Update again: it looks like you're hiring professionals to do this. What a shame. There is so much talent here and the logos for the current SE sites were all designed by users.

Update: With some of the proposals getting close to the beta stage, I really think that this needs to be answered. I'm eager to fire up Inkscape and get sketching!

When a proposal meets the threshold for beta, where do you get the logo for it?

Could we have a mini-contest for each site? The prize could be a certain number of points on that site or even just an acknowledgement.

  • 7
    hmm... choosing a logo is not reason enough for the system to trust you with 2000 rep
    – juan
    Jun 3, 2010 at 1:08
  • Maybe not 2000, but I like where George is going with this.
    – user27414
    Jun 3, 2010 at 1:29
  • 8
    Make it 2k rep on Meta, we all know the value of that...
    – Gnome
    Jun 3, 2010 at 1:47

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure where you're reading that user contributions are not welcomed, whether it's for logo design ideas or otherwise.

Stack Overflow has a long tradition of tapping the resources of the community to come up with great ideas, using Careers and hiring directly from the community again, again, and again, coming up with product ideas and other designs — and yes even coming up with logos times three.

There are no set-in-stone procedures about how all the design details of a new site are going to happen (colors, logos, authorship of system documents, etc). Frankly, it's because, as far as these new Stack Exchange communities go... we haven't met them, yet.

Will users want to play a role in the process? Surely. Can we count on every community to hold a logo contest? Probably not. We have some fantastic designers on staff to create logos and other site elements. But sure, I think the community is free to PROPOSE logos but, as I discussed in these comments, we would have to own those designs once we decide to use them.

The Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange name and logos are trademarks of Stack Overflow Inc. The names and logos for sites and products operating on the Stack Exchange network are also trademarks of Stack Overflow Inc.

  • 1
    I totally understand you owning the logos. No problems here. I just didn't want you guys unnecessarily hiring a bunch of people to do what we as a community would otherwise love to do. So what you're saying is that basically the community for each site is welcome to submit a design, but if they don't, you will make sure they get one? Can you please make sure that the community does get a chance though - by announcing the need for a logo in advance? Jun 28, 2010 at 3:14
  • As the man said, the communities on a given site may or may not produce a suitable logo. The SO people can actually afford to hire a graphic designer if necessary - and did so for the Area 51 site. The artwork was done by the guy that did the artwork for suck.com. He's a freelance illustrator. Jul 1, 2010 at 15:06
  • 1
    @George, so, wait, you don't want them to create jobs? WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?
    – Pops
    Jul 1, 2010 at 15:38

Voting somewhere in the site proposal process makes sense, and should come after the site name is picked. (As I understand things, that's not fixed at the beginning, and should only be finally determined after the scope is decided.)

A mention and link in the FAQ and/or About pages of the site could be the reward, guaranteed to last while the logo is in use (but could last longer). It fits in with the About page more than FAQ, but I get the impression SE About pages are rarely viewed, while "who designed the logo?" could honestly be frequently asked. — Area 51 currently shows this in the /faq.

Another idea is hold off until the site leaves private beta (this is a phase after "leaving" AFO, right?).

What license would the logo and any other design be contributed under? If it's CC-derived, mention might have to be made somewhere, possibly on each page (footer?). That might be too much clutter and would allow any submitted design to be used for a random site (assuming the design proposals are under the same license), both of which may not be desired. (Unknown use of the design would affect submission, possibly negatively.)

  • Logos would not be covered by Creative Commons. All logos and artwork (essentially everything not posted by users) is copyright Stack Overflow, Inc. Jun 3, 2010 at 2:11
  • @Robert: If there is a public contest for logos, under what license would that work be submitted to the contest?
    – Gnome
    Jun 3, 2010 at 2:19
  • I think you'd basically be turning the rights over to them. Jun 3, 2010 at 3:08
  • @The Cat: Generally, the copyright is held by the designer but, when entering the contest, they agree to a copyright transfer upon being selected at which time the copyright is transferred to the contest sponsor. Jun 3, 2010 at 3:36
  • 8
    All your logo are belong to us.
    – Benjol
    Jun 3, 2010 at 11:56
  • 5
    Do we get a turtle in logo?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jun 3, 2010 at 13:10

During beta, the site will have a generic "beta" design and logo. Towards the end of beta, users of the site will vote on a logo and name for the site.

From Joel's original blog post on Stack Exchange 2.0:

During the open beta, the site will be open to the public at a temporary domain name (topic.StackExchange.com). The site will be all black and white, and include an animated-GIF “under construction” triangle showing men at work, from 1996.

This phase will last between 60 and 90 days. At the end of that period, the site will need to reach a minimum critical mass to continue and move on to full citizenship.


A citizen site gets its own top-level domain, chosen by its community. There are elections for moderators, we’ll have a graphic designer make the site look great, and let the community pick a logo.

  • A graphic designer? Why can't the community contribute ideas? Jun 18, 2010 at 5:54
  • beta sites are open, but where is the 1996 under construction GIF ? This is a horrible lack of feature. ... :) Aug 17, 2010 at 16:32
  • The site will be all black and white, and include an animated-GIF “under construction” triangle showing men at work, from 1996. Can you show a screenshot? I'm really itching to see how a site looks under construction. Jul 13, 2017 at 8:11

I think if the community wanted another logo, held a contest and produced something suitable, it would (probably) get accepted. I think the most important part of the private beta is getting the site out of 'bootstrap' mode (as it was named in SE 1.0 sites), then focusing on keeping questions and answers on topic.

If a proposal I started got into beta, and the highest voted question was a new logo proposal after 30 days, I'd probably be a little miffed. I like the idea, I just don't think it needs to be a 'step' in the beta phase. I like the SO logo, but that's not why I use the site :)

Metaphorically speaking, you're decorating the walls before the framing and roof are done.

I also think future sites that get to beta, seeded by a crowd that is not-programming-related would appreciate the fact that a designer 'just did it' and they don't have to worry about it.

Still, I'd have a hard time conceiving that the logo provided is in some way immutable. If the community came up with their own, I can't imagine that it would not be used.


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