Note: the bug has returned in version 1.0.89 in a somewhat different form. See: Blank questions and answers

This possible bug report is similar to the bug in Answer has text now that was deemed not-reproducible. I can reproduce something similar with more recent app & Android versions.

  • App Version: 1.0.34 (original report; is still present in 1.0.38, 1.0.42, 1.0.58)

  • Android Version: 4.4 (up to 4.4.4)

  • Device: Motorola Droid Maxx

In the examples below, you can see some blank answer bodies. These are on different sites, and represent answers with both edited and non-edited text. In the first example, I clicked on the top answer tab to get to the answers, and in the second example I clicked on the bottom "View n Answers" button. (Trying to be a good little tester!)

Because I've seen this blank-answer-body intermittently over the past couple weeks (before the May 7 update), my process to test was just to go to the first site I frequent and then systematically click through the question list until I found a question with answers in which at least one answer was blank. For all three sites shown below, it was within the first 5 or 7 questions sorted by newest. Please note that I have seen many questions with several answers, none of which were blank. It is truly intermittent.

Example blank answer body at Workplace.SE:

Example blank answer body at Workplace.SE

Example blank answer body at Programmers.SE:

Example blank answer body at Programmers.SE

Example blank answer body at UX.SE:

enter image description here

And now here's the kicker, which makes me think this is some sort of content-loading latency issue rather than a rendering issue:

I returned to the left-side menu, selected the User Experience site, picked the same question as above, and then clicked the top answer tab to view answers again, and lo and behold the text is there:

Answer has text now

I then went back to the other questions with blank answers, shown above, and the answer bodies were no longer blank.

I am happy to go through more tests/paths and do screenshots if it is helpful.

The same bug also appears in question bodies.

blank question body

  • I experienced a very similar behaviour with a asus memopad, details described here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/231426/… I don't see any question or answer text at all.
    – Daniel
    May 11 '14 at 12:49
  • 3
    -1. Not enough freehand circles. May 15 '14 at 8:44
  • @SecondRikudo So what? +1 if not for the quality of the post, then to revert your downvote.
    – yo'
    May 17 '14 at 17:06
  • @tohecz: You need to visit meta some more. TL;DR, it's a joke, I didn't really downvote him :) May 17 '14 at 17:30
  • 2
    @SecondRikudo Sorry, I missed it's a joke in this case. Because once when I asked a question here, I got really downvoted quite a lot of times solely for that thing. Since then, I'm in the anti-anti-circle movement :)
    – yo'
    May 17 '14 at 17:32
  • 1
    FWIW, it's "her", and I got the joke. :)
    – jcmeloni
    May 17 '14 at 19:03
  • @tohecz I really doubt you were really downvoted for lack of circles, more likely the downvoter disagreed with something you actually said or suggested in your post. Jun 20 '14 at 20:30
  • The way things render (for me?) is that the body of questions/answers is last to populate. Perhaps this is caused by losing the connection to the api at a specific moment (or reading the question title etc. from cache and failing to load from the offline api or some other such intermittent/punctual scenario).
    – AD7six
    Jun 21 '14 at 9:35
  • I experience the same problem on a Tesco Hudl tablet (7" display). meta.stackexchange.com/questions/237940/…
    – Mentatmatt
    Aug 12 '14 at 13:11
  • 1
    This is still happening for me on 1.0.58 on a Samsung Galaxy S3. Example thread: serverfault.com/questions/673559/…
    – longneck
    Mar 10 '15 at 0:07
  • 3
    Still happening for me. In fact, it's happening on this question.
    – ale
    Mar 11 '15 at 11:27
  • Probably Android's webview that freaks out for some reason.
    – Diederik
    Mar 11 '15 at 19:13
  • It is making using the app quite annoying.
    – user234810
    Mar 14 '15 at 16:29
  • 1
    Something else that occurs when I see blanks is that they are incredibly long. I can scroll down for what must be at least 10 screen lengths, often even longer, before hitting the bottom. I also see blanks in questions.
    – user234810
    Mar 14 '15 at 17:17
  • I saw something new: questions and/or answers that are visible in a portrait view disappear (become blank) when I turn my phone into landscape.
    – PM 77-1
    Mar 15 '15 at 19:48

Excuse my language, but:

enter image description here

When hotfixing a similar bug caused this to show up for more users, it came me as a great hint to what was causing it. Basically, we were trying to hardware accelerate all of our views and some GPUs just don't have big enough storage to handle how hilariously complex the WebViews we use for displaying posts are. Due to my ignorance, I had tried to fix this by setting the views to LAYER_TYPE_SOFTWARE which, you know, kind of sounds like the opposite of LAYER_TYPE_HARDWARE, but it turns out that they both use bitmap buffers and sometimes we still go over that limit!

So long story short, starting from version 1.0.59 (coming out sometime tomorrow, some other minor bugs I want to fix before that release) we finally have this issue fixed. If you're on a device that's running a version of Android lower than 5.0*, the posts will be using LAYER_TYPE_NONE which doesn't try to generate a bitmap of the view, and bam now posts are readable on devices with lower end GPUs. I'm psyched. I'm so sorry it took this long to fix it (and so sorry about the lack of communication, this bug has been driving me crazy and I didn't want to post until I knew exactly what was happening).

* We're currently doing the test off 5.0 because I suspect this issue only happens on WebKit powered WebViews (5.0 switched over to a Chromium powered WebView) -- If it keeps happening on 5.0 or above I'll modify that condition to be something else. Sadly you can't just say "If this device has a GPU with a small buffer", but "if this device has a high res screen" is a good alternative test we might switch over too.

  • 1
    Can't wait to test with the next release! :)
    – jcmeloni
    Mar 17 '15 at 22:28
  • 1
    If you can't find the right conditions, just add a preference "Troubleshooting: activate this if you see blank questions" or something
    – Kuitsi
    Mar 18 '15 at 18:13
  • 3
    Whoo hoo! I just spent a chunk of time using 1.0.59 to read many questions and answers on many SE sites, and I experienced no blank areas whatsoever. On many Qs & As there was a noticeable wait (1 sec?) to populate the text on scroll, but completely acceptable. I only noticed b/c I'm trained to notice such things. :) Thank you so so much for fixing this issue.
    – jcmeloni
    Mar 19 '15 at 15:12
  • 2
    After the update I was able to see posts that I was not able to before the update! Thanks for the fix.
    – Joe W
    Mar 19 '15 at 15:48
  • How dare you call my device's GPU low end. /me storms out with tears in eyes.
    – Diederik
    Mar 19 '15 at 18:47
  • 1.0.59 brought some crashes back
    – Kuitsi
    Mar 20 '15 at 15:42

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