Here is a screenshot of English SE newest questions tab. Look at the red gibberish (likely Martian handwriting).

enter image description here

Here is the text:

tdber 18 Tvrptvinp-oldpanigno"viTclzinsti

tdber 18 Tvrptvinp-

oldpanigno"viAddzinsti butt

/bvalui Addzon-td

I refreshed the page and the red text vanished.

This is no photoshop! It occurred not five minutes ago. I'm not sure how to tag this besides .


Here’s a copy of it happening on StackOverflow, too, running Safari under Darwin:

StackOverflow screwed-up image

and here again:

SO delete tab garbling

When in this state, View Source brings up a totally whited-out page. If you try to grab the garbled text with the mouse, it is correct when you paste it into a non-Safari window.

Also, chat is screwed up, in a limited fashion:

chat garbled imaged

migrated from english.meta.stackexchange.com Oct 1 '12 at 12:47

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • I’ve seen this, too. Restarting Safari always makes it go away. – tchrist Sep 20 '12 at 18:07
  • I'm using Chrome. – American Luke Sep 20 '12 at 18:09
  • 2
    Both Safari and Chrome are Webkit browsers. – Robusto Sep 20 '12 at 18:12
  • It never happens in Opera. It also happens on SO, but only under Safari. – tchrist Sep 20 '12 at 18:17
  • 3
    @tchrist: Don't feel so smug. Other horrible things do happen in Opera. – Robusto Sep 20 '12 at 18:18
  • 3
    @Robusto “Smug” doesn’t enter into providing a datapoint. – tchrist Sep 20 '12 at 18:21
  • 9
    If it's really Martians, they must've come from Area 51. – J.R. means 'Just Reinstate' Sep 20 '12 at 18:23
  • 1
    @tchrist: Shut up or I'll wake up Smaug. – Robusto Sep 20 '12 at 18:24
  • 4
    I think this should be on MSO. It's not site specific: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/6226474#6226474 – American Luke Sep 20 '12 at 18:39
  • This got [norepro]ed on ELU, but now that we have additional screenshots from SO and chat, I'm migrating it to MSO. – ЯegDwight Oct 1 '12 at 12:53

We can't reproduce this.

My gut is saying "dodgy proxy" or "ISP trying (and failing) to injecting ads", but that's just a hunch. If you can capture the traffic when this happens we'll take another look, but with nothing else to go on I'm 'ing it.

  • What do you mean by "capture the traffic"? – American Luke Sep 27 '12 at 21:10
  • @Luke - fiddler, network tab in Chrome or Firefox, anything where we can see the actual HTTP going back and forth. Basically we need to see when and where (ie. what request to the server) that garbage is getting added. – Kevin Montrose Sep 27 '12 at 21:12
  • 1
    I’ve saved off the HTML from the screens shown above, and there is no garbage in the HTML, just as there is none when you use the mouse to grab it. It is only in the display. – tchrist Oct 1 '12 at 12:50

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