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GitHub uses emoji shortcodes for emoji insertion which replace the code with the native emoji character after entering.

Eg: typing :heart_eyes: replaces this string with the ๐Ÿ˜ Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes emoji. Some emojis have multiple shortcodes on Github, such as ๐Ÿ’ฉ Pile of Poo which can be inserted using :poop: :shit: or :hankey: interchangably.

Emoji shortcodes are not standardized across platforms. For example, codes from Github sometimes differ from those used on Slack.

Codes exist for emotes (non-Unicode emoji characters) which are inserted using image-replacement characters. A number of these use graphics of Doomguy from the 1993 video game Doom.

Custom emojis / emotes supported on GitHub are::

:bowtie: bowtie
:neckbeard: neckbeard
:octocat: octocat
:shipit: shipit
:trollface: trollface