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I just discovered the “synonyms” feature at the bottom of the info page for a tag, specifically the “c#” tag.

For a laugh, and just to try the feature, I entered “c♯”. This is the Unicode Character “MUSIC SHARP SIGN” (U+266F). Now I recognise that StackOverflow might not want to complicate everything by allowing such outlandish characters, but the point of my report here is that the user experience was very bad:

  • The system silently changed c♯ into just c and went ahead adding the suggestion. It should instead display an error.
  • It doesn’t let me downvote or retract the suggestion (which of course wasn’t meant to be just c). It should let me remove it in case of mistake.
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I've been harping on these UI issues (especially silently transforming user input), and yet the dev team doesn't seem to listen. For example, see my answer here.

In Joel's most recent blog entry, he posted a video about UI simplicity. He made the example that while a UI should be as simple as possible for the most likely workflow, if the user makes a mistake or deviates from that workflow, the user must be able to undo the action. (This was an excellent video, by the way. If you're at all interested in UI design, give it a watch.)

So in this specific case, it's probably easiest to simply reject the input if the transformed input doesn't match the original input (after some processing, such as removing whitespace). I also think that a user should be able to rescind a tag synonym proposal without waiting for downvotes to blow it away. This minimizes moderator and support overhead in the case of a mistake. (The latter feature request is a duplicate of this question.)

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