Or is it just me?

Icon comparison

Frankly it doesn't seem to be just me as, it was this comment, currently on 34 upvotes that prompted me to raise this on meta:

With the new site icon and the introduction to the post, I thought I'm on Workplace. – Tomáš Zato

It's nice to see that puzzling graduated and got its site design, but the favicon seems awfully similar and potentially confusing.

Should anything be done about this? Can anything still be done about this?

This issue is also being discussed on the Puzzling Meta:

Puzzling's new favicon is too similar to Workplace's favicon

Jon Ericson, community manager for SE, has responded on that discussion and also replied here.

The Workplace Design Reveal: Site design for Workplace.se

Color scheme

Color scheme

I went with mostly blue shades for the site, with orange for an accent color. Blue symbolizes peace, calm and serenity, but also sensitivity and wisdom. On the other hand, orange warms up the overall tone.


For the logo, I’m using an origami icon for the “O” letter. As a logo mark, it stands out on its own and can be easily translated to other sizes, or for promotional materials for the site.

click on the image below to see the full resolution version Logo

The Puzzling Site Design reveal: Puzzling Design Pitch

After going through the top questions of this site, it was time to find a strong icon which could stand on its own. To do so, I had to dig into the meaning of "Puzzling" and think about how we'd represent it with a shape. Two categories and ideas came out of this exercise:


I believe those 2 paths capture the overall themes of our "Puzzling" community, but it was hard to keep only one, so I decided to give it a try and create a unique shape using both:

Logo explanation

Final logo:


Regarding the logo environment, I kept some of the same themes (discover and mystery) and came up with a pattern which conveys "a few clues within a thousand pieces of evidence" (the light pieces represent the clues).

  • 7
    There isn't space to do much that "reads" well. They were trying for the impossible-object vibe... though the classic version of that is a triangle, which would both be more different and might read better... To my eyes it's sufficiently distinct to not be more that a minor annoyance, but I would like to hear whether it's sufficiently different for folks who are color-blind.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 2:50
  • 2
    Many of the icons are pretty much meaningless anyway. There's nothing about the icon for The Workplace that screams "workplace", as far as I can see. Tossing it out and starting over might be a good approach. I'm not sure it matters all that much. Commented May 22, 2016 at 11:46
  • 5
    @keshlam I'm not sure why they didn't just go for a jigsaw piece to be honest. And I agree that it's a minor issue for people without a visual impairment, I just figured I'd throw it out here to see if anyone considers it a real problem.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 12:16
  • FWIW, it is not just you. I had the same misunderstanding. Moreover, the screenshot you posted was also the first time I saw "their" new icon, and coincidentally the accompanying text happened to suggest a "workplacish" question as well.
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 16:05
  • 7
    As for what could be done about it, if anything needs to be done, I think this is a good time "we" change "our" icon. As it stands, even a person who doesn't frequent "their" site can "get" their icon, but even someone who regularly visits "our" site will have a hard time figuring out what "our" icon means. Personally I have no idea how that square-like thing represents the workplace. Does it represent the 4 walls of an office room, or 4 colleagues working together, or something else? What about the colours? Were they chosen at someone's whim, or do they represent anything?
    – Masked Man
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 16:11
  • @MaskedMan No clue. It's forced into the O in Workplace but that also doesn't really make sense. I personally quite like the colours and abstract design but I agree that it's fairly meaningless.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 17:19
  • 4
    Related discussion on Puzzling's meta.
    – enderland
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 14:18
  • 1
    I still get confused which site I'm on. It's not going to be a problem because, if you're reading something on Workplace or Puzzling, chances are you're interested and the site it's on doesn't matter. If you have an account on one site, you could be confused by lack of privileges, but there's no pressing issue here.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 15:26
  • I suggest a hot-questions duel. Site which gets more and longer stuck questions in the list wins (or loses, I haven't yet made up my mind). Winner keeps an icon, loser changes their
    – gnat
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:35
  • 1
    @gnat I would normally agree and consider us unbeatable, but I've just seen 5 Puzzle questions in a single HNQ sidebar. :)
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 19:51
  • 2
    that's why we need to carefully weight our chances and depending on that decide which outcome is to be considered a win ("I haven't yet made up my mind":)
    – gnat
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 20:00
  • The Workplace can definitely be Puzzling. Maybe that is why we get so many Questions? (Perhaps we should have gone with a W instead of an O? Or am I just being silly there?)
    – user37746
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    I'm inclined to agree with @MaskedMan myself (as a casual visitor to both sites). The "O" doesn't really relate to the Workplace in any way, and the design logic for it also doesn't relate (key feature at the time: it was distinctive). That said, two years of history with the current icon is nothing to sneeze at, so unless someone has an actual suggestion for changing it, I don't think it should be changed for the newcomer. In other words, this is an opportunity to redesign the logo, but only if someone has an idea to take advantage of it with.
    – Bobson
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:27
  • Puzzlings is also very similar to the Google Developer Group logo... Illuminati!
    – Toby
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 9:23
  • 2
    There was an official response from Stack Exchange posted on Puzzling. The short version: The logos aren't going to change.
    – Andy
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 18:40

6 Answers 6


I appreciate that you included the design pitches. They show the process focused on making the logo work for the individual sites:

  • The Workplace logo starts with the idea of "O" (for Office I assume) represented as origami.

  • The Puzzling logo starts with the idea of a keyhole represented as impossible geometry.

At full size the two designs are clearly different. They share design sensibilities, which I think can be attributed to two things:

  1. Despite many differences between Stack Exchange communities, all our sites share many common values and customs.

  2. Both designs were created by Stéphane.

I talked to Stéphane yesterday to gather information to write an answer to a related question on Meta Puzzling. He's comfortable with both designs as is. However, I think the smallest logos are a bit too similar as favicons and on the Hot Network Question sidebar. The problem is not unique to this pair of logos, so I proposed a general solution for the sidebar: append the name of each site to the logo. From the feedback I've received so far, it sounds like that suggestion does not cover most (if any) of the concerns of The Workplace community.

Community Identity

Stack Exchange has always valued community input when it comes to site design. In fact, the original logos for Stack Overflow, Server Fault and Super User were designed by users. Even today, our professional designers solicit community feedback. As recently as the Emacs design you can see that they sometimes change the entire concept of the logo in response to community concerns.

The deeper issue seems to be that The Workplace community didn't follow the design process on Puzzling and only noticed the problem when the design had been finalized. Unfortunately, the way most people initially encounter new site logos is on the Hot Network Question list, which is a feature already disliked by many. So I definitely understand the frustration this community has had with the situation. It's not a pleasant surprise to click on a link that you thought might be some hot new question on your favorite site and land on a question intentionally designed to be cryptic. I would go so far as to call it clickbaity.

Again, fixing the sidebar to remove surprise solves only part of the problem. It does not address the deeper concern:

I think what bothers me (and probably others) most is that this design decision affects us at the Workplace, but we had no say in the matter. In the real world you obviously can't expect this, but we are a closed community with common oversight. We shouldn't all be involved in site-specific decisions, but I would expect those who approve such changes to consider how it may affect others in the greater SE community. I don't feel like that happened here. – David K

As a matter of fact, the similarity was noticed back when the logo was first revealed. If I had to characterize the feedback for the logo in particular, I'd call it "mixed". So the logo should have been changed, right? Not so fast. Every design pitch meets resistance because people have a picture in mind that is very likely different than the designer's. (From my experience as a user: I didn't much like the Christianity deisgn when I saw it. It's grown on me.) Part of the designer's job to have the courage of conviction to stick to their guns sometimes.

My thoughts can be summed up by this comment:

The case of the perfect Puzzling SE logo might be unsolvable. Many SE logos are already enigmatic and all of SE is built on the question mark. At sizes usually displayed, SE logos pretty much amount to shapes and shades -- check out the color-bordered diamond of workplace.stackexchange.com – humn

I can see an argument for building a "logo conflict" check into our process. That might even result in better, more distinct logos. But in this case, that hypothetical process would not have changed the end result.

  • 9
    " I find the discussion on this meta and on Puzzlings meta and in various chat rooms to be highly disrespectful. I'm working hard to look past the disrespectful things said of me and my decision. " Unless the disrespectful comments on this meta have been deleted, I don't see where anyone's been disrespectful here. Perhaps it's other question or just in chat. If not, I think you're being a it thin-skinned, especially for a community manager. I hope this isn't disrespectful too.
    – Chris E
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 20:55
  • 1
    @ChristopherEstep: That's fair. I suspect that nothing on this page would have bothered me without context I gleaned elsewhere. (Well, except the "non-answer" reference edited into the question. I don't think that was meant as a compliment.) Commented May 26, 2016 at 21:01
  • 1
    @JonEricson First off, let me apologise for linking to your answer on Puzzling like that. You are right that it wasn't intended as a compliment and it was entirely inappropriate. I normally make an effort not to insert my personal opinion into meta threads like this and can only blame an incredible lapse in judgement on my part. As I commented over there, the problem I had with your answer there was that you seemed to want to pretend like there is no design conflict.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 8:14
  • You also bring up a suggested improvement to the HNQ sidebar which is definitely interesting but seemed intended to deflect from the actual issue that meta thread raised and I imagine that's why you feel like it doesn't cover our concerns. Now, your answer here is much more nuanced and clearly explains the reasoning behind the decisions. It's what I would have expected to read after your short answer on the other meta instead of a random comparison to other logos that some users have also taken issue with.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 8:14
  • Now, while I shouldn't have linked to your question like that, I don't feel like my or other's comments on the Puzzling thread or here were intended to be disrespectful. The SE commenting format is such that we're limited in length and whenever I go over 2 or 3 comment boxes I start cutting stuff until I'm left with the essential. Maybe that's why curt or strong replies are sometimes taken as more critical than they were intended to be. As for the interactions between the two communities, I disagree. You're right that I personally don't care for the site and probably won't ever visit it.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 8:14
  • Because I'm not sure the concept fits SE I purposefully avoided linking an account until I felt the need to chime in on meta. But that doesn't meant that I can't respect their community, the fact that their users put in a lot of work to get that site through Area51 and beta, or that a good chunck of the SE community supports the site. Most of us here are not part of their community and no one wants to tell them what to do or what their logo should be but I feel we deserve the right to comment on issues that impact our own site or join a discussion on site-wide procedures.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 8:14
  • 1
    @JonEricson Disrespect doesn't belong anywhere, but an honest critique as an avid user of both sites: I really don't understand what the Puzzling icon has to do with puzzles. Really!
    – corsiKa
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:16
  • 7
    Finally, I feel The Workplace community has been fairly dismissive of the Puzzling community. Instead, I'd like to point out that a number of users from this site have gone over to Puzzling's meta to tell them what their logo should be. <-- citation needed?
    – enderland
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:45
  • 5
    Also, rereading your answer, I really do not understand where you are coming from with the second half of your post here. I get the feeling it is really written in a way to say "enderland's opinions => Workplace community" more than anything else - if your feelings driving your second half of this answer are primarily the result of me, edit my name in this answer directly. I do not particularly appreciate seeing the passive aggressive way you are throwing everyone here under the bus as being a disrespectful and dismissive as a community, backed only with vague statements and generalizations.
    – enderland
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 14:52
  • 2
    Can I suggest that the various involved parties here de-escalate? @enderland, your last comment says to me that you're worked up over this; take a while away from the computer if you need to. Jon, can I suggest that (if possible) you hand this to another community manager? You're also very involved here and now that you feel it's personal, there's quite a chance that you could inadvertently let that cloud your otherwise clear judgement.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 16:00
  • 1
    Just for the record, my prompt at Meta Puzzling, to "check out the color-bordered diamond of workplace.stackexchange.com," was a failed signal flare to help ward off this icon conflation, feebly following other sentiments accurately represented here. Seems like it would be so easy to alter the Puzzling logo to one, such as a proposed triangle, that does full justice to the present commendable design.
    – lauir
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 19:12

Personally, I stand by the opinion that we were here first, so we are not the ones who need to change.

As enderland pointed out in the comments, there is already a discussion started at the Puzzling Meta, and I very much like the proposed solution.

Puzzling's new favicon is too similar to Workplace's favicon

I like our logo and design, and I don't see any reason for us to take the time and effort to change it. The Puzzling Site Design was just released, so I imagine they are still in the process of making changes and updates. We would have to start an entirely new re-design process. The only thing I could see the Workplace doing to resolve this issue is to have our mods talk to the Puzzling mods and encourage them to pick a new favicon.

  • 8
    Also note that puzzling seems to prefer their logo changes anyways given their meta discussion - it seems everyone wants their logo to change (including them).
    – enderland
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 22:55
  • 2
    As someone who's never asked a question or answered any question on either site, I found the Puzzling SE logo to be low contrast and rather indistinct in the sidebar. Even if the full size logo is distinct and understandable, it's often the smallest logos that get my attention when I looking at the sidebar. At a bare minimum, I think it needs stronger contrast that's visible at the smallest size presented.
    – Booga Roo
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 10:40
  • And of course, the extra contrast is added in less than 24 hours after my comment... guess I wasn't the only one asking for more contrast!
    – Booga Roo
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 16:11

Personally I don't have anny issue with them being similar, but I am colorblind and I think any blue-red Colorblind would agree that there is no difference.

Since this new favicon has gone live, I must have attempted to flag qeustions off Topic a couple of hundred times thinking I was on workplace, while I was actually on puzzling.

So about 5%~ of the world population has a form of colorblind (on the record 3). About 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women.

I am not really asking for Change since I can live with it, but if possible add this point to the list.


  • 1
    Thanks for this information. Would adding light color to the background of one of them like I proposed here help you, or does that just wash out for you? Commented May 27, 2016 at 13:59
  • grayscale looks like this: i.sstatic.net/UEbh4.png
    – gnat
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 16:12
  • You depend on a favicon to remind you which site you are on (rather than the URL for example, or the rather large "THE WORKPLACE" title near the top of each page)? Commented May 28, 2016 at 2:15
  • @gnat your grayscale is darker then the regular favicon is for me. Commented May 30, 2016 at 8:45
  • that's possible; I simply converted color images to grayscale using gimp tool
    – gnat
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 8:47
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere well when you jump from Workshop to puzzling useing the hnq yes, 90% of the designs of se washes out for me and headers in General don't Pop out for me. Commented May 30, 2016 at 11:15
  • @MonicaCellio well honestly the other suggestions made on the puzzling meta would help. my mind just jumps to Workshop and for others it might be the otherway around. It is quite puzzling how the logo represents them. (joke not intended) Commented May 30, 2016 at 11:25

They only look superficially similar to me. I see no need to change ours anyway, but it wouldn't bother me if you guys decided to, it's just an icon. But I reckon let Puzzling deal with it, they're already discussing it.


The logos don't bother me; even at HNQ size they seem clearly different to me. Granted, at that size I'm only getting coarse shape and color; "diamondy smudge with blue and red" is different from "diamondy smudge with orange and green". For me, that's enough. I hope somebody can verify that they remain sufficiently different for the color-blind.

But some people are concerned about this, so maybe a simple change can add more difference without making anybody change logos: include the background color in Puzzling's mini-logo. Instead of just the diamondy smudge with orange and green, how about a diamondy smudge with orange and green and ligher-green background, like this:


Does that solve the problem? Is that in keeping with Puzzling's design?

(You might want to put a darker outline around that. Or not, I don't know -- you don't want me making decisions like that.)

This should be brought up over on Puzzling before proceeding, but since (a) the concern is coming from Workplace and (b) I'm not active on Puzzling, I'm mentioning it here.


Personally I don't think the issue should annoy us. I am the worst-sighted person in the office (biologically) and have no issue by confounding the icons. Also I perceive the difference between both icons (I don't understand the WP one but the other one seems like those impossible optical illusions).

Additionally, before having these icons most sites have default icons with white letters over blue backgrounds, and that didn't kill anyone.

What I think is that we should not take this matter so seriously... in this case.

  • 4
    Keep in mind that those sites have those icons because they haven't graduated yet, which is when they get their own design. And while those icons aren't great visually, you can actually tell them apart much easier. And remember, you're on meta where everything is deadly serious. :)
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 6:16

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