Many sites change their temporary site icons to something more interesting, e.g. Chess.SE uses a rook. From Chinese.SE:

... if you have a unicode symbol, we could use that instead of the "Cn". For example, before it got a site design, the Anime site's logo was the Kanji for anime. ... Catija ♦

And judging from Chinese.SE meta's votes, it looks like Chinese.SE strongly favors 漢 rather than the current "Cn".

However, the example I’m particularly interested in is Islam.SE where we're currently discussing this, and probably the least problematic would be the Kaaba. I made a mock up below (to illustrate my mental picture):

While the Kaaba is a Unicode symbol 🕋, it displays differently on different devices. Also I'm concerned that Stack Exchange uses a kind of "sky blue and white" theme for sites without their own icon, and this might violate that theme.

We haven't made a decision at Islam.SE yet, and there are other possibilities (although nobody has objected to the Kaaba, which is a good sign it's a sensible choice), but it would help us make a decision to know what is possible and what is not.

Question: What Unicode symbols are possible as a temporary site favicon?

I’m particularly worried that either technical or design concerns will mean a “flat no” for some possibilities. In which case, it’s pointless discussing it on the relevant meta site. I could imagine something like the Kaaba being impossible for those reasons or some other reason I haven’t foreseen.

I don't feel this is the question same as What are the requirements for a (beta) site logo?. I'm particularly focused on the choice of Unicode symbol (I edited to make this more apparent), whereas the other post talks about "pixels", etc., which don't directly enter into this question. Furthermore, unlike the other question, I'm talking about the temporary logo: the one we use prior to getting a designed site.

  • 4
    hmm. I'm loathe to hammer it - but this really feels like it belongs to the per site meta. Any great reason its on main meta, when it feels like something for that community to talk about? Dec 8, 2019 at 11:10
  • 5
    Maybe use islam as an example - and broaden it to what kind of things can be used as a site favicon? Dec 8, 2019 at 11:26
  • Rebecca wrote: "... other post talks about "pixels" etc., which don't directly enter into this question.". Huh? --- Like every graphics file format, the favicon format isn't a Unicode symbol. You could take any low resolution image source (letter, Unicode symbol, image) and convert it to a low resolution image; and use that as your favicon.ico file on the server. See 'using a Unicode symbol', the symbol isn't sent in Unicode format. At the resolution available it will look like this.
    – Rob
    Dec 8, 2019 at 14:08
  • Stack Exchange does it (not me), and they've mentioned unicode. Beyond that I don't really know... that's the purpose of asking this question. Dec 8, 2019 at 14:23
  • ... and that is the answer. There's more than one word in the sentence, don't focus on one word for your question. You need to, as a minimum, understand what a favicon.ico file is in order to have done barely sufficient research to ask about this.
    – Rob
    Dec 8, 2019 at 14:37
  • Does this answer your question? How can we change the favicon of SE site in Beta?
    – Rob
    Dec 8, 2019 at 14:42
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    That would be a really cool symbol for the site. Why is it limited to a Unicode character though—couldn’t it be an SVG instead? Dec 8, 2019 at 16:21
  • I don’t know, but I would guess because it’s only a temporary icon, and designers may have an automatic way of generating the relevant images from the symbol. Dec 9, 2019 at 0:38
  • 2
    Given that they probably didn't have emoji in mind when they wrote the guidelines, it seems reasonable to ask. Dec 9, 2019 at 5:36

1 Answer 1


This is likely confusion caused when someone who doesn’t completely understand what they’re explaining tries to explain that thing.

When I say Unicode, I mean the simple characters and symbols that look like they belong to a font... and are, in fact, available in many complete fonts.

Emoji are special and not included. These characters are generally copyrighted based on platform and require licensing to use them in many cases. We don’t just use the code for the symbol so that it appears differently on each system type, we create an image with the letter/s or symbol so it’s always the same.

So, I’m sorry, but this wouldn’t be an option. If the site ever gets a custom design we might design a Kaaba from scratch if it’s a good representation for a logo but we won’t use an emoji in one of our logos.

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    Thanks! This will help us decide what to discuss. Dec 9, 2019 at 5:47
  • "If the site ever gets a custom design", how to achieve that custom design?
    – Rafid
    Jan 21, 2020 at 16:23
  • If the community points SE to a font which may be under a suitable license, then would SE consider a request for its use in a temporary site favicon? I didn't think about the requirements when I saw your comment here, but if we requested 漢 to be in the font 北師大說文小篆 (available here as bnucdp.ttf from Taiwan's national academy Academia Sinica), licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 ...
    – dROOOze
    Jan 24, 2020 at 2:35
  • ... and Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Taiwan (see wiki.ubuntu.org.cn), would the request be considered?
    – dROOOze
    Jan 24, 2020 at 2:35

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