App version: 1.0.35
Device: Nexus 7
Problem: Users with weird/unusual name won't display on the Android app, there will just be a blank space where the username should be. For example, this user is showing as:

On a question:
enter image description here

On their profile:
enter image description here

  • I'm seeing little squares on Windows 7, Chrome. I'm guessing then that the user has chosen to use characters that are unprintable in the font being used.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 20:43
  • On chrome on my tablet it is only showing a black space as well... So i guess it's not really an app problem?
    – Howli
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 20:48
  • The username is displayed correctly on my Nexus 5 in the app and in Chrome. Are you running the stock operating system?
    – Steven V
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


This is not a bug. Those are characters in the the Burmese script — or more technically, characters with the Unicode Script=Mymr character property.

The actual string he uses, “ကစၥပ နဒီ”, when rendered with hex escapes is:

  • "\x{1000}\x{1005}\x{1065}\x{1015} \x{1014}\x{1012}\x{102E}"

And with the far superior named escapes is:


Stack Exchange doesn’t forbid legal Unicode code points, and is not responsible for what fonts a user may or may not have on their own box. It is therefore not an SE bug.

  • 2
    Bingo. The names are being displayed as Roboto on the devices, Roboto doesn't seem to have the full extended unicode. We could either switch to a different font and do a cat and mouse game, or say "Oh well" since we're using the default android font. Commented May 20, 2014 at 14:26
  • @KasraRahjerdi From all reports, the “font substitution fallback algorithm” used on “mobile” devices is severely inferior to that used on regular laptop or desktop computers. This seems a bug at the user-end of things, not the StackExhange end, but I could be wrong. On the other hand, not handling Unicode letters correctly is surely a bug on the SE end, since it is not checking for “alphabeticalness” correctly — right?
    – tchrist
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 14:31
  • I know we're doing some changes on the server side for cases like this, I don't know how much it changes this specific scenario though. Commented May 20, 2014 at 14:35
  • @KasraRahjerdi: I agree, this is an Android font bug. Still, I wonder if it would be practical for the SE app to at least substitute a placeholder box or something for the undisplayable letters? Commented May 20, 2014 at 17:30
  • @IlmariKaronen How would we know what glyphs wont display though? We'd need a maintained list and update it each time an OS update comes out. Commented May 20, 2014 at 17:34
  • @KasraRahjerdi Yes, that really is not a feasible approach, despite however often it is naïvely suggested. So long as you go with the standard, the onus of compliance is on them not you.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 3:04
  • Hmm why should we allow non-standard characters in names anyway? This is an English website; such characters are bound to result in display errors for some; and we cannot type them, so that we cannot @user or even refer to users properly. Commented May 22, 2014 at 22:59
  • @Cerberus The decision was made long ago to permit an alphabetic characters (amongst others) in the user name. While changing your name to Κέρβερος or Солжени́цын might seem an affectation, for people whose names are Françoise or El Niño or Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason — or even 藤吾郎 — should be able to be called the name of their own choosing. Telling people their names are forbidden is not going to make anyone happy. It’s cultural imperialism at its worst. People deserve to be able to determine their own names for themselves individually as well collectively.
    – tchrist
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 23:10
  • @tchrist: A nickname on a website is not the same as an actual name...but so be it. At least the first letter still has to be a standard character, I believe (your last two examples are not possible, I believe). For what it's worth, I think what you're suggesting is the same as saying that people should be able to speak Chinese in chat and in questions/answers. Commented May 23, 2014 at 2:35

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