The smiley image is gone by default.
For longtime (and hardcore) WordPress users, it’s a tiny little line item change, but it’s a big one for WordPress. Maybe this borders on dorkdom (OK, it definitely does), but for years you had to manually remove the smiley face that showed that WordPress Stats was working. It would sit there in the bottom left of your site and even break background colors or make them move up a few pixels and you’d fiddle to try to get rid of it or find the code to remove the smiley or even use a plugin to remove it. In recent times, you could check a box to remove it.
But still, it’s one of those things that you didn’t ask for and you had to turn off by default. I liken it, maybe a little too harshly, to the old book clubs where you had to actively, manually and consciously remember to cancel the book of the month if you didn’t want it. If you did nothing, it would appear at your doorstop and you’d pay for that book. That’s all fine if you wanted the book, but if you didn’t, it was there. Sure, you could probably return it and all that, but it was a hassle.
Now the smiley is off by default. Now we don’t have to do anything to remove it, only to add it if we want it. I know, it’s small, but I see it as an important change in how WordPress is thinking. It’s thinking bigger. It doesn’t need to show the smiley, it doesn’t need to force it, to show who they are. We know now. It’s been long enough. We’re proud WordPress users with or without a smiley. But preferably without and without having to manually be without.