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Introduction and overview


The integration libraries and documentation for Yat are still in Alpha. They are not yet feature complete, and there are likely bugs in the implementation.

What are Yats and Emoji Id?#

Emoji id is a key-value lookup system that allows individuals, organizations, or entities to unify their presence on the internet.

Emoji ids connect keys (the yat) to data (URLs, social media handles, payment addresses and more) that have been associated with that key by the keyโ€™s owner, or in some cases by an authorised proxy.

The yat consists of a string of one to six emoji that the user can personalise to tell a story about their identity, lifestyle, or brand.


  • Emoji id - An emoji id (also known as a yat, or eid) is a 1-5 character string of emoji that users can own and associate data with in a public lookup repository.

  • Yat - A synonymn for an emoji id. Strictly speaking, Yat is the brand name and emoji id is the technical term, but they can be used interchangeably.

  • Emoji id record - A piece of data, such as a URL, social media handle, or payment address that is associated with an emoji id.

  • Emoji id category - Emoji id record types are grouped into categories to aid data management and record discovery. Examples include cryptocurrency addresses, web properties, DNS records, location data.

  • Emoji id tag - Emoji id categories are subdivided into specific data types that have specific data formats, represented by their category tag. Examples include Bitcoin addresses, DNS 'A' records, web URLs and Lat-Long coordinates.

  • Canonical format - The unambiguous, official representation of a yat. Typically, any visual modifiers, such as skin tone have been stripped from the yat in the canonical representation. See Emoji id formats for further discussion.

  • Display format - The yat format including any modifiers chosen by the owner. See Emoji id formats for further discussion.

Emoji id records#

Any number of data types can be associated with a yat.

Yat records are grouped into categories for simpler classification. This list may grow over time, but for now, the categories are:

  • Website URLs
  • Social media handles
  • Cryptocurrency payment addresses
  • Payment rail handles
  • Location data
  • Email addresses
  • Domain Name System (DNS) fields
  • Arbitrary text data

Each category is be further divided into precise category fields. For example, there are record tags in the cryptocurrency category for Bitcoin addresses, Monero addresses, Tari addresses, Ethereum addresses and so on.

Emoji id formats#

The Unicode specification allows for various modifiers to be applied to emoji to change their appearance. Examples include gender, hair colour, skin tone and more are added with every emoji set release.

Some of these modified emoji are very subtle, and cannot be easily differentiated in isolation, (compare ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿพ, and ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿฝ) and so for that reason, Emoji id cannot include modifiers beyond a strict set of rules.

Besides skin tones, which do not affect the glyph icon and therefore can be managed, the current set of yats do not include any emoji that accept modifiers, including gender modifiers.

The designated emoji modifier, 0xFE0F, is a modifier for an existing unicode character that looks like an emoji, but is really just a character in a font set. The modifiers tell renderers to use the emoji glyph for the preceding character rather than the 'webding' or standard Unicode character. An example is the sun emoji (0x2600 0xFE0F), or โ˜€, vs โ˜€๏ธ.

When a user claims a yat, the yat is converted into canonical format. The canonical format is an unambiguous representation of a yat and is used as the key in the emoji id key-value lookup database. Yat are converted to canonical format by

  • Removing all modifiers from every emoji character, except for 0xFE0f in some cases.
  • Converting emoji into their "fully qualified" representation. This entails adding the 0xFE0F modifier in cases where it has been specified in the Unicode specification, and removing it where it has not.

See the Unicode specification for the complete list.

When users claim a yat, any skin tone modifiers they used in the purchase flow will be remembered and associated with that character and yat. Anytime the yat is requested for display purposes, as opposed to lookup purposes, the skin tone modifier will be injected back into the yat, and the user will see the yat he or she expects.

When taking a yat as input into an API call, the yat will be automatically converted to canonical form. Therefore, lookups for ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿพ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿพ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿพ and ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿฝ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿฝ๐ŸคŸ๐Ÿฝ will resolve to the same canonical yat (๐ŸคŸ๐ŸคŸ๐ŸคŸ).

When yats are returned from endpoints, the display format will usually be returned, but the endpoint documentation will provide clarification where necessary.

Emoji selection guidelines#

We would have loved to have allowed any emoji to be used in your yat. But it was necessary to exclude many emoji from the official list to protect users from both unintentional and malicious confusion amongst similar-looking yats.

We considered many aspects of the user experience and deliberated at length of such issues as inclusivity, adoption levels, confusion amongst similar looking emoji, colour blindness and cultural specifics. A set of guidelines emerged from these conversations that are used to determine whether a particular emoji is included into the Yat set or not.

Unicode 8 and lower only#

Android 6.0.1+ supports Unicode 8, which means all the selected emoji will render for ~97%+ of users.

Look an animal in the face, don't judge it by its body#

Most animals come in both a face version (e.g. dog face), and a full body version (e.g. dog body). Since the body versions are generally very tiny and easy to mix up with one another, and are not as frequently used as the face emoji, we've decided to only include animal face emoji (except in cases where ONLY a full body is available and so there's no ambiguity).

If you're on the fence, exclude it#

We erred on the side of conservatism. It is easy to add emoji to the supported set anytime, but we can never remove emoji from the set.

For identical emoji in different colors, select one color#

10% of men are colorblind so color is a phishing attack vector. For example, we included โค๏ธ. So we should exclude other colors like ๐Ÿ’™ and ๐Ÿ’œ.

We also need to assume some people will do a poor job describing emoji, and may just say "heart" instead of "purple heart", for example, which could cause confusion for the listener.

We can't prevent that, but if we restrict the set to just one color, accidental input of any other color will return an error message, which is not ideal, but is far preferable to sending money, a message, etc. to the wrong person.

For groups of similar LOOKING, or similarly DESCRIBED emoji, pick one or none#

This guideline reduces ambiguity in the emoji set. We considered not just the visual similarity of the entire group, but how users may describe them and which are used more frequently in other apps (if relevant).

Not including any emoji from the group provides the best user experience in the sense that it constrains the user to emoji that are less susceptible to user confusion, frustration, and error. For example, if someone tells you "globe" you're probably going to feel frustrated when you see there are 3 globes in your keyboard ๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ and even more frustrated when you don't guess the right one and get an error, because you only have a 1 in 3 chance of getting it right the first time.

Thinking about attacks#

Many attacks (e.g. Nigerian Prince emails) are completely obvious to the majority of individuals, but are still effective if just a few people fall for them. Put yourself in the mind of an attacker. Many mix-ups, of course, will not be due to attacks but innocent human error, but with Yat those mix-ups could lead to real money being sent to the wrong person.

Some factors we consider:

  • Many people get their left and right mixed up, so directional emoji (arrows, pointing fingers) could be easily mixed up with one another and therefore have been excluded.
  • Some emoji look completely different but would be described the same way, for example diamond (the gem) and diamond (the card suit), which creates ambiguity.
  • Some emoji are more difficult to describe and people may have wildly different understandings of the description, e.g. the devil vs. the red ogre thing, so it's best to pick either one or none of those.
  • We shouldn't include more than 1 of any emoji that can be both singular or plural. For example, the single sword vs. crossed swords, because if someone tells you "swords" you may just hear "sword" and select the single sword when you see it on the keyboard.

Gendered emoji#

The Yat emoji set does not support any gender-modifiable emoji. This is purely a technical decision to minimise ambiguity and confusion among users.

Android has a dark and sordid history around their handling of emoji genders. As it stands, most users are still on an OS version that either supports ONLY male/female emoji (no gender-neutral), or only gender-neutral emoji (no male/female).

Older versions of Android simply do not promote inclusivity, which by its modern day definition includes both binary and non-binary gender identities, and Yat would inherit those constraints.

For example, some 55% of Android users are still on 7/8/9, which do not support gender-neutral emoji, and there are still a significant number of users on Android 6, which do not support male/female emoji.

For example, on an Android 6 device, only the gender-neutral Person Walking is supported -- not Man Walking, not Woman Walking. Then, on Android 7/8/9, they removed the gender-neutral emoji altogether, so only Man Walking and Woman Walking were supported, but not Person Walking.

Android 7/8/9 behave much like Telegram does when faced with a gender-neutral emoji; it modifies it unilaterally it by appending one of the two gender modifiers.

But with Android 10+, all three gender identities (person, male, female walking) are supported, along with a bunch of new gender-neutral emoji that were only previously available in gendered flavors on 7/8/9 (and not at all on 6).

The UI patterns are not consistent either across OSes or platforms. New Android devices treat gender like skintones: long press on a gender-neutral emoji to see the gender options for it. Unlike Android, iOS always shows all 3 genders separately (even if behind the scenes it's the same emoji with a modifier).

Until devices and operating systems handle gendered emoji in a consistent and predictable way, it is much safer to leave all gendered emoji from the Yat list altogether.


The male and female and gender-neutral versions of many emojis look awfully similar. Consider ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ and ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ.

Country Flag emojis have the same problem. Compare ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช, ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ, ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น, ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ and ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท or ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ, ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช and ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช and of course ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ and ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ. It would be unfair to include some country flags and not others, so we leave them all out.

By the way, those flags are for Ireland, Ivory Coast, Italy, Guinea, France, Chad, Belgium, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Could you differentiate them all?