Placeholder icon pops up whenever I use certain applications

There are many applications, usually GNOME ones, that do not show their icons but use what looks like an error placeholder instead. Reinstalling them does not fix the issue.

Here it is in Newsflash (pretty bad)

You can see it in what should be the "listen" icon on Dialect

And it goes on and on with modern GNOME applications. Is this simply impossible to fix without upgrading the whole DE to a more recent GNOME version?

That image is the "image-missing" icon, which means that icon is not included in your icon set.
We can test this to confirm that is the case... Try switching to an Icon Set that is new and then running the apps to see if an icon shows up.
If it does - you can either continue using the new icon set (if you like it) or, set that icon set as the Fallback icon set in the preferred icon set that you are using. You can do this in the icon set index.theme file under Inherits=
Se the working icon set name as the first icon set after the = sign.

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You seem to be entirely right. When I reset the icon setting to default, these icons worked properly. However, when I edit the index.theme file and change the fallback icon set to the one that contains the appropriate full icon set as before, it still doesn't work even after restarting all relevant apps.

For example, the highcontrast icon set has all the right icons to fix the issue, but when I set it as fallback and save file, it does nothing and keeps the "image-missing" icons.

Is this the icon set you are using?

I have several, most notably Colloid and Fluent Purple Dark

Apart from about 3 others that I have installed on my system, absolutely none of them except for default Zorin and HighContrast actually provide the needed icons.

Those icon sets may need updating by their authors. As a person who also makes Icon Sets, I got a feeling of how that is... My own sets probably need updating by now, too.
I've gotten no reports, though... And it takes reports to get my attention.

Have you tried contacting the authors?

Is there a way to ensure an icon set is up to date without installing it and testing it yourself? Or is it merely a question of checking when the last update was released?

If there is a provided changelog from the maintainer, perhaps.

There is a changelog from 19 hrs ago for Fluent theme saying: "Add some app icons". Is the only way to update the icon set to download it afresh and replace it in the correct folder?

Mine are in a repository, so any updates I upload will be offered alongside any Zorin OS updates you get as long as you have my repo added in your sources list. So, some icon sets may be the same.
But... if you have downloaded a file, then placed them in your ~/.icons manually, then those won't. You would need to download the file and replace.

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How to reinstall default icon theme zorin os 16.2? I accidentally deleted the ZorinOrange-Light icons.

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