LittleBITS: Notes from Ukraine, TidBITS Talk Emoji Responses

Originally published at: LittleBITS: Notes from Ukraine, TidBITS Talk Emoji Responses - TidBITS

This week’s edition of LittleBITS brings email from a friend of TidBITS in Ukraine, plus details about how you can now respond to TidBITS Talk posts with emoji, much like Apple’s Tapback feature in Messages.

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Big :+1: to Irene Stepanovska and her fellow Ukrainians. This is not the first time I read such an account (and thank you @ace for forwarding). But these accounts all strike me in the same manner. The grace and determination with which these people stand up to barbarism in the face of all-out war is impressive.

I cannot imagine what their life must have turned into during the past year, but I am thoroughly impressed with their dignity and their perseverance. I hope for us all, they emerge victorious and once again free from tyranny.

I tip my hat to you brave people. You are setting one heck of an example for the rest of us to live up to. :muscle:


The first thing the United States did in its wars with Iraq (in both 1991 and 2003) was to take out the power grid, with lots of attendant civilian casualties. The Iraqis were not lucky enough to have quite the communication and integration with various Western communities as do the Ukrainians. They did not have the same publicity but surely similar levels of suffering.

This is not in the least to justify or defend the Russians – not whataboutism to let them off the hook. It’s to point out that if you live in the United States, you live in a country that commits similar levels of violence when its government feels it necessary. Something to think about the next time the US contemplates going to war, if less comforting than the easy good/bad of the Ukrainian/Russian conflict.


As much as I don’t want the discussion to devolve into the details of or potentially contentious comparisons of geopolitical conflicts, I appreciate what I see as the larger point here — that war is hell and should be avoided if at all possible. Perhaps the way that interconnectedness of today’s world brings home the impact of war on people just like us will help the leaders of tomorrow work to prevent it from happening.


I confess that when presented with the list of emojis at the bottom of a post … I can’t remember what they all mean. :pleading_face::weary::scream:

Currently, the tooltip that displays when the cursor is placed above each emoji displays a description of the emoji (as usual).

Is there any way to get it to display (some portion of) these intended meanings (instead or in addition):

  • :heart: is the default, and I see it as a simple way to say, “Good post!”
  • :+1: may seem quite similar to :heart:, but I intend it to mean something more specific: “I agree with what you said in this post.”
  • :100: is intended to be the superlative of :heart:, in the sense of “This post is both entirely correct and utterly helpful!”
  • :raised_hands: means “Thank you!” and is a quick way to show appreciation for assistance.
  • :grin: lets you mark a post as being amusing. ‘Nuff said.
  • Apple six colors logois a custom emoji we added called “apple-six-colors.” Use it to express, “Yay, Apple!” or “Steve Jobs would have loved this.”
  • :question: exists so you have a way to note that you found a post confusing.
  • :-1: lets you indicate that you disagree with a post without going into details.

No, sorry, there’s no way to provide the cheat sheet. It may be that we’ve gone overboard in the nuance of having different ways of expressing approval.

I haven’t been a huge fan of :heart: myself but if it’s default and can’t be removed and you want to weed it out some, it could make sense to just get rid of :+1: and :100:. That would — apart from :raised_hands: :question: :grin: which I all like — leave just one for approval, one for disapproval, done.

Yeah, we can’t remove :heart:.

The big reason I’m leaning toward removing the non-heart approval emoji is that when they line up at the left, it requires a fair amount of thinking to figure out what people have implied using them.

Is there a way to provide custom tool-tips for the emojis?

For example, on NextDoor, it looks like:

Screen Shot 2023-01-02 at 18.29.40

Hovering over each icon shows the intended meaning:

  • Heart = Like
  • Smile = Thank
  • +1 = Agree
  • Laughing smile = HaHa
  • Astonished smile = Wow
  • Blue smile = Sad

Can something like that be done here? Or would that require renaming the characters themselves (and probably breaking their usage elsewhere)?

Not as far as I can tell, but it would be a good suggestion for the Discourse folks. I could see another column in the settings that would let you assign your preferred term.

But how do you display “apple_six_colors” then?

I presume that the 6-color apple is an image, not an emoji. Instead of using emoji characters, can all the ratings be images, each named in a way that indicates its purpose?

UPDATE January 4, 2023 3:32 AM

I see that the Apple Logo “” (U+F8FF) is a “Private Use Area (PUA) character that is supported on iOS and macOS. This character is not recommended for interchange as it is only intended for support on Apple platforms.”

But the apple displayed here in TidBITS Talk is 6 colors, not black and white. So, I guess that you’re not using this emoji character for it.

After fiddling with the page source, these glyphs appear to be drawn with the following css code, not just simply emoji:

<svg class="css-o9wm2k" width="24" height="24" viewBox="0 0 24 24" fill="none" data-testid="reaction-icon" alt="Like" role="img"><path fill-rule="evenodd" clip-rule="evenodd" d="M13.275 8.752a1.5 1.5 0 01-2.55 0C9.75 7.18 8.719 5.617 6.565 6.074 5.248 6.352 4 7.433 4 9.644c0 2.153 1.348 4.592 4.259 7.236A28.475 28.475 0 0012 19.74a28.475 28.475 0 003.741-2.86C18.651 14.236 20 11.797 20 9.643c0-2.21-1.25-3.29-2.564-3.57-2.155-.456-3.187 1.106-4.16 2.68zm-2.581-3.48C7.634 2.58 2 4.217 2 9.643c0 2.996 1.85 5.934 4.914 8.717 1.478 1.343 3.1 2.585 4.839 3.575a.5.5 0 00.494 0c1.739-.99 3.361-2.232 4.84-3.575C20.148 15.577 22 12.64 22 9.643c0-5.426-5.634-7.062-8.694-4.371A5.287 5.287 0 0012 7.04a5.287 5.287 0 00-1.306-1.77z" fill="currentColor"></path></svg>

However it works, I can’t understand what is going on.

That is the code of an SVG image, it’s not CSS code. NextDoor appears to use a mix of linked to .svg image files and inlining SVG code in the HTML. None of that helps with replicating having a word appear above the image when hovered, that happens because the word is already in the HTML and CSS is used to make it appear on hover.

Anyway, as Adam suggested, it would be a feature request to make to the Discourse people. Giving the NextDoor UI as an example would be helpful but the implementation details would be up to the Discourse programmers.


Oh, good eye. apple_six_colors is a custom emoji that I named, which would suggest that we could create custom emoji for each, with a custom name for each. A bit of work, but not terrible.

Oh, wait, it looks like there might already be a solution to this:

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OK, everyone, try it now. I pulled the :100: emoji because it was just too nuanced.

I’d sort of like to get them all on one line, but that would require removing another reaction.

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On my Mac Studio and Studio Display, they are on one line. But of course, iOS devices have much smaller screens, so I get what you’re saying. For me, they all seem to work and labeled as intended.

I would vote the Apple logo off the island. Of the seven, that one has the least intuitive meaning to me.

This is a big improvement, though I agree having more than a single row on my iPhone is annoying.

As for which one(s) to vote off the island …

I think that the criterion for selecting emoji should be the degree to which each provides feedback to the poster. With this in mind:

  • Is there a significant difference between :heart: (like) and :+1: (agree)? In other words, is it likely that someone would like a post but not agree with it? (If someone likes a post but doesn’t agree with it then isn’t a reply post explaining exactly what they like but don’t agree with more useful than choosing between the two?) I think one of them should go and I’d keep :+1: because it is obviously the opposite of :-1:.
  • I don’t think that the six-color apple (“6C”) provides feedback to the poster; it provides feedback to Apple, who is likely not a part to the thread. I vote 6C off the island.
  • I think that :raised_hands:t2: is more likely to be perceived as “agree” than “thanks”; in at least one dictionary high-fiving is a sign of celebration and there is no mention of thanks. Therefore, I’d use :pray: to indicate thanks. Yes, :pray: is also a sign of prayer but emojipedia lists “please or thank you” first in its explanation of the character.

As always, just my 2¢.

In another forum that I frequent the heart is “Love” and the thumbs up is “Like.” I suppose this kind of inconsistency from one forum to the next is to be expected.

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Heart and thumbs up are the same to me - I agree with the post. I will never love a post.

Thumbs up (or heart, since you can’t remove it), thumbs down - that’s all I really need. As long as those are there, that’s fine with me. The rest mean nothing to me.