Whether you love it or hate it, Unicode’s smiling poo emoji has become a ubiquitous fixture of digital communication; it’s frequented ‘most popular’ lists for years, and inspired everything from clothing and plush pillows to baked goods.
But, the seemingly innocuous character now has typography experts up in arms.
A recent proposal to add a ‘Frowning Pile of Poo’ has sparked a heated debate among contributors, with some arguing that doing so will lead to other unnecessary poo emotions – and, to put it simply, they ‘don't want this kind of crap’ on their phones.
In an October 22 memo to the Unicode Technical Committee, typographers Michael Everson and Andrew West have scathing words on the question of a Frowning Pile of Poo. Several renditions of a possible Frowning Poo are shown above
THE ORIGIN OF EMOJI
In 1998, then 25-year-old Shigetaka Kurita created the first set of 176 emoji as an employee for mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo.
Emoji combines the Japanese for 'picture,' or 'e'' (pronounced 'eh'), and 'letters,' or 'moji' (moh-jee).
In 2010, the 12-by-12-pixel designs were adopted as a global standard by the Unicode Consortiums.
That means any phone or operating system that follows the standard will use the same images, making them a universal language.
– Associated Press
For now, it appears the concerns have been heard; Unicode revealed today that the frowning poo has been removed from the 2018 shortlist.
It will be reviewed again in January.
The original proposal, dated August 2, presented a slew of possible takes on the Frowning Poo, along with evidence of the original character’s popularity, in efforts to justify the need for expanded emotions.
According to the team behind it, a frowning character could be met with a similar response, helping to ‘fill the gap’ and even replace swear words.
Everson argues that it ‘is bad enough’ that the smiling poo character exists in the first place.
‘Organic waste isn’t cute,’ wrote Everson, noting that the emoji was added for compatibility with Japanese mobile platforms.
‘It is a pity that Apple followed Softbank rather than KDDI in its reference glyph, since a coil of dog dirt with stink lines is surely the only proper semantic,' Everson wrote.
‘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.
‘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.’
Everson argues that it ‘is bad enough’ that the smiling poo character exists in the first place. ‘It is a pity that Apple followed Softbank rather than KDDI in its reference glyph, since a coil of dog dirt with stink lines (right) is surely the only proper semantic,' Everson wrote
In his feedback, Everson requests the Frowning Poo character is removed from the set, and its encoding rejected.
He also argues that its inclusion could lead to bullying, raising the question: ‘what possible good could come of encoding such a character’?
West expressed similar disdain for the smiling poo emoji and the possibility of additional emotions, beginning with a frowning counterpart.
‘I’m concerned that this character will open the floodgates for an open-ended set of Pile of Poo emoji with emotions, such as Crying Pile of Poo, Pile of Poo with Look of Triumph, Pile of Poo Screaming in Fear, etc,’ West wrote.
Despite the harsh backlash, it appears the Frowning Poo is still in consideration. On Tuesday, Unicode added the proposal to its official document register, prompting West to comment that the character has ‘come back to haunt us’
‘Is there really any need to add a range of emotions to Pile of Poo? I personally think that changing Pile of Poo to a de facto Smiling Pile of Poo was wrong, but adding Frowning Pile of Poo as a counterpart is even worse.
‘If this is accepted there will be no neutral, expressionless Pile of Pool so at least a Pile of Poo with No face would be required to be encoded to restore some balance.
‘I recommend removing Frowning Pile of Poo pending further study, and public consultation on the need for additional Pile of Poo emoji.’
Despite the harsh backlash, it appears the Frowning Poo is still in consideration.
On Tuesday, Unicode added the proposal to its official document register, prompting West to comment that the character has ‘come back to haunt us.’