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User augustine08282011 has written a number of comments in a weird (unicode?) font that won't display on my mobile device.

I flagged it for a moderator to look at, but the flag was declined.

Bυт coυnт dooĸυ ιѕ a ѕιтн lord . rιgнт? Can ѕoмeone edιт тнaт poѕтer wιтн dooĸυ ιnclυded 🤔

and

Kυтυlυмιĸe, тнen wнy jango ғeтт ιѕ тнere. I тнιnĸ yoυr anѕwer dιd noт ѕaтιѕғy мe. Beιng ғocυѕed on тнe good gυyѕ. Tнaт'ѕ вorιng

I am advised that he has also done so with at least one question


Is it acceptable behaviour to use a ɟouʇ ƃǝuǝɹɐʇoɹ to create ẅ͓͍͕̫̾ͧ̊͑ė̵̜̦̯̝̞̐̓ḯ̥̱̙̈ͧ̀r̜͊̇͗ͪ̍ͮ̒͘d̵ͫͦͤ͛̌̄ͣ ͥ͒͋̎͂̓̀t̷͇̠ͯ͑͋ͣ̈́e͙͙̗̜̦x̢͍̲͐ͣ̚t̖͚̀̚ for questions, answers and comments?

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    Even if it's deemed acceptable, it's ridiculously annoying, and if there was a way to /ignore people on the main site he'd already be on everyone's list. – KutuluMike Aug 13 '16 at 11:13
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    I don't find it particularly annoying yet, but if this text doesn't render on some devices, i.e. using it literally breaks the site, that seems like a pretty good reason to mod-edit it out of existence. – Ixrec Aug 13 '16 at 11:27
  • Are they copying then pasting the text into the comments? – KyloRen Aug 13 '16 at 13:38
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    @KyloRen - I believe they're using some kind of online text editor, then copy/pasting the output into the comment box. – Valorum Aug 13 '16 at 13:45
  • Very annoying , I agree. – KyloRen Aug 13 '16 at 13:46
  • The user in question's comments made it sound as if they have installed a custom Android keyboard. I didn't know such things existed, but it wouldn't be technologically infeasible at all. – curiousdannii Aug 13 '16 at 13:53
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    @curiousdannii - He seems to only use this "keyboard" infrequently, and is apparently capable of typing normally. – Valorum Aug 13 '16 at 13:59
  • A similar incident occurred recently on an answer post, and the same user used the same Unicode font on a question. Would you be open to widening the scope of your question to "Is it acceptable to write posts in unicode fonts?" (or similar wording)? The answers you have so far seem to be general enough for any type of post anyway. – Null Aug 13 '16 at 18:12
  • @Null - Done and done. – Valorum Aug 13 '16 at 18:22
  • Also, here is another recent example by another user. – Wrzlprmft Aug 13 '16 at 22:33
  • Related: Problems with unicode characters for general text has recently been asked on the SuperUser site – Izkata Dec 31 '16 at 21:04
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NO.

Font styles should not be manipulated in any way beyond the tools given to us by Stack Exchange (bold, italic, block quote, preformatted, etc.) or basic html (strike-through, breaks, etc.)

Anything beyond this will most likely cause readability issues, and as you mentioned in the question, may cause it to not display at all.

Creativity and customization are wonderful thing, but for Q&A site, we want to keep styles consistent and easy to view to attract and keep experts. If the content you are posting is of a high quality to begin with you should not need to "spice it up" with these additional style edits.


When these posts are found I see a few ways to handle them:

  1. If the post is a question or answer, you have enough reputation, and knowledge to spot the problem code, you should edit the post to change the "personalized" text to a standard format.
  2. If the post is a comment, you do not have enough reputation or feel you do not have enough knowledge with editing, you should flag the post for moderator attention (IMO, moderators please comment if this is not what we want). You would need to use fifth option that allows you to give a specific reason.

With that being said, a first time offender should be given a warning and a short explanation as to why we do not like this (maybe even a link to this post if you are feeling generous enough).

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    Using the odd unicode letter (☢) certainly isn't a big issue and nor is Zalgo text, when used for occasional comic effect (as I've done in my question). On the other hand, using them for general discourse is annoying as hell. – Valorum Aug 13 '16 at 12:06
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    A single post doesn't really warrant moderator attention (unless it's a comment). Everyone can edit questions and answers, even if they have no rep. I'd say it's only worth flagging if it's become a recurring problem. – Rand al'Thor Aug 14 '16 at 18:11
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    @Randal'Thor - In this instance it was multiple comments. – Valorum Aug 15 '16 at 15:16
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    I agree with @Randal'Thor that a single post doesn't require a flag. The main thing is to warn the user in a comment not to do it and link to this meta discussion. If the user continues despite the warning then by all means flag it. Your advice is very good. I'd only add that users should consider downvoting (if applicable, and not if someone else edited it in) as additional discouragement. – Null Aug 16 '16 at 5:01
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First of all, some relevant nitpicking: This user is not using a different font, but special Unicode characters that are intended for Cyrillic, phonetics, mathematics, and other uses that are not regular (English) text. They render in the site’s standard font if available and some fallback font otherwise. Even if they appear to be from another font, they are just exotic characters.

As with most good standards, you should think twice about deviating from Unicode, in this case using Unicode characters for other purposes than intended. I elaborated these issues here. To summarise, the following will break:

  • Accessibility: Just imagine, e.g., what a screen reader will do with those lines of text.

  • Searchability: You cannot search inside these lines as expected. Some very intelligent searches may allow you to do so, but it usually stops, once you turn on match case or similar (which is a good behaviour, because you cannot have a Unicode-compliant search without this or hundreds of search options). This may also cause you to find these lines if you are searching for something else entirely. (Sorry, but that rare Bulgarian word you wish to learn about just so happens to look like the some frequent English word in small caps.)

  • Portability: Not every machine that is equipped for displaying this site typically has good or well-suited fonts available for these characters.

And these are only the issues I can think of. Experience tells me that deviating from Unicode standards causes at least twice as many problems if you dig deep enough.

So, no, this is not okay. (As for how to deal with those posts, I second Skooba’s answer.)

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    One of the goals of the StackExchange network is to be the top search result in Google. Given this, anything that breaks searching is Very Bad. – Greenstone Walker Aug 18 '16 at 1:17
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I had a somehow related discussion on the main network wide meta site. Here is the link:

Zalgo in user names and effects on comments rendering

As you may see from Mark Gravel comment:

I'm pretty sure this is by-design; until there's actual evidence of a genuine problem (that isn't solved simply by communication), I'm not sure there is anything to fix. If there was a change, I would expect it would relate to our increasing internationalisation

The staff currently prefers to handle such situations manually, since the cost of a full-fledged fix doesn't still seem to be worth for the actual benefit.

That said, this doesn't mean that abuse should be tolerated. While there are some cases where unicode may fit (a comment about Cthulhu written using Zalgo fonts may be funny if done with moderation), one should remember that using unicode harms the site in at least two ways:

  • breaks the site layout (see any Zalgo post for an example )

  • adds noise to search (obviously, you cannot search normally for words that were written using Zalgo or other unicode fonts).

Based on that, I agree with Skooba - abuse should be dealt with, either by editing if possible or by resorting to flagging if no other option is available. Just remember that this is a weird topic with no general agreement, so try to explain your reasoning in the custom flag so it doesn't get dismissed as it already happened to you.


Update:
I just found out that this post on the main Stack Exchange network meta states that:

Abuse of the system or community is everything that is created with the intention to harm them. This includes posts that contain no useful content at all – i.e. gibberish posts along the lines of:

asyuv;laergap897wertp[98 gb;vp98a34

Cats are not allowed to walk across keyboards as part of Stack Exchange posts; this is abuse and should be flagged as such.

Such posts are deemed worth of a rude/abusive flag. By extension, I think that content written with Unicode characters or symbols-based substitutions should be handled in a similar way (BTW, I would wonder how those look like while using one of the available smartphone apps).

  • My smartphone browser app seems to handle zalgo and unicode reasobaby well, but with the occasional "empty square" where it can't decode a symbol. – Valorum Aug 16 '16 at 6:32

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