Forget the sad poop emoji news, we need to talk about how angry this guy is about emoticons
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of emoji designs that will never see the light of day. Either the design hasn’t been finalised or if can’t make it through the surprisingly rigorous review process.
The latest casualty? A frowning pile of poo. According to a filing, admittedly from October (found by Buzzfeed News) but being reported on more widely today, the current smiling poo emoji was to be joined by sad-looking cousin. It was floated alongside a range of other icons but it angered typographers so much it was dubbed “damaging.”
Or, to be more specific, it angered typographer and one of Unicode’s reviewers, Michael Everson so much he wrote: “This character is damaging to…the Unicode Standard…The idea that our committees would sanction further cute graphic characters based on this should embarrass absolutely everyone who votes yes on such an excrescence.”
To put it into contexts, Everson is credited with having written more than 200 proposals, effectively adding thousands of characters to the Unicode Standard – so he is an authority on emoji (as well as publishing, fonts and more).
In the filing, Everson goes on to ask what levels the group will sink to next (written in capital letters): “Will we have a CRYING PILE OF POO next? PILE OF POO WITH TONGUE STICKING OUT? PILE OF POO WITH QUESTION MARKS FOR EYES? PILE OF POO WITH KARAOKE MIC? Will we have to encode a neutral FACELESS PILE OF POO? As an ordinary user, I don’t want this kind of crap on my phone.”
And this isn’t Everson’s only complaint. After reading through the document, he doesn’t seem overly enamoured with many of the suggestions.
In response to the proposal of a Blue face with clenched teeth and icicles, Everson wrote: “This emoticon is ridiculous.” For the Grinning face with letters OK as eye, he commented: “What is this for? Why is this useful? The “other keywords” are “Letters” and “OK”. There is no emotion here.”
Other highlights include his comments on the need for clarification about the sliced bagel and doughnut: “If a bagel and a doughnut cannot be distinguished because the glyphs are the same, so be it. The word “bagel” isn’t used rhetorically or metaphorically. It’s just a kind of bread. Does the UCS really need something like this?”
And his response to an emoji for a Top of head with red/curly/no/white hair icon, to which he, rather sensibly, wrote: “These are, no matter what anyone wants to pretend, disembodied human scalps, and scalping is the act of cutting or tearing a part of the human scalp, with hair attached, from the head of an enemy as a trophy.
“If we encode these four characters as-is, they WILL be misused, and that sort of hateful thing is something which we can avoid if we simply examine the issue further.”
His fellow typographer Andrew West is equally irked by some of the suggestions. In response to a proposal for superheroes and supervillains, West wrote: “I feel very strongly that it is wrong to represent roles such as Superhero and Supervillain as dressed up smiley faces. Admittedly there are FACE WITH COWBOW HAT and CLOWN FACE, but this seems to be going to a whole new level, and opens the doors for all sorts of fancy dress emoticons.”
I take emoji very seriously, and I’m not being sarcastic, so to know others feel as strongly is reassuring.