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I was reading through a question, and on one of the comments, there were some weird symbols running vertically through one of the words. Later I found a post on Stack Overflow that looked even worse...

Screenshot

Is this supposed to look like that? I would doubt it because it's locked like this so I couldn't see the actual formatting options. If it helps, I'm using Safari.

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10  
You've been had by an elaborate Unicode troll. Nothing to see here... (Not to be confused with a fabulous Unicorn troll. ) –  user7116 Feb 7 '12 at 15:14
    
@sixlettervariables "fabulous Unicorn troll" - pics or those never happened. –  jadarnel27 Feb 7 '12 at 15:20
    
Could you explain? Is this my computer, or is this for everyone? How would it happen on a post. –  CoffeeRain Feb 7 '12 at 15:21
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@CoffeeRain: Meme. "Zalgo, he comes". Search it. –  Won't Feb 7 '12 at 15:53
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@jadarnel27: It happened 1 April 2010. –  dmckee Feb 7 '12 at 17:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 19 down vote accepted

This is by design.

The Stack Exchange sites use fonts that have varying support for Unicode characters, so what you are seeing is the usage of some of the more esoteric character renderings in that particular font.

If you read through the entire answer, what you're seeing was done intentionally by the author as part of a (humorous) attempt to indicate how futile the author believes it is to try and parse HTML with regular expressions.

If you take the time to read it, you'll notice that it starts out as someone who is trying to reason with the idea of doing such a thing, but then descends into madness, which the esoteric characters are used to emphasize.

That post is so popular that it's become a meme (and almost just as often, a point of contention) on Stack Overflow:

unicorn HTML/Regex parsing meme t-shirt

Additionally, you'll notice that the some of these characters in the fonts are used used to render things such as the moderator diamond (♦) as and other interesting characters in user profile names.

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7  
I like you for answering this with a straight face. –  jadarnel27 Feb 7 '12 at 15:22
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@jadarnel27 Trust me, it wasn't easy =P –  casperOne Feb 7 '12 at 15:24
    
Thanks! I'm new to SO, but I'm learning these things... –  CoffeeRain Feb 7 '12 at 15:31
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That image is awesome... –  cdeszaq Feb 7 '12 at 15:35
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@CoffeeRain NP, and congrats on asking your question in the right place. You'll do fine. =) –  casperOne Feb 7 '12 at 15:35

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