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When you think about it, the goal of a sign is pretty basic, isn’t it? We put them up to give us directions, send messages, and warn us about dangers lurking around the corner. But while sometimes they hilariously fail to fulfill their purpose by looking like the most random and absurd announcements ever created, others seem to carry a somewhat threatening aura.

We’re talking about signs that remind us the world is filled with unforeseen hazards that make us want to stop and quickly run the other way. So let us introduce you to the 'Scary Signs' subreddit. This online community with over 379K members has set out on a mission to share pictures of terrifying messages from all over the world "that you don't want to be near".

Some of them are scarier than the danger itself, others are so creepy we can’t help but wonder why they got put up there in the first place. Whatever the case may be, these warnings definitely catch one's attention. Bored Panda has collected some of the most frightening posts from the group, so continue scrolling to check them out for yourself, and let us know what you think about them in the comments!

#1

Scary-Sad, But Comforting To Know You Can Be Safe

Scary-Sad, But Comforting To Know You Can Be Safe

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roxy_eastland avatar
Roxy Eastland
Community Member
2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That's not a scary sign I "don't want to be near" - that's a fantastic sign that we're all glad to see

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    #3

    Oh...ok I Understand

    Oh...ok I Understand

    reddit.com Report

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    ezekielrhymes1 avatar
    JoyfulZebra
    Community Member
    2 years ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Glad to know zoos make sure their animals are taken care of!

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    Since its creation in 2014, the 'Scary Signs' subreddit has amassed more than 379K members who are eager to share the daunting messages they come across in every corner of the world. Nearly every post consists of terrifying or confusing signs that warn us of potential hazards up ahead and uneasy consequences we will face if we refuse to obey.

    While we're used to seeing safety signs and not batting an eye, people on this online community prove that some of them have a slightly threatening nature that everyone should take notice of. After all, most of us are hoping to avoid falling into "the drowning machine", getting attacked by aggressive geese, or encountering a venomous snake that's missing from its exhibit.

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    Yet, there seem to be many factors that can make people disregard even the most frightening messages. Maybe you're an adrenaline junkie looking for new adventures every chance you get. Perhaps you think the sign is scarier than the danger itself. I mean, it's better to be safe than sorry, but who really wants to be told to watch out for falling deer? How often does that really happen?

    Marc Green, Ph.D., is a human factor expert who has extensive experience in perception, attention, human factors, and related areas. According to him, warning signs often fail to change people's behavior. They can either go unnoticed or, more often than not, they are seen but ignored by the viewer. "For many years, designers focused their concern on sensory aspects of warnings: color, shape, location, pictures vs. text, size and so on. However, recent research suggests that effective warning design depends as much on the contents of the viewer's head as on the contents of the warning's message," he explained.

    #7

    Trailhead In Tennessee

    Trailhead In Tennessee

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    melloncollie avatar
    MellonCollie
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Well, this is a great sign. I have encountered a few similar sign in Australia, and I find them rather helpful.

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    #8

    Don’t Do Meth

    Don’t Do Meth

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    You see, when people stumble upon alarming messages, they then have to make a decision whether or not to comply. But let's not forget that people who are the intended audience of these signs are not blank slates. They rather start with a thought process containing three components: "First, the viewer has general knowledge about the world and how it works. Second, s/he has a set of beliefs and expectations based on experience with the same or similar environment, product or technology."

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    "Lastly, the viewer enters the situation with a goal and strategy for achieving that goal," Green continued. "The goal can be specific ('I want to arrive at my destination as soon as possible') or more diffuse ('I want to feel good about myself')." So to create an effective warning sign, the designer must understand what the observer "brings to the table".

    #11

    Percy Preist Lake In Nashville, Tn

    Percy Preist Lake In Nashville, Tn

    aea27 Report

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    jaynekyra avatar
    Jayne Kyra
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    See? They drowned even if they wore lifejackets! Why should people wear masks/seatbelts/get vaccinated/wear protective gear/etc when you can still die!? /sarcasm, if that was not obvious

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    As viewers, we’re aware that safety signs are placed there for our own benefit. Their purpose is to draw our attention to important information that might prevent us from doing harm to ourselves or the people around us. Unfortunately, sometimes they are less likely to be effective when they are placed in the wrong area or use vague messaging. This could lead to tragic accidents, so it’s always best to make sure the sign will be crystal clear to virtually anyone.

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    #14

    Something About This Unsettles Me

    Something About This Unsettles Me

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    #15

    Straight To The Point, Don't Become Soup

    Straight To The Point, Don't Become Soup

    MrBoko1234 Report

    However, even when signs are compelling and tick every box on the list, we humans have a tendency to overlook them. Green explained that when a warning tells us to refrain from behavior that would enable us to quickly achieve our goal, we then make a cost-benefit analysis. "In some cases, the viewer might lose the goal altogether ('No Smoking' signs), or exert more effort ('Detour' signs)," he mentioned some examples of the cost.

    When it comes to benefits, they can be practical (like injury avoidance), and psychological. "A driver deciding whether to comply with a speed limit sign might calculate the costs of arriving later," he added. But one benefit of compliance is feeling safe and less anxious, like thinking "I won't be as likely to get in an accident," or "I won't have to spend time and effort looking for a radar trap." Other psychological advantages could be the sense of being "a good citizen" or "a team player," Green argued.

    #16

    19th Century Japanese Tsunami Warnings. This One Reads: “Remember The Calamity Of The Great Tsunamis. Do Not Build Any Homes Below This Point”

    19th Century Japanese Tsunami Warnings. This One Reads: “Remember The Calamity Of The Great Tsunamis. Do Not Build Any Homes Below This Point”

    FallenAngel1919 Report

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    rabbitcarrot avatar
    Rabbit Carrot
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    And they still built below that point. I was watching a Geographics video and most of the people who died in the 2011 tsunami were in buildings situated below the tsunami warning points.

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    #17

    Fight Back

    Fight Back

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    #18

    Road Sign I Found In Texas

    Road Sign I Found In Texas

    reddit.com Report

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    rabbitcarrot avatar
    Rabbit Carrot
    Community Member
    2 years ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Reminds me of the time a colleague stopped for a hitchhiker. A couple of miles down the road she accidentally ran over something (squirrel I think). Hitchhiker went to have a look. While he was out of the car she decided to have a look in his bag as she felt uneasy. He had a knife and rope in there. She yeeted out of there so fast. She was traumatised for a long time afterwards. But what a lucky escape.

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    Another factor that affects how we see the size of the benefits is the perception of danger, which has two elements — hazard and risk. The viewer of the warning sign must take them into account when making the calculation. "If the person believes that there is great danger, then s/he will see a larger benefit in compliance. Conversely, perception of small danger means low benefit and compliance will decrease," he explained.

    #21

    At A Nearby Wolf Sanctuary

    At A Nearby Wolf Sanctuary

    Gymnos84 Report

    Lastly, our personal, social, and cultural backgrounds also affect our decision-making. Green explained that even when two people make the same cost-benefit analysis, they could go two different ways — one might ignore the sign while the other doesn't. "People accept different danger levels, have different attitudes about their ability to control danger and are differentially affected by social and cultural norms," the expert added.

    So for warning signs to be persuasive, designers should focus more on the psychological factor. Sure, the bright glaring colors and terrifying symbols catch our attention and might stop us from falling into dangerous threats, but harmony between human behavior and design would reduce accidents even further.

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    #23

    Just Another Day In Alaska

    Just Another Day In Alaska

    electronicthesarus Report

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    rabbitcarrot avatar
    Rabbit Carrot
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Just think if people closed their bins properly and didn’t litter (or encroach on bears habitats) then they wouldn’t come looking for food in houses / public spaces.

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    #24

    "The Drowning Machine"

    "The Drowning Machine"

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    #25

    Uh Oh. Keep Out Of The Danger Noodle Room

    Uh Oh. Keep Out Of The Danger Noodle Room

    lilblondezombie Report

    #27

    Bush Fire Rating Signs All Over Australia

    Bush Fire Rating Signs All Over Australia

    OneKidneyStan Report

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    #31

    The School Lockdown Song

    The School Lockdown Song

    OG3XOG Report

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    avgeyr_1 avatar
    Yayheterogeneity
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Worst sign ever. Nothing like a funny shooters song 🙈 for the little ones. Awful.

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    #32

    How Fast Is It Going To Move?

    How Fast Is It Going To Move?

    nate-2898 Report

    #33

    This Got Dark Real Quick

    This Got Dark Real Quick

    shadowclient Report

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    roxy_eastland avatar
    Roxy Eastland
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Common all around the UK for a while. Now, probably prompted by research findings, we have signs written by children, with childish drawings, that say 'Twenty is Plenty'.

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    #35

    You Get The Gist, Even Without A Word Of Swedish

    You Get The Gist, Even Without A Word Of Swedish

    abaganoush Report

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    #38

    At My Apartment Complex

    At My Apartment Complex

    protokitty Report

    #40

    Apartheid-Era Sign Near Johannesburg, South Africa (1953)

    Apartheid-Era Sign Near Johannesburg, South Africa (1953)

    theradRussian3 Report

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    roxy_eastland avatar
    Roxy Eastland
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    I had the misfortune when I was young to have a brief conversation with a white "Rhodesian" (young man) and yes, attitudes really were that vile.

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    #43

    Careful When Skiing

    Careful When Skiing

    thetoastmonster Report

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    Vorknkx
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    We've had many cases like this in my coiuntry. Reckless young skiers who thought it wouldn't happen to them... until it did.

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    #45

    Slowly Puts Shovel Back In Trunk

    Slowly Puts Shovel Back In Trunk

    sights_of_the_sun Report

    #46

    Ok, Let's Just Go To The Public Pool?

    Ok, Let's Just Go To The Public Pool?

    Indeeder66soums Report

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    Chinmayee Kalghatgi
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Water somehow always enters my nose while swimming. I’d avoid this pool no matter what

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    #47

    No Worries, 3 Layers Of Glass Still Remain To Protect You From The King Of The Jungle!

    No Worries, 3 Layers Of Glass Still Remain To Protect You From The King Of The Jungle!

    Tails_RulesTheWorld Report

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    rabbitcarrot avatar
    Rabbit Carrot
    Community Member
    2 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

    Yeah but how did it break? Accidental damage or was the lion testing the fence like a Dino in Jurassic Park. If those lions are looking to escape we need to know!

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    #48

    Cute Cartoons Don’t Make Creepy Messages Better

    Cute Cartoons Don’t Make Creepy Messages Better

    jakeairforce Report

    #49

    “Holy Water Removed Temporarily”

    “Holy Water Removed Temporarily”

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    #50

    Saw This Walking Through My University After Hours

    Saw This Walking Through My University After Hours

    ketchupcostsextra Report

    Note: this post originally had 107 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.