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Google Sneeze: Favicon Controversy – Is Anything Sacred?

Published: June 9, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky

Last week Google had the audacity to change their “favicon” (the icon that shows up next to the name of the Web site at the top of your browser bar) without prior approval from the Google fan base. This arrogant and confrontational move naturally set off an explosion of harsh criticism from Google watchers. Here’s a snippet of the complaints the change wrought:

Danny Sullivan (who usually has far better things to write about) notes on Search Engine Land: “C’mon Big G lovers, tell Google to go back to what worked before. They’re looking for feedback here. That form also lets you submit your own favicon for consideration. I’m disappointed this is a requirement — that you can’t just say, go back to the old one.”

Rusty Brick (again, someone who usually avoids such inaneness) at least was a little self-conscious in writing about this story, but nonetheless blogged away: “Personally, I miss the old one. I wonder if this is a long term change or someone at Google decided to have some fun. Or maybe Google wanted to see if the smallest, most insignificant change can drive up buzz about the company. Heck, Google can hiccup and people will not stop talking about it. Case in point?”

Mashable.com tried to find the controversy in all of this, but seemed to be stretching a bit: “Surely you’ve noticed the company’s shift from a big, brawny capital ‘G’ to a more reserved, accentuated and scripted lowercase ‘g’. How does it suit you? Well? Does it not appeal? Does the move not concern you in the least?”

The Guardian in London chimed in with typical British cynicism: Google changes its favicon, works really hard to find something worse. Google is making feeble excuses for its horrible new favicon.”

And finally, the Google official blog succumbed to pressure, promising a better favicon in the future: “By no means is the one you’re seeing our favicon final; it was a first step to a more
unified set of icons. However, we really value feedback from users and want to hear your ideas that we may have missed. If you have your own notions about the Google favicon, please send them to us.”

Well, at least one good thing has come out of this – I now know what a favicon is.

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