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Here's the screenshot of my experience with italic text over Stack Overflow.

screenshot

Basically it just wraps the word into asterisks and leaves it like this. Here on Meta I do not observe this bug.

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It's because underscore _ also delimits italic. _italic_ -> italic –  ChrisF Jan 21 '12 at 13:51
    
As a workaround for @Chris' comment: use *unique\_names* or _unique\_names_ instead. (So: escape using a backslash.) I wonder if this is expected behavior though! –  Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 13:57
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*unique\_names* -> unique_names (just to prove it works) –  ChrisF Jan 21 '12 at 13:58
    
For me, it's the same on Meta. –  Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 13:59
    
Are you sure about your "Here on Meta I do not observe this bug"? –  Arjan Jan 22 '12 at 15:43

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

As ChrisF said, the problem is the underscore. _ is a control character, and control characters might behave differently from what you expect.

Just escape the underscore (\_) and it will work:

*unique\_names*

results in

unique_names

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Still, I wonder if this is expected. On SE sites, emphasis within a word (intra-word emphasis) is explicitly disabled, to avoid emphasis of dear in hello_dear_world. That said, maybe the expected behavior is that asterisks and underscores in words are totally ignored, and escaping would not be needed? –  Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 14:04
    
The current behavior is certainly not what I would expect. For starters, *_* results in an italic underscore. –  sudo Jan 21 '12 at 14:11
    
Hehe, I hope you had to peek into the HTML source to tell that the underscore is (told to be) rendered italic for *_*? Spot the difference: _ versus _ ;-) –  Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 14:14
    
So you can't tell the difference? –  sudo Jan 21 '12 at 14:25
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I even zoomed in, but: no. :-) –  Arjan Jan 21 '12 at 16:37

Is this a discrepancy between the JavaScript preview and the rendered post? Let's see:

unique_names

No, so they are at least consistent.

I agree it's not exactly what I would expect to happen.

*unique*names*

provides a similar but .. more logical .. result as we disable intra-word emphasis, so perhaps the regex just treats *_ as part of the same character group.

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