FREAK Shots: Stating the Obvious

Police in England have been criticized for posting signs with obvious messages such as “Caution: water on road during rain,” and “All fuel must be paid for,” according to a BBC report.

The Plain English Campaign, a language watchdog group, claims the signs don’t deter criminals and are an insult to everyone else’s intelligence.

A spokeswoman from the campaign blames branding and “the obsession companies have with covering themselves” for the obvious messages.

But obvious signs have been around for quite some time, as proven by this photo sent to us by reader Brenda Rathier. It’s from a Canadian WWII museum and was originally posted near a battlefield trench:


Here’s another obvious one from blog reader David Gusaas:


What other painfully obvious signs have you come across?


Any music CD or software CD that says " Do not make illegal copies of this disk."


Top Gear has been on this from early 08. There seems to be a related Flikr group here -

E Olson

I like ones that are incorrect. "This movie has been formatted for your screen" How do they know what kind of TV I have?

"Thank you for not smoking" has a bit of an assumption to it.

But to stay with the spirit of the article, Wide Load signs leave me saying "No kidding"


This isn't a sign, but it was stating the obvious nonetheless. Last week during the bitter cold spell, the local news ran a segment on tips for dealing with cold weather. Suggestions included wearing a hat and going indoors periodically.


McDonalds disclaimer on it's coffee that contents are hot! always seemed a bit obvious, but McDonalds was sued over this and I believed lost over a million Big Macs in court. It would seem many of these signs/warnings are a result of these kinds of lawsuits. So as obvious as they may be I can't blame their existence given our legal system


E Olson in #3:

Until recently, all televisions were the same dimensions and this was different from the dimensions the film was shot in. So movies were re-formatted to fit the standard 4:3 TV screen.


On a set of Christmas lights I bought last year.

"For indoor and outdoor use only."

Um...what else is there?


There's a lot of urban legend behind that 'McDonald's Hot Coffie Lawsuit'. There's a reason why McDs settled out of court for a substantial, but unknown, amount of money.

Eight days in hospital and skin grafts may have had something to do with it.'s_Restaurants

Eric M. Jones

There is a great website on the subject. See:

One lesson that can be gleaned from all these signs is that, "The need to add a sign is a sign of a bad design." This is even true when doors say PUSH or PULL, since the function should be obvious to the user.

In Massachusetts there are many thousands of traffic signs that say, "Right Turn on RED allowed", then there is a small sign below it that says, "After full stop." Bet there is a tale to be told about that.


"Warning: Red Bull does not give you wings"


This might be slightly off topic, but this is probably my favorite sign.... a sign warning about the sign itself:

Kevin P.

The Canadian WWII trench sign might not quite so obvious. It depends on the context. It could be a warning about enemy snipers in the immediate vicinity. A stationary target is easier to hit than a moving target and would therefore attract a sniper to someone standing around.

Seiji Fetter

In São Paulo, Brazil, every building is required, by law, to post the following sign in front of every elevator door:
"Do not enter elevator if it is not stationed on this floor".


I once had a can of cheese-wiz that advised:

For best results remove cap.


Photo of an entrance to one of the parks somewhere in England. "Bill Stickers will be Prosecuted" where someone scrawled "Bill Stickers is Innocent!" ha ha


The smoking sign is only dumb if you haven't lived and worked with French expatriates. They smoke everywhere and during any activity.


I wish I had taken a photo at the Union Club Hotel at Purdue University. Next to the "up" and "down" buttons (next to a guess what?) was a sign saying "Elevator" with clarification, "to other floors."

Joe D

I once took a photo of a road that simply *ended*, but had a stop sign posted dead center at the end of the road. I also remember stop signs affixed to the chain link fence across the (elevated) West Side Highway where big chunks were being replaced in the early '70s.


My wife had one of those "sunshades" that you put in your car windshield when you're parked to keep you car relatively cool. The inside of it said, "Remove before driving."

Dan S

Here's a website, not of OBVIOUS signs, but it includes many that are obvious, if nastily-intended: