I'm not in academia anymore, but spend quite a bit of my time reading papers and using the findings as part of my job.
Today I picked up a paper that contained a couple of emoji-type icons in the figures. It was to show which of two conditions was preferred. There's a smiley face next to the desired condition and a sad face next to the undesired one. It's an electrical-engineering/computer-science paper.
It's the first time I remember seeing something like this in a paper and it made me question the quality of what I was reading. I googled a bit and it was presented at an FPGA conference in February this year and is associated with a well-known university in the USA, so it seems reputable.
Perhaps I'm just behind the times. Is this more common than I realise?