As designed Overlapping short codes for emojis/smileys stop working when all smileys are deleted


Well-known member
Affected version
The following short codes should resolve to emojis per convention established by messaging apps etc:


However, if you disable smileys in XenForo and delete all of them in the admin panel, these short codes stop working, even for newly written posts. They remain punctuation marks.

Please make these and other common short codes resolve to corresponding emojis when smileys are not present in XenForo.
We don't consider this to be a bug - there is no particular standard for whether or not to parse ASCII smilies in the same way as emoji short codes.

We're very much more concentrated on moving away from the ASCII type now to the short code.

I notice from one of your other posts that for some reason your smilies and the emojis are different sizes. This shouldn't be the case, by default.

This is a smilie:

This is the slight_smile emoji:

They are the same size and ultimately the same graphic though loaded from different sources.

The reason why smilies are still significant and will likely remain in the software (probably forever) is because smilies allow people to add custom graphics that you do not get as emojis.

There is some overlap by default, but just because our default smilie graphics happen to use the same graphic set as the emoji graphics we use doesn't mean that has to be the case for everyone.

Indeed since XF 2.1 we've actually included an alternate set of smilie graphics that can be used if one so desires which have a more classic look (they are the smilies we used in XF 1.5) and distinguish themselves from emojis.


So, for your particular issue I'd recommend either keeping those smilies around and addressing the fact that the smilie version looks different to the emoji version, or use a tool to replace the post content from :) to the actual emoji character 🙂 (we do not actually store the message with the short code, we store the raw emoji) or if you simply want to keep them rendering but without the user being able to still see them in the editor then rather than deleting them, you want to just uncheck this option:


Hi Chris!


I love the XenForo smiley set to death. It's adorable and nostalgic, but I firmly believe that we are on the wrong side of history here. Us older people remember when smileys were first implemented in vBulletin and other forum software as a graphic version of emoticons (i.e. ASCII smileys). At the time that was refreshing and even groundbreaking. Eventually custom smileys started appearing that did not correspond to existing ASCII. Who can forget these gems?



That was all fun and good, but today, emoji are not just taking over the web, but they have entered the vernacular of all computer-literate people (which today means all people) and not going anywhere. The younger people feel it more. We feel it less.

As a site owner, teaching your userbase a new set of characters is both an investment and a risk. On the other hand, emojis are universal. People are already using them in their other apps. There are standardization bodies and huge companies invested in keeping them fresh and looking good. New emojis are introduced every few months. Native emoji sets in operating systems WILL improve and will look soon look better than pre-rendered ones.

I can understand having a few special smileys related to the forum's theme. For example, a gaming forum might use game characters and what not (although even that may not be worth the time investment in today's environment). But when an emoji already exists, I believe it absolutely should take over the identical smiley. There is no reason to have two confusingly similar smileys/emoji for 'exploding brain,' 'wagging the finger,' winking etc.

That brings us to short codes. Most messengers convert emoticons like :) and ;) to emoji. Verbal short codes are good for the more complex emoji, but the basic wink and smile will probably retain their meaning for eternity. I believe forum admins who choose their sites to be smiley-free should have the ability to have these convert to emoji, like most apps and websites already do.

I realize this was filed under bugs, but this is perhaps more of a "please take another look at smiley/emojis and the way people today use them."

use a tool to replace the post content from :) to the actual emoji character 🙂

This is a separate question, but what tool should one use to convert an existing forum database from smiley to emoji? Running raw queries seems a dangerous because so many false positives might be triggered.
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