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The initial suggestion and discussion for this concept occurred in January 2007 on the Yiffstar's forums, on a thread entitled "Some discreet way of telling others we're furry." After a general consensus of using a "symbol" as a way to achieve this, an image combining or juxtaposing the Greek letter Phi with a fox pawprint icon (originally suggested by "SalemFuchs") was created and deemed as the most ideal solution.
"Phi" (upper case Φ or <math>\Phi</math>; lower case φ, <math>\phi</math> or <math>\varphi</math>) was selected as it represents both the letter "F" in the modern Greek language ("F"urry,) and the Golden Ratio, which some Yiffstar users perceive is a symbolic metaphor for the equal balance between furries and nature.
As of February 2007, discussions about whether to use this symbol, another symbol or no symbol at all are still ongoing. At the moment, it appears to be approved, however, the general consensus is that the paw-print may be able to reflect a fur's fursona, (ie, a wolf furry could have a wolf paw-print, a dragon could have a dragon clawprint etc.) and the colour can also change (ie. rainbow paw-prints for LGBT furs).
- At such events as conventions and other furry gathering, a pin, clothing, or any other type of gear bearing this symbol could be used as a way to distinguish between attending furs and normal bystanders ("mundanes".)
- In everyday life, it would to allow furs to more easily identify each other without having to decode subtle hints, nor directly asking potentially non-fandom people.
- Alternatively if necessary or desired it might be acceptable to use just a φ, for more discrete usages, like an embroidering on a formal shirt or on a internet forum signature
At present, the symbol most widely used in the furry fandom to distinguish furries is a fox, or other species, paw.
- The "Some discreet way of telling others we're furry" thread on the Yiffstar's forum regarding the Phipaw symbol (login required)
- Voting thread on the Yiffstar's forum to adopt or reject the proposed "identifier" symbol (login required)
- The "Furry Shirt Day (Social Experiment)" thread on FurMorphed's forums where the PhiPaw is used as a possible identifier symbol
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