On the first day of the graduation, the badge icon was a key:

enter image description here

(source of image: Puzzling Design Pitch - Congratulations, you're graduating!)

But I logged on to Puzzling today and I happened to notice it was a puzzle piece, as you can see in the Puzzling sprite sheet:

Puzzle piece in Puzzling Sprite Sheet

(source of sprite sheet: http://cdn.sstatic.net/Sites/puzzling/img/sprites.png)

Why was the key badge icon changed to a puzzle piece?

  • 17
    $\begingroup$ Now it looks vaguely like an apple. $\endgroup$
    – bjb568
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 22:56
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @bjb568 I agree, down with the apple-like puzzle piece! $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2016 at 22:57
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ This suggestion was one of the top answers on the design pitch (note that it has no downvotes). Pawel was kind enough to leave a comment on it. $\endgroup$
    – Will
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 23:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I personally like the puzzle piece. It is more... puzzly than a key. $\endgroup$ Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If they rotated the puzzle piece clockwise a quarter turn it would be like the end of a lever lock key too. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker and apparently it's also more puzzling.. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2016 at 13:56

2 Answers 2


Presumably because of this highly-voted response (40 upvotes) to the original graduation/design announcement on meta:

I do have some concerns about using the keys for badges - keys usually have something to do with security rather than "unlocking" a puzzle.

Jigsaw puzzle pieces, I think, would be a much better badge indicator as it's more intuitive to puzzling and less likely to be confused with some other type of site (lock-picking anyone?).

And the response from an SE designer:

I'm Paweł - designer at Stack Overflow helping Stephane (guy who designed this site) with killing some bugs. Anyway, puzzle seems like a better symbol indeed HOWEVER then one you proposed has very "heavy" shape with lots of details which won't look good on small area (yes, we are kinda limited with size). Nevertheless, I'm gonna update it to other puzzle shape and will test it live for next couple days. Then, we will decided if we want to keep that puzzle OR revert to key symbol.

Note that the post which proposed changing from a key to a puzzle piece still has a lot more upvotes than Solocutor's answer here saying the key was better.


I prefer the key. (I just want to get this off my chest, and this seemed like the most appropriate place to post it.)

  • This site has little or nothing to do with jigsaw puzzles. Yes, they both are described by the word "puzzle," but that actually is an argument against using the puzzle piece. When I see the word "Puzzling" next to a key icon, I think of puzzles like the ones on this site. When I see the word "Puzzling" next to a picture of a puzzle piece, I think that this must be a SE site for people who really enjoy jigsaw puzzles (they exist). Using the puzzle piece as an icon actually adds confusion.
  • As stated before, the current puzzle piece looks like an apple.
  • Accumulating bronze, silver and gold keys is somehow more satisfying than accumulating a bunch of copies of the same corner piece for a puzzle I will never assemble. (This last reason is completely subjective and arbitrary and may be influenced by years playing Zelda games. I stand by it, though.)
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Keys usually have something to do with security rather than "unlocking" a puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – manshu
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 17:24
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @manshu I see what you are saying, but I don't quite agree. A lock or a padlock is more common iconography for security than the key is. The meaning of a key icon in conjunction with puzzles is clear. No one is going to be confused, and we wouldn't be stepping on the Security SE's toes at all. The puzzle piece, on the other hand, can cause confusion, since it is identically associated with a different hobby which happens to be called by the same name. $\endgroup$
    – Solocutor
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 18:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I agree. I think they had it right initially $\endgroup$
    – gannolloy
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Originally I would have preferred the puzzle piece, but due to the size restrictions causeing our apple-like piece and this convincing post, I think I've changed my mind. I think I'd prefer the key over the puzzle piece, as well. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2016 at 12:56
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your feedback! We gonna make a decision (and maybe revert) next week. $\endgroup$
    – Paweł
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 13:23
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ HA off my chest? $\endgroup$
    – bleh
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 0:21
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I tend to agree. To those saying "well, no, keys actually..." -- what keys do is UNLOCK. Most of the puzzles on here do involve some degree of finding the correct way to solve it, i.e. finding the key to unlock a solution. $\endgroup$ Commented May 19, 2016 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but I'm taking your checkmark. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 1:38

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