As far as I know, ELL (or maybe every site on Stack Exchange) does not allow "chattiness" in comments. But I'm not sure whether the "chattiness" also includes the use of emoji.

Actually, I use emojis very often on this site, because I prefer being friendly rather than being formal. But before I get flagged or criticized, I want to know whether it's fine to use emojis in comment or answer.

  • 4
    As you said, there is a trade-off between friendliness and formalism. I would suggest using emoticons in the chat rooms and perhaps in the comments, but not in the title, question, or answer to serious questions.
    – user 85795
    Apr 6, 2017 at 0:48
  • 1
    One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of ELL members look at the site on their mobile, so any extra text that isn't really related to the question or the answer can make it harder to read, so if you would like to use them I would be careful not to over-use them. Also, old farts like me may not understand exactly what a lot of the emojis convey. I just know smileys ;)
    – ColleenV
    Apr 6, 2017 at 16:02
  • An emoji for a given concept have different images under different ... fonts'. Also, it is very difficult to distinguish some of the more popular emojis and it's hard to remember what the rarer ones are supposed to mean. So they are not likely to be informative. Likewise, except for the handful of most common emoticons are opaque. Sure you can use them in chat but in formal answers probably best to avoid them.
    – Mitch
    Apr 11, 2017 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


First, I think it's important to get some agreed-upon terminology.

When I see the word emojis (which is the word you use in the title of your question), I think of characters such as these:

emoji samples

whereas I use emoticons to refer to text-based caricatures such as these (including the one you have in your title):

:-)     ;^)     :D     :-(     o_O     (°o°)

Because your title uses the word emoji but displays what I would call an emoticon, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking about.

That all said, I can tell you my personal thoughts* about this matter:

  • The use of emojis on the site would be strongly discouraged
  • Emoticons can be used, but they should be used relatively sparingly
  • A good time to use an emoticon would be when it conveys meaningful information about the tone or underlying meaning of a comment (such as "that was said tongue-in-cheek")
  • When compared to other SE sites, emoticons might be especially helpful on ELL because we are perpetually dealing with language barriers (sometimes it might be hard for a non-native speaker to understand something was said in a joking or friendly way)
  • Be careful about using emoticons such as :-P (because some emoticons, such as that one, can be interpreted as disrespectful)
  • For the most part, emoticons are less appropriate in questions and answers than they would be in comments

*Even though I am a mod on this site, these opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the mod team

  • 3
    I have the same personal opinion that that you do. Sparing use of emoticons when they can help illustrate the tone of the text is fine, but I think that, just like excessive punctuation!!??...!!!!???!!. And Excessive Capitalization and Excessive formatting, too much of a fun thing can distract from the main reason we're here, which is to help each other learn English.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 6, 2017 at 19:42
  • 1
    @ColleenV “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
    – Catija
    Apr 6, 2017 at 22:07
  • Actually I'm refering to both, just my keyboard doesn't support the function, so I use smiley instead. I could've included a link to this question but I was afraid RichF would get flagged. Apr 7, 2017 at 1:37
  • I think that’s an appropriate place for an emoticon, because RichF is talking about “ugliness,” and it might not be obvious that he’s using that word good-naturedly. Still, when using an emoji like that one, one always runs the risk that another user will see something like ◻ or � instead of the face, which is why I’ll stick with the guidance I’ve provided in my answer.
    – J.R. Mod
    Apr 7, 2017 at 8:49
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    @:ColleenV, J.R.: It's nice to see both you guys apparently have the same position as me on this one. I think I personally probably use text-based emoticons a bit more often than I should - but on the other hand, there have been occasions where I've simply failed to recognise the tongue-in-cheek nature of a comment, and ended up feeling a bit of a nit. And for reasons I can't begin to articulate, I've always seen :-P as rather "distasteful, unsavoury". Apr 7, 2017 at 18:46

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