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The SE engine removes spaces before question marks in question titles. A title such as “Différence entre ‘patte’ et ‘pâte’ ?” gets rewritten without the space before “?”, no matter what I try to do.

This enforces the rules of English typography w.r.t. spaces and punctuation, which is quite different from the French rules. As such, all French questions on FL&U get this weird feeling (and trying to correct it will be silently ignored, i.e. the edit is accepted, but the change is ignored). This happens whether the space is breakable or unbreakable.

I see three things to be fixed:

  • short term: stop doing that for unbreakable spaces. If I decided to put an unbreakable space, I know what I'm doing. Stop changing that behind my back.
  • short term: do not accept and silently ignore such edits
  • longer term: disable that completely for FL&U and other sites that request it. Possibly, even implement a French-specific thing so that “space + question mark” gets converted into “unbreakable space + question mark” (that would be super extra great, but we can live without it)

Some references on French typography: 1, 2, 3, 4, including a summary post on French Language & Usage itself!

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I love the feature of removing the spaces, but I can see how the exact same feature can be annoying as hell when applied to languages with different rules. Pretty much for the same reason I hate " ?" in English language text. –  Joachim Sauer Aug 25 '11 at 9:37
    
By the way: is only replacing breakable spaces really a sufficient workaround for this? That might work on SO and possibly SU, but I wouldn't think that it's a useful solution for any non-techy focused SE sites. –  Joachim Sauer Aug 25 '11 at 11:02
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@Joachim: it's not ideal, but it offers the huge advantage that it doesn't need to be specific to FL&U. It should not hurt anyone on other sites as people don't usually use the unbreakable space, and if they do, as F'x says, then they probably mean it. As for the FL&U, we have the opposite problem that people won't know to use the unbreakable space, but at least the team of editors (and believe me it's like editopolis over there) can fix the question in the interim. So yes, as a short-term measure, it would help. And it wouldn't hurt anyway. –  Joubarc Aug 25 '11 at 12:19
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I'd say your chances of getting this done would be improved by providing a source for the French rules of typography. –  AakashM Aug 25 '11 at 12:46
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The standpoint of its necessity of allowing this on the French site makes sense. –  Grace Note Aug 25 '11 at 13:10
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@AakashM: Visit any page on the French wikipedia and look out for question marks. You'll always see a space in front. –  Hendrik Vogt Aug 25 '11 at 13:36
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I found this source among others: revues.refer.org/telechargement/fiche-typographie.pdf The best reference would be the "Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale" however it's not available online. –  this.lau_ Aug 25 '11 at 13:38
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I should probably not have laughed out loud, bitterly, at this. –  Shog9 Aug 25 '11 at 14:15
    
FX, you didn't include this as a reference. Shame on you! –  Benjol Aug 26 '11 at 6:45
    
@FX : C'est « A title », pas « an title ». :) –  Brennan Vincent Aug 30 '11 at 5:04
    
Does this affect uses of the ternary ?: operator, as in x ? y : z, or does it apply only at the end of the title? –  Keith Thompson Jun 9 '12 at 18:07

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is a setting that will be disabled for http://french.stackexchange.com/ after the next build.

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what about other sites? –  Ashu May 12 '12 at 14:01
    
@Ashu which other sites would need this feature specific to the french language? –  Pëkka Jun 9 '12 at 21:50

Simply disabling that autocorrection for the French SE should solve the problem.

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