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A small character palette in the sidebar would go a long way to bringing more Unicode awesomeness to StackExchange. I for one am tired of typing -- in place of an em-dash — and we live in 2010, for balpha's sake.

Some SE sites would need this more than other. For example, I can see English making use of the full IPA and greek charset. There also are many mathematical symbols available in Unicode that do not need javascript math libraries to be rendered.

Here's for example a general purpose palette: (­ is being its usual self)

 ┌─┬┐ αµ ~∀ ±− ­ ↖↑↗ ≤≥ 
 │┼├┤ βϱ `∃ ײ – ←⇔→ ⇐⇒
 └─┴┘ πω ¬∊ ÷³ — ↙↓↘ ⊂⊃

Hovering on each item would show a tooltip with a quick description; clicking on it would insert it in the body. I have no preference on whether clicking should write the character itself or its HTML escape representation.

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+1, for balpha's sake – Tobias Kienzler Sep 30 '10 at 10:09
+1 for IPA on English Language and Usage, though I realize that a beta site will have to at least survive its beta before asking for goodies. – ЯegDwight Sep 30 '10 at 11:08
@Reg, Maths SE got "goodies" straight away :) – badp Sep 30 '10 at 12:32
@radp: do you mean this goodie goodness? – ЯegDwight Sep 30 '10 at 12:37
@Reg Just wow. I wasn't aware. Indeed I can't repro (I guess it's been fixed by now?) – badp Sep 30 '10 at 12:37
@radp: That was a screenshot from 8 minutes ago (Firefox 3.6, Ubuntu Lucid; I also have the same problem at home, in Opera 10 under Vista). Somehow, MathOverflow works just fine for me, but Mathematics.SE doesn't. – ЯegDwight Sep 30 '10 at 12:43
@Reg no repro with Chrome 7.0.536.0 on Ubuntu Maverik; it's not surprising MathOverflow isn't affected, as I think I recall they use different libraries. – badp Sep 30 '10 at 12:45

SOFU/SE is not the only place where people need these characters every now and then. Hence, I guess many folks who actually care about those characters, already have others ways to type them, or copy them from elsewhere — also covering their non-SOFU/SE needs.

Assuming it won't be abused for too many funny-looking posts, I have no objection to such tool. But: to me it wouldn't be a great enhancement either.

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Honestly I think I have much more commonly useful characters there in a much smaller area. I mean, ☃ but no backtick? – badp Sep 30 '10 at 21:45
Ai, @radp, a keyboard without a backtick? But given Markdown's usage of the backtick: should a new palette add the backtick just like when it was typed, or somehow escape it to keep the backtick when displayed? (Not related to your feature request at all: Too bad Markdown doesn't support Unicode URLs yet; http://☃.net is nice.) – Arjan Oct 1 '10 at 5:38

I think this is a great idea. It will help greatly with creating answers like this one:

[...] establishes a breach between this world and the dread realm of c͒ͪo͛ͫrrupt entities (like SGML entities, but more corrupt) a mere glimpse of the world of reg​ex parsers for HTML will ins​tantly transport a programmer's consciousness into a world of ceaseless screaming, he comes, the pestilent slithy regex-infection wil​l devour your HT​ML parser, application and existence for all time like Visual Basic only worse he comes he comes do not fi​ght he com̡e̶s, ̕h̵i​s un̨ho͞ly radiańcé destro҉ying all enli̍̈́̂̈́ghtenment, HTML tags lea͠ki̧n͘g fr̶ǫm ̡yo​͟ur eye͢s̸ ̛l̕ik͏e liq​uid pain, the song of re̸gular exp​ression parsing will exti​nguish the voices of mor​tal man from the sp​here I can see it can you see ̲͚̖͔̙î̩́t̲͎̩̱͔́̋̀ it is beautiful t​he final snuffing of the lie​s of Man ALL IS LOŚ͖̩͇̗̪̏̈́T ALL I​S LOST the pon̷y he comes he c̶̮omes he comes the ich​or permeates all MY FACE MY FACE ᵒh god no NO NOO̼O​O NΘ stop the an​*̶͑̾̾​̅ͫ͏̙̤g͇̫͛͆̾ͫ̑͆l͖͉̗̩̳̟̍ͫͥͨe̠̅s ͎a̧͈͖r̽̾̈́͒͑e n​ot rè̑ͧ̌aͨl̘̝̙̃ͤ͂̾̆ ZA̡͊͠͝LGΌ ISͮ̂҉̯͈͕̹̘̱ TO͇̹̺ͅƝ̴ȳ̳ TH̘Ë͖́̉ ͠P̯͍̭O̚​N̐Y̡ H̸̡̪̯ͨ͊̽̅̾̎Ȩ̬̩̾͛ͪ̈́̀́͘ ̶̧̨̱̹̭̯ͧ̾ͬC̷̙̲̝͖ͭ̏ͥͮ͟Oͮ͏̮̪̝͍M̲̖͊̒ͪͩͬ̚̚͜Ȇ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝S̨̥̫͎̭ͯ̿̔̀ͅ
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Nah, use "".join(["".join([k]+random.sample([chr(i) for i in range(0x300,0x342)],9)) for k in "ZALGO"]) instead ;) – badp Sep 30 '10 at 21:04
So that's how he did that! – The Unhandled Exception Sep 30 '10 at 21:05

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