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...


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.

  • 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, 2012 at 15:14
  • @sixlettervariables "fabulous Unicorn troll" - pics or those never happened. Feb 7, 2012 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, 2012 at 15:21
  • 4
    @CoffeeRain: Meme. "Zalgo, he comes". Search it.
    – user1228
    Feb 7, 2012 at 15:53
  • 1
    @jadarnel27: It happened 1 April 2010. Feb 7, 2012 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 7
    I like you for answering this with a straight face. Feb 7, 2012 at 15:22
  • 1
    @jadarnel27 Trust me, it wasn't easy =P
    – casperOne
    Feb 7, 2012 at 15:24
  • Thanks! I'm new to SO, but I'm learning these things...
    – CoffeeRain
    Feb 7, 2012 at 15:31
  • 1
    That image is awesome...
    – cdeszaq
    Feb 7, 2012 at 15:35
  • 3
    @CoffeeRain NP, and congrats on asking your question in the right place. You'll do fine. =)
    – casperOne
    Feb 7, 2012 at 15:35

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