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Free icons for any object in the world (thenounproject.com)
323 points by tansey 2324 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

These CC Attribution licenses always scare me off. First off, what the heck does this even mean?

    You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author
The author almost never specifies how they want to be attributed. But since they're using an Attribution license they must want to be attributed some how.

So how am I going to attribute an author if I'm using their icons in a mobile app? That seems like quite a bit of extra work.

I don't want to sound unappreciative, this is an awesome project, but I need a "how to use CC attribution art for dummies".

It's up to the author to specify. For most wikipedia text, you need to link back to the original article or a copy of the article or include a list of the major authors.

On the other hand, StackExchange is more onerous - they require a link to SX, a link to each author, each author's name, links to each author's profile, and a text blurb indicating that the content is from SO. Oh, and no "nofollow" links, or JS tricks - they want the google juice.

You also need to ensure that derivative work is also CC, if there is a -SA clause (which I think is the case for both wikipedia and SX.

It should all be there in the TOS page.

If they author/site doesn't say, just link back to them, and include a short blurb (i.e. "by <username> at <website>". Really, that's likely to be all they want. If they cared about the legalities, they probably include them in the TOS. Or email them, asking for clarification.

For Wikipedia, apparently someone did their homework: the disclaimer under the edit box says "You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license."

SO's insistence on non-obfuscated links doesn't make much sense to me, though. Users retain copyright to the content they submit to SO, so it's them, not SO, who say which attribution they would like. SO could require some sort of attribution to be sufficient (like Wikipedia does), but users are free to say that they accept any sort of attribution besides that, even one which does not credit SO at all.

They actually have a post about that on their blog:


"When using a CC Attribution work created by us, please attribute it to The Noun Project and include a link whenever possible." (the post goes into more detail for CC-BY in general as well)

It's really not that hard.

If author does not specify the details, just add a line saying something like: "Icon (photo, music, whatever) credit: John Doe, www.example.com" to your about page.

If you want to help the author a bit more, especially on the web, link to the specific page and provide a description, e.g.: "[Yellow Monkey Icon] (links to the icon page), (c)/by John Doe, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license". This helps with SEO.

If you're making a derivative work, say so.

At least that's what I suggest for my CC-BY works.

This is certainly the sensible way. But with legal contracts it's not enough to be sensible. The author is supposed to specify. The times I've contacted authors to ask about their desired attribution they've never contacted me back (only about half-a-dozen times now).

Actually, what I really need is a VerbProject. What's the universal symbol for "Invite your friends"? How about "Like"? Web apps are more full of verbs than there are nouns, but we use icons of objects as substitute for verbs. like an envelope for "send mail" and a floppy disk for "save"

This could be incredibly useful when designing highly international sites/apps. Hopefully it will be indexed by the already awesome icon finder

EDIT: Icon finder delivers http://www.iconfinder.com/search/?q=iconset:nounproject http://www.iconfinder.com/search/?q=iconset:nounproject_nps http://www.iconfinder.com/search/?q=iconset:nounproject_cook...

I wish I knew about iconfinder before. Very handy, thanks.

Of course they are indexed :-)

I've been using a few of them lately; they're great. However, I wish they would expand their wonderful noun project to include verbs and adjectives and more. (Yes, it looks like they take the noun part rather serious.)

Sure, there are nouns/icons like running (http://thenounproject.com/noun/running/), but I've had to abandon a number of searches on their site after realizing I'm not searching for a noun!

Small suggestion - don't start searching until the user has stopped typing for a short period (or if you're doing that already, increase the time-out). If I'm typing 'house', I don't need search results for 'h', 'ho', 'hou', etc., and since the site is running slow at the moment, it seems to get a bit confused when multiple result sets come back.

Unfortunately this doesn't help me decide what a "FtrsIndexScanRel" icon should look like. :( I like these, though I'm a bigger fan of the famfamfam icons.

I find the fugue icons more diverse and even cutier than famfamfam's silk icons.

The problem with famfamfam is that they're everywhere. It's very obvious when a site is using them. The consequence is that sites that use them look a little less polished, in my opinion.

I used these before on a travel site - fantastic. Some of the icons are a bit too over-worked (ie. they don't work well small, and they're a little too detailed) but overall, a huge set of icons really well designed. Only issue I had with the site (a while back) was couldn't find a big ZIP download of all icons, or PNG files. Had to go to some other big creepy download site for that. Weird.

You're right. They look beautiful at >100px on a typical display, but many look quite cramped if you try to match their dimensions to the height of your standard paragraph font.

I just tried to embed one of these on a test site. It's really not that useful. The HTML code ends up taking up half a screen.

I'd prefer these icons dumped into a custom font file. Then it takes up literally one character in HTML and can be completely modified using CSS.

really? Because fonts on the web are so much easier to deal with than PNG files?

They come in svg format, which work on most modern browsers as well

Yes, but PNGs will be easier to deal with than SVG and webfonts. I guess SVG give you the flexibility of turning them into high-fidelity versions of whatever you want. I regularly use nounproject SVGs to create 'icons' in Microsoft's vector XAML format.

Sweet UI. Useful and directional app for sure.

Wanted to give you a heads^ that there was some lagging during homepage load and during icon (file) zip: 'noun_project_705.svg' downloading. I'm on MacBook Pro OS X Version 10.6.8 using Chrome (and the apps I am controlling in other Chrome tabs are cruising). Maybe there's some versioning-optimization fixes you could look into - or maybe it's me. I'm running at full wiFi connectivity (and AirPort bars) at the Sandbox Suites near Union. So I thought I'd at least drop you my observation as to see if I could help. Overall though - sleek work, I find comfort when controlling your app.

An impressive suite of icons in a nice minimalist format. But...I guess looking at a large number of these, linguistic expressions seem to be less complex per concept than the iconographic equivalents.

The Easter Eggs are pretty neat (if you can find them). Here's one: http://thenounproject.com/noun/swing/ (Mouse over the thumbnail)

Perhaps you could allow feedback on icons? A number of them don't conjure for me the thing they're supposed to. For example, 'mummy' is definitely not what comes to mind when I see the 'mummy' icon. The icon doesn't really look like anything in particular to me; I find it just gives of a slightly weird vibe. Or the 'golf' icon - the club looks more like a hockey stick to me.

I'm on a laptop with Internet explorer 8 and is getting the message that "Internet explorer does not support the NounProject", and later down on the page "Currently, Internet explorer is the only browser that cannot display the format that is best suited for this site".

Does anyone with access to the site, know what this technology / format is, that IE 8 doesn't support?

The icons are all rendered as vectors using SVG which IE < 9 doesn't understand.

Is this not polyfillable with some add-on? I am sure I read that somewhere.

http://code.google.com/p/svgweb/ is a nice project that implements svg in flash when necessary. it would probably work here.

I see, thanks!

This reminds me of the Isotype project (1924-1934). If it isn't an inspiration it is an nice coincidence.

* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotype_(picture_language)

* Isotype gallery: http://www.gerdarntz.org/isotype

Wow, there's an Isotype for "hiding your erection with a hat": http://www.gerdarntz.org/node/471

Yeah, I love how, for example, http://thenounproject.com/noun/bread/ is basically a vectorisation of http://www.gerdarntz.org/node/255 without acknowledgment.

It's probably a coincidence, I'd say. There are only that many ways to represent a piece of bread.

Isn't this kind of old. It was a kickstarter project several months ago. I thought it was shared here

Yes. It has been on HN several times and it is about 8 months old:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1981370 (239 days ago)





Dupes are very common on HN nowadays, despite some people claiming they're not :-)

Is there a torrent of these icons, maintaing the metadata?

I don't really want to tax their servers at the moment.

The site is REALLY slow right now.

Have you tried viewing the html - there's some neat ASCII art at the top.

I don't really see the point to this. On the plus side, the design is awesome, especially the 404 page:


Thats the standard Tumblr 404 page.

No wonder it's familiar...

Just curious, does this site have a public API? The kickstarter project suggests there is one, but I can't find it on the site.

I was looking for one too...couldn't find one.

No search facility? Really?

Yes, I know you can URL-hack, but a search-engine with stemming would make the site a lot more usable/useful.

The search is on the front page. Where it says search, click it. It's not immediately obvious though


It was interesting to see how strong my expectations are for what a search box looks like that I will simply not see something right in front of me if it breaks the established conventions.

Also: putting it on the front page only doesn't help.

Was hoping verbs would be their next project. Sadly theverbproject.com is just someone's blog/portfolio page.

Is there a way to filter to show only the Public Domain icons without opening each shadow box individually?

Crazy slow loading web site and doesn't work right on an iPad. But a nice idea.

Worked fine for me, once it loaded. Did you scroll with two fingers?

Just tried again. It's brutally slow. I have never scrolled with two fingers before but that worked.

also see the related http://iconathon.org initiative which is a series of icon brainstorming hackathons in a bunch of cities

I'll say it. There's no icon for "penis".

Like Neal Stephenson's mediaglyphs.

been using non-project for a while. One of my favorite sites for basic objects.

I don't find social icons :-(

you might want to look at designmoo.com and http://365psd.com/

Both these sites provide free social icons regularly.

Reverse the triangles in #680 and I would be happy. (hint: triforce.) I was unable to find A BLOODY KEYBOARD.

Also, your polish locale sucks. Use UTF-8 and ask the BROWSER, not determine my LOCALE by IP.

Additionally, you shalln't use ` /' in HTML5.

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