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According to our moderator JohnGB:

The problem is that it was decided years ago to disallow questions about icon suggestions. Outside of the site policy, I would like to allow questions about common icons (which would include this question), but until there is a consensus on amending the icon rules, any question about icons for x purpose is going to be off topic.

Is it time to rethink that old decision and allow icon questions in accordance with moderator JohnGB's recommendation?

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Yes, let's allow questions relating to icon suggestions where the answers can help contribute to a canonical reference of helpful user interface recommendations and guidelines.

  • As a clarification, I am only for allowing questions on icons that are broadly useful to many people. Share, save, favourite, etc. Not an icon to "use a guitar" or some other niche use. – JohnGB May 25 '16 at 10:09
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There are two issues with icon suggestion questions.

  1. There is rarely a correct answer. Whilst things like "Save" have long existing conventions, the same isn't really true for the majority of items that could contain icons. This site isn't for suggesting 'I think that you should use a {thing} as the icon' because that's purely subjective, and you end up just voting on what looks the nicest, rather than on which one solves the problem. If we allow questions for some type of icon design that opens the door for all sorts of them. And (speaking from experience of the early days of this site) you end up getting loads of icon suggestion requests of a very broad and subjective nature that don't really help anyone other than the asker.

  2. Icon design isn't really a User Experience problem in the first place. If you needed an icon in your company you wouldn't go to the UX designer - you'd go to the Visual Designer. There is a graphic design stackexchange site already, and it's been discussed as to whether Icon Suggestions work better over there than here. That's probably a better place than here, but even then it'd have to be an answerable question and not just 'design me an icon for {thing}'.

  • Hi Jon. I totally respect your opinion (sincerely), and I totally disagree with it (honestly)! :-) (1) This site is filled with subjective opinions. UX is part science and part art. As such, many, many of the answers on this site are subjective opinions. (2) The reason why UX is so bad on so many systems (software, websites, hardware) is because visual designers created the human interfaces instead of UX/UI experts. Visual designers make things pretty. UX/UI experts make them usable. – RockPaperLizard May 23 '16 at 1:24
  • @RockPaperLizard It's not so much that they are subjective, more that all answers are equally as valid as eachother. Subjective questions can still have answers that are 'better' than others at solving the problem. But icon suggestions have no way of measuring which is 'better' than the other, other than personal preference. – JonW May 23 '16 at 8:16
  • I must respectfully disagree. A formal usability study will scientifically determine which icon is more effective at accomplishing its goal. Although not as scientific, basic polling can also provide insight into which icon might be more effective. – RockPaperLizard May 23 '16 at 19:49
  • @JonW I agree that the finer details of an icon design are mostly a graphic design question, but I believe that the broader idea is a UX one. Take "save" as an example. I can say that the "save" icon should be a picture of a floppy disk (actually called a stiffy in many countries), but there are many ways to design a floppy disk icon. A graphic design question would be more about how to design the floppy disk icon, and the UX question would be more about what icon makes the most sense. Yes, it's subjective, but in many cases there is a clearly better answer. – JohnGB May 25 '16 at 10:08
  • @JohnGB I agree. – RockPaperLizard May 25 '16 at 10:37

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