a meeting I was part of, I would receive quite a direct message. This is not a particularly polite or weakly-worded thing to say in my view, and the meaning is clear: you've all been blowing hot air and discussing unimportant things. –  ghoppe Jun 18 '12 at 17:33
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I would describe it as a "mutual appreciation society".

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The notion of groupthink is closely related.

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The only problem with that is that it's an uncountable noun. –  Joe Z. Jan 4 '13 at 17:46
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protected by RegDwigнt Sep 21 '12 at 14:34

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