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See Manual of Style for some general guidelines.
Emoticons (otherwise known as Smilies) are a feature of Facepunch. Originally, the emoticon list contained just about all of Something Awful's emoticon list, however sometime in 2011, Garry removed most of them and only kept a handful of the most "frequently used" emotes.  Some of the Something Awful emotes can still be seen in their colon format.
Traditional emoticons (such as :), :( and the sort) can sometimes be seen used around the forums, though it isn't common nowadays. Users who post emoticons such as xD and :3 are normally ridiculed aggressively due to their overusage on the internet, with exceptions to uses of a sarcastic or ironic nature.
In 2015, the Facepunch Custom Emoticon Project was started following a suggestion made by user Snickerdoodle, in which postal encouraged the community to contribute emoticons for the forum, which ended up having the additional purpose of replacing the remaining SA emotes being used. Almost all the Smilies are now ones contributed to the project, with only a select few old ones still remaining, such as :zoid:.
- Wayback Machine - Smilie List [external link]: http://web.archive.org/web/20180315150658/http://www.facepunch.com/misc.php