"Steal These Buttons" originated out of Antipixel all the way back on the 22nd of August 2002, that's almost 2 years ago!
What are "Steal These Buttons" exactly... well their original purpose was tiny banners (80px*15px) advertising certain web technologies used on a website, such as following the W3C standards and the use of more specifics such as XML or RSS. The main two buttons are the HTML and CSS which were created as an alternative to the horrible original buttons provided by the W3C.
Below are the two original buttons from the W3C validators and the "Steal These Buttons" from Antipixel.
The W3C buttons look large and bulky whereas the others two are slim, well styled and unobtrusive. These two buttons are common across a lot of websites that are trying to be standards compliant, especially blogs and personal sites.
Head over to Raging Platypus to see a load of different buttons that have sprung up from the few originals. As you can see it's got kind of "out of hand"! Eric Meyer even made some text equivalent versions of the "Steal These Buttons" images.
George Taylor McKnight has thousands of "Steal These Buttons" for a loads of different categories, luckily they're all in sections for easy searching! It think the figure so far is 2604... which is quite a lot!
If you haven't found what you're looking for out of that lot then there tools to create your own. Bill Zeller has all the information on creating your own buttons manually but Adam Kalsey has created an online script where you can define colours and text for creating your own personal buttons easily.
Today I found an extreme version of these supposedly small buttons...
Have the "Steal These Buttons" badges reached a new extreme?