This was raised as one of the topics on the general question dealing with site design.

I'm not sure we have arrived at any sort of consensus. So I'd like to clarify the matters via a separate question.

Are we as a community in agreement with using the BioHazard-like symbol to denote questions in the list that have an accepted answer?

enter image description here

Personally, I dislike it on both design and aesthetic grounds - my favorite design among SE sites for this element is the solid dark block on StackOverflow. The main problems that I see with this one is:

  • The color is too pale and close to background color - hard to clearly distinguish accepted ones at a glance

  • The bulk of the picture is in the center - both obscured by and interefering with - the count of the answers.

  • IMHO, the image is not very pleasing visually. I realize that this isn't actually a biohazard but some Wikkanish design, but I can't help but be reminded of some ID software game with biohazard barrels.

  • 1
    "I realize that this isn't actually a biohazard", (...) really?
    – DavRob60
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 13:09
  • @DavRob60 - ROFLMAO :) Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 18:19
  • I dislike this too, but I'm not sure what to do. Just upvote your post (seems like that says "there is a community consensus")? Post an answer saying that? I don't really have anything to say that you haven't already.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 9:37
  • I'd say upvote+comment are fine unless you have a specific reason I omitted (in which case an answer) Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 10:51
  • 1
    I agree with all points - re biohazard appearance, why not just eliminate the interior circle and separate the three circles slightly, as in the favicon? This would go a long way towards improving the look to my mind.
    – so12311
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 15:29
  • i like it, but i do agree it needs to be darker
    – DForck42
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 17:10
  • I mentioned this question over in the UX.StackExchange.com chatroom. Maybe they can give some suggestions on what we can replace the biohazard with. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 3:22
  • In all the infinite and wonderous worlds of sci fi, how on earth was a real life symbol of warning chosen to indicate a good answer?
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 5:05
  • I do have to disagree with SO having the best "accepted" style though. SO has the least differentiation between accepted and answered but not accepted questions, and totally breaks the convention of all other sites, which is to only add a "background" element over the answer count AFTER an answer has been accepted.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 5:09
  • This is being changed: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/1061/…
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:22

6 Answers 6


I have updated the accepted answer background image on our dev server.

new accepted bg image

new accepted bg image screenshot

I picked the hexagon shapes because they give a scifi vibe. I try to avoid using another fantasy based symbol because the current site design has plenty already. The three hexagons form a "therefore" sign too.

This change will go out in the next prod build.

  • 3
    Thank you kindly! (I'm not sure I agree about the site having plenty of fantasy-based images already, but I think your hexagons are a nice neutral image, and I like the mathematical connection with the "therefore" symbol.)
    – Martha
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 15:49
  • 2
    I think the hexagons look nice, but I also have no issue with the biohazard image. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:01
  • 3
    I like this one better. Simpler, neutral but still a clear differentiation.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:15
  • @Martha it's interesting because during the design process I showed the mockup to many people. Majority of the people thought it was more scifi. I added more fantasy elements. e.g. magic circles in header, the one wing on the girl. At last minute I decided the icons would be based off magic circles as well. Besides the planetscape theme in the header/background and a few header typefaces there are almost no scifi elements.
    – Jin
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:18
  • 1
    @Jin - Mich better, thanks! A minor concern - how would this look with more-than-1-digit answer count? E.g. 27 answers? Would the #s flow over the hexagon edge? Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:35
  • @dvk it will. but I don't think it hinders readability. the idea of a custom background image is simply to indicate this question has an accepted answer.
    – Jin
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 16:54

Just to make the comparison explicit, here's a biohazard symbol:

enter image description here

and here's the "accepted" symbol in the current design:

enter image description here

If there's a difference between them, I'm not seeing it.

I think this is a totally inappropriate use of a symbol whose purpose is to be "used as a warning, so that those potentially exposed to the substances will know to take precautions".

  • 1
    +1 I think it should be changed as well.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 23:43
  • 1
    Zombies are popular in popculture right now. Maybe the biohazard is viewed as a good thing. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 15:59

Another vote against the use of the biohazard symbol.

How about something like the planet Saturn? Or any other ringed planet.

the pepsi planet gets ringed

Points in favour of it:

  • Style it up and you've got a solid middle spot where the numbers would be easily seen against
  • Carries the motif of that planet seen in the site's header
  • Our nod to the Saturn Awards from The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

Saturn photo from chrismeller, Flickr

  • 1
    You could also put a sword through it, perpendicular to the rings, to have some fantasy element.
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 14:35

I would really, and I mean really like to see the accepted symbol changed. As @Martha pointed out, there really is no difference. And I'd prefer to avoid even a monochrome version of it.

The biohazard symbol is a warning. We are supposed to see it and think, "Oh crap! I need to stay away from that!" Using it as a positive symbol not only dilutes its value as a warning symbol, but it also leads to negative reactions when the intent is to create positive reactions.

I've noticed the effort is to stay away from using symbols associated with any copyrighted SF&F works, otherwise I'd say the Starfleet chevron would be easy to use as a symbol. Or maybe an old stylized rocket ship in a circle, giving it a bit of a Flash Gordon feel? I don't think that would be completely out of place with the them and it's a simple symbol, one that won't distract from the numbers placed over it.


How about a monochrome version of this symbol?

Scifi Symbol

Aside from the favicon, it's not being used on the site at all as far as I can tell.

  • 1
    Isn't it used in the background on the top right? Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 22:56
  • @DVK Yes, but it's so big and cropped that I'd consider it a different element.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:20
  • 2
    If you don't mind a designer chipping in here, the fact that it's in the site's banner is all the more reason to echo it in the question list. It ties these two important elements of the site together visually. The biohazard symbol is non-sequitur, and its symbolism is at best a poor fit. Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 4:29

As an icon, and one which is to be used as a background element overlaid with text at that ... it probably shouldn't have a complex design. It would also likely benefit from the effects of simplifying abstraction.

As such might I suggest a simple, and singular crescent moon.

not actually a crescent

Well, more an occluded moon than crescent or gibbous. Bite me.

The simple moon concept also fits very well with the sci-fi aspect of the site.

  • 4
    That's not a moon...
    – SQB
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 12:11

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