119

‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​Prior to an edit, this question was posted with no content in it, both in the title and the question body.

Screenshot of the current post before it was edited. The Meta banner is visible as is the score and other elements of the page but the title space and post body are completely empty of text, showing only the post notice banner stating that the post was migrated from Meta Stack Overflow

The explanation to reproduce is provided in Temani Afif's answer.

Since this was discovered, similar text fields around the site have been found to have similar issues and they are outlined in the answers below.

Note from Catija:

While we appreciate all the effort y'all have gone to to test and find places this is possible, we'd like this question to be understandable so that seeing it doesn't cause confusion. Feel free to add additional information to this answer but please leave the question itself as-is. Also, while y'all are free to continue to seek out these issues, we hope that you would all refrain from actually abusing this feature.

29
  • 30
    We can even submit empty questions. This need to be fixed Jan 6, 2021 at 21:20
  • 15
    This was incredibly hard to get to; nothing is clickable from the Tagged Questions page. Why would you do this?!
    – Larnu
    Jan 6, 2021 at 21:22
  • 2
    Duplicate: Can we create invisible things?. Jan 6, 2021 at 22:05
  • 11
    I still can't stop laughing... You know how BAD this looks in the followed posts menu??
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 22:11
  • 9
    @Ollie Honestly... not really worse than it looks in the questions list. I expected something more horrifying :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 7, 2021 at 2:15
  • 7
    Chat oneboxen of this post are also not clickable... which is fun cause I thew this into a chatroom to keep an eye on it...
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jan 7, 2021 at 2:34
  • 6
    Doesn’t Stack Exchange use a bug tracker internally with questions being automatically added as soon as they get the status-review tag? I’m wondering what this question looks like in the bug tracker. Jan 7, 2021 at 5:48
  • 6
    Staff, while you're at it, please have a look at my similar request for usernames.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jan 7, 2021 at 8:26
  • 4
  • 3
    @fedorqui'SOstopharming' another one: meta.stackexchange.com/q/10519/386331 ... seems like I ressurected a very very old bug after 10 years Jan 7, 2021 at 9:47
  • 8
    So this is like Winter Bash, but instead of hunting for hats we are hunting for places we can post empty stuff. Jan 7, 2021 at 11:27
  • 4
    Not really no. Its meta being meta and testing things to destruction, like infinite monkeys with infinite bolts of silk recreating the works of Christo :D
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jan 7, 2021 at 11:46
  • 5
    Given the answers, I was tempted to add the fun tag... Apparently we're all still in Winter Bash mode :)
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jan 7, 2021 at 21:53
  • 20
    I'm laughing at the "Needs details or clarity" close vote here... how could you make the problem any clearer?
    – Ollie
    Jan 7, 2021 at 22:23
  • 4
    @ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤ why, just why do you have to do this?
    – 10 Rep
    Jan 19, 2021 at 18:10

23 Answers 23

54

As we can not see, I was able to submit an empty question.

To reproduce it:

  1. Submit a question with a content
  2. Right after the submission, edit the question to remove everything and include invisible zero-width spaces.

Edit the below snippet to be able to see the spaces (they will show as red dots if you are using Chrome)

‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​


The system didn't allow me to submit the question initially due to the quality check but there was no quality check after edits.


We can, by the way, submit empty answers without the need of an edit after (see this answer).

11
  • 17
    I can see this is going to be a real pain to stop people doing this, but also I suspect that it's going to be unlikely be abused. If anything, if someone does this with malicious intent they'll likely just going to get stern words from the mods. Though, I won't lie, the whole thing is really amusing. It would be even better if we'd all lumped in to post "blank" comments and answers. ;)
    – Larnu
    Jan 6, 2021 at 21:33
  • 4
    @Larnu and using blank usernames ;) Jan 6, 2021 at 21:35
  • 4
    That is the stuff of nightmares.
    – Larnu
    Jan 6, 2021 at 21:36
  • Don't focus too much on visibility. Although the content isn't visible, it's clearly visible that (on the main sites) this would be deliberate malpractice, making it not different than any other malpractice, which community moderation is perfectly capable of dealing with. Jan 6, 2021 at 23:06
  • 1
    @GertArnold why waiting for moderation intervention when we can prevent this from happening? Few more tests on the content should do it. Jan 6, 2021 at 23:09
  • 1
    “if you are using Chrome” — Works in Firefox, too, at least using Nightly 86.0a1. Jan 7, 2021 at 5:33
  • It's not a real pain to stop people doing this @Larnu alter table Posts add constraint ChkPostBodyLength check (datalength(body) > 100); (repeat for all fields with user input text). Jan 7, 2021 at 10:50
  • 2
    @benisuǝqbackwards a zero width unicode character has a value of 2 for datalength, so 50 of them, and done. But that would also force users to post comments that are 50 characters long. That is far from desired.
    – Larnu
    Jan 7, 2021 at 10:54
  • The length could be different for different fields @Larnu, but you're right about the spaces having a length. You'd have to replace them first before performing the length which would make longer strings (i.e. posts) a real pain at scale. Jan 7, 2021 at 11:53
  • 10
    Stripping leading/trailing spaces (including zws, zwj, etc) was routinely done on submission for years, @ben. It led to some other obscure bugs, so I'm guessing someone fixed them by moving the check without considering the implications.
    – Shog9
    Jan 7, 2021 at 15:20
  • LOL, this is so funny.
    – user688097
    Jan 29, 2021 at 16:33
29

Oh boy:

enter image description here

We can use it to raise empty custom flags. Empty tag wikis, too.

5
  • 12
    Please don't, though.
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 22:39
  • 24
    The stackexchange team must be hating me .. I opened the pandora's box ... Jan 6, 2021 at 22:51
  • 9
    @TemaniAfif The Stack Exchange community is loving you, if the upvotes are anything to tell by ;)
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 22:51
  • 4
    @TemaniAfif and that box is apparently full of emptyness.
    – VLAZ
    Jan 7, 2021 at 7:56
  • 2
    @TemaniAfif But the last thing left in the box, is hope. Jan 7, 2021 at 14:55
22

I can also use this method to screw up my "About Me" section, e.g., remove the text "Your about me is currently blank", and the "Apparently this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them" that y'all see:

enter image description here

Go take a look in my profile.

8
  • 10
    Rep for Nothing
    – rgettman
    Jan 6, 2021 at 22:40
  • 10
    @rgettman badges for nothing Jan 6, 2021 at 22:54
  • 8
    I'd say that this is by-design. Users should be able to have an empty "About Me" section, if they like.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:13
  • 5
    @CodyGray They can, but empty profiles always show the "Apparently, this user preferred to shroud themselves in a veil of mystery" or the like.
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:14
  • 13
    Yeah, but what if I don't want that silliness? Seems reasonable to allow its removal. What I'm saying is, there shouldn't be a content requirement for profile pages like there needs to be for posts.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:27
  • 1
    @CodyGray By all means go ahead and make an FR, but I'm just posting the bug according to the current settings.
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:59
  • 15
    What I'm saying is, I disagree that this is a bug.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 7, 2021 at 0:13
  • Answer outdated, showing old avatar and also they now simply don't show the About Me section at all when there's no content. Jun 27 at 13:55
20

Thanks to @ppwater, the tag now has an empty excerpt and wiki. See the tag info page.

5
  • 3
    not as empty as it should be. I made it even more empty ;) [let's wait for peer approval] Jan 7, 2021 at 10:00
  • 3
    This is nothing new. If you initially propose them as suggested edits and they get rejected, they'll be blank anyway. Jan 7, 2021 at 10:19
  • 2
    The tag no long exists, making the link to the tag info page dead.
    – bobble
    Jul 21, 2021 at 19:13
  • @bobble is correct, answer has no value now. :-( Jun 27 at 13:57
  • It's function is to share the fun we all had with this bug report ...
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Jun 27 at 13:59
20

Empty bounty summary:

enter image description here

See Where I started the bounty. (Now awarded)

1
14

There's no clickable area to this post from the 10k tools' Delete Votes page (there's an answer here with a pending delete vote).

Unclickable delete vote entry

Even on posts I'm unable to vote to delete/undelete, I can still click the link to hop to that post from this entry.

Not super unique (I mean, we already know the title is unclickable) but I see other answers documenting places where this affects accessibility and figured I would add this to the list.

12

4

I don't think I need any further explanations. I can create an empty room name using the ‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​ symbol.

0
12

5
  • 8
    Yes, it's another empty answer, but this time it's with a 1x1 transparent image.
    – rgettman
    Jan 20, 2021 at 18:51
  • 10
    I'm not sure how we would prevent transparent images.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 20, 2021 at 20:05
  • 7
    Oh, this one is awesome ;) Please take my upvote.
    – Ollie
    Jan 20, 2021 at 20:47
  • @Catija not sure if this helps but in python it is possible using opencv.
    – 10 Rep
    Jan 20, 2021 at 21:40
  • 2
    Preventing it is simple. Flag it, let a mod take a look, and suspend the user :D
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Jan 30, 2021 at 12:54
11

Empty suggested edit summary. (I edited Ollie's answer) approved edit enter image description here

Edit view:

enter image description here

1
  • 3
    Suggested no longer, as I approved it.
    – Ollie
    Jan 7, 2021 at 1:45
10

Empty reject reason:

Empty custom close reason:

enter image description here

1
9

It turns out I can have zero-width characters in my password, although I also need to add one letter and one number.

3
  • 9
    Best password ever. Jan 7, 2021 at 16:57
  • 4
    In this case I don't think it's a problem, as it won't be displayed anywhere. If you want to make your password difficult to type, that's up to you.
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 8, 2021 at 0:18
  • 1
    Why did you deface your username? Now it's impossible to find anything of yours! Also see meta.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/76648, there's already a post that did that.
    – Ollie
    Jan 8, 2021 at 19:05
8

People are vandalising their questions into "no title, no body" questions. Here is an example (see revision 3).

This is the 2nd or 3rd time I am seeing this happen in the wild...


People testing it out in answers:

enter image description here

4
  • 7
    flag such behavior .. vandalism isn't something new. I'd prefer empty content rather than bad words Jan 23, 2021 at 14:46
  • 2
    Agree with @Temani - that's just one way to vandalize, they can also edit it into "plz delete" over 100 lines, seen it done countless times. High rep users can rollback, and if it goes on moderator can suspend the problematic user and/or lock the post. Jan 23, 2021 at 17:14
  • 3
    If you see this then flag. It's no different from normal vandalism.
    – 10 Rep
    Jan 23, 2021 at 17:22
  • Another test : meta.stackexchange.com/a/361810/598066 Mar 7, 2021 at 5:40
8

I posted here earlier that the issue had been fixed, but it's reported that the issue still persisted. I just moved it back to status-review.

Update 7/15/2022: The previous fix was grouping consecutive zero width characters into a single one when we validate the post length, which fixed the issue on my machine If I used the steps listed here to reproduce it.

We looked at this issue again and decided to remove all zero width characters when validating length. This change only affects length validation, and it doesn't actually remove the characters.

7
  • 6
    not for me, I was able to submit an empty answer: meta.stackexchange.com/a/379735/386331 Jun 22 at 15:10
  • 1
    If you will elaborate what exactly has been fixed, maybe we can point out what's still missing? (e.g. if you only fixed the bug allowing to submit empty questions, there's still a bug when posting empty answers.) Jun 22 at 15:15
  • 4
    We added a check to remove all zero width spaces and zero width non joiners when we validate question and answer body. I wasn't able to submit an empty answer just now. But I'll change this back to status review.
    – Shiyao Li StaffMod
    Jun 22 at 15:20
  • Well probably the trick is using something else, @TemaniAfif can you please elaborate how exactly you were able to post empty answer yesterday? What characters were used? Jun 23 at 7:28
  • @ShadowWizardSaysNoMoreWar check the most upvoted answer. I already detailed how to create empty question/answer Jun 23 at 7:43
  • 1
    @ShiyaoLi the bug report is about many places where users can submit empty content, you fixed only empty posts. I don't think it is status-completed, unless you prefer to have each as a separate bug report? Jul 18 at 18:10
  • 1
    I created this post to start keeping track of all the places where this issue is occurring, so we can better track it, @ShadowTheKidWizard — feel free to start filling it up ;)
    – JNat StaffMod
    Jul 21 at 10:23
8

Summary of locations where this issue occurs, posted as answers

Want to contribute? Great! But please read the notes at the bottom of this post first.

Notes

Credits

Essentially copied the format from here.

7
  • 1
    I created this answer as a placeholder, and will be filling it up early next week (lot on my plate this week). In case folks wanna start contributing, though, have at it! ^_^
    – JNat StaffMod
    Jul 21 at 10:25
  • 1
    Some issues have been mentioned only in the comments. These are what I could find: empty comments, no clickable area in followed posts list, broken chat oneboxes, and (apparently) empty duplicate banner. Jul 21 at 13:56
  • 1
    Prolly ok to add to the main post, @TheAmplitwist . Also, thanks for filling that table in ^_^
    – JNat StaffMod
    Jul 21 at 13:57
  • Sure, I'll do that. Happy to help :) Jul 21 at 13:59
  • 2
    I would say that the empty duplicate banner is not a real issue here, since that's just because the post title is empty cc@TheAmplitwist
    – Luuklag
    Jul 21 at 14:17
  • 1
    @Luuklag Perhaps that reasoning is also applicable to the "no clickable area" issues, since they, too, only occur because of the empty post title/body. Sure, they can be removed from this list if it's clear that they don't need to be tracked. Jul 21 at 22:22
  • Empty is not the same as invisible. For instance, invisible characters, even zero-width, can still (blindly) be selected by Shift + arrow key right (at least in edit views). And copied. If not zero-width it might take up space when rendered. Is this problem about using invisible characters? Sep 12 at 11:03
8

‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​What interests me is that no matter where I put the magic dots, they don't render. Search engine, Notepad, Notepad++, IDLE, PyCharm, etc. None of them rendered the actual dots.

Also, it's not possible to put your profile name as these characters. This is what happens when you try:

Trying it out

That doesn't mean answers and questions should work the same way, though.

Lastly, this:

Bruh https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bruh#Noun_2

Why do you have to do this to me?

Also, I've tried this on Codidact.

3
7

As relaxed as chatroom tags already were, we can also have empty tag identifiers.

Example of an empty chatroom tag

The same can't be said about tags created through the [tag:...] format.

0
6

You can post empty chat messages with this trick:

enter image description here

2
  • yes was going to edit my answer to include it too ;) Jan 6, 2021 at 23:07
  • @TemaniAfif too late ;)
    – Ollie
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:08
5

There is also another method I found that will do all the things posted so far (credit to a vandal). The characters are in the below snippet:

ㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤㅤIt stops here.  Copy/paste the chars <-- from "It".

They are Korean Unicode characters - a Hangul filler (U+3164).

2
  • "I'm still trying to find out what they are." It appears to be Korean Unicode, a Hangul filler (U+3164).
    – Mast
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:59
  • 1
    Yes, there are several nonprintable Unicode characters, e.g. (U+2800), the blank Braille character. I don’t think it’s necessary to add another answer for each one of them. It doesn’t even matter if Stack Exchange fixes the ZWSP bug for all nonprintables or just for U+200B, as ⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁⠁ would be an equally low-quality post and should not be accepted anyway. Jan 20, 2021 at 6:43
5

||||||

The | bars are for indicating the edges of the image.

Empty "other off-topic close reason" indeed.

0
4

One can use Unicode combining characters to produce an almost empty display name.

enter image description here

Try it yourself:

const textarea = document.querySelector('textarea');
document.querySelector('button').addEventListener('click', function(e){
  textarea.focus();
  textarea.select();
  document.execCommand('copy');
  textarea.blur();
});
Select all and copy in the textarea below or 
press the Copy button to get an almost empty 
display name you can set. <br>
<textarea readonly>̣̣̣</textarea> <br>
<button>Copy</button>

6
  • It's Unicode combining characters, right? Jan 7, 2021 at 17:48
  • @̣̣̣ Yes. I see you've tried it. Jan 7, 2021 at 17:48
  • 1
    This has been fixed - display names cannot consist entirely of malformed combining characters or other similarly invisible characters. They must contain at least one visible character (in addition to the other rules that already existed).
    – Kyle Pollard StaffMod
    Sep 6 at 22:30
  • @KylePollard how can you tell 1) when combining characters are malformed?, 2) whether a character is visible or not? Sep 7 at 9:41
  • For visibility, we checks each Rune of the string for it's UnicodeCategory. A display name must contain at least one rune having the category Letter, Number, Punctuation, or Symbol categories. (eg. ModifierLetter or OtherPunctuation)
    – Kyle Pollard StaffMod
    Sep 7 at 17:04
  • A malformed combining character would be one that's not combined with another character. For example, you can add the combining character representing an acute accent◌́ (U+0301) with e (U+0065) to get (U+0065 U+0301), like in Pokémon. Note that this is a different than the single character than é (U+00E9). If you were to put just the combining character ` ◌́ ` (U+0301) on it's own, it would be malformed because it's not combined. Some programs add (U+25CC) to represent that there should have been a character, but others just reject it outright.
    – Kyle Pollard StaffMod
    Sep 7 at 17:06
4

It works on the Area 51 Stack Exchange site:

Enter image description here ‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​  

It doesn't work on example questions as far as I know.

1
2

Unlike on the main questions feed, there is no clickable area I can find for this question on a tag search: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/empty

Screenshot of question

9
  • 2
    How about "Edited 2 mins ago by OrangeDog"...
    – Luuklag
    Jan 7, 2021 at 12:21
  • 1
    it's only available on my profile or the active tab Jan 7, 2021 at 12:21
  • @Luuklag there is no such text
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 7, 2021 at 12:35
  • @TemaniAfif it's also clickable in the "Linked" section from other questions
    – OrangeDog
    Jan 7, 2021 at 12:39
  • 1
    @OrangeDog that's because you sort on Newest, and not on Active
    – Luuklag
    Jan 7, 2021 at 12:40
  • 1
    You can access with <kbd>Tab</kbd> + <kbd>Enter</kbd>
    – ppwater
    Jan 7, 2021 at 13:11
  • 1
    @ppwater enjoying the limited markdown in comments? :D
    – 10 Rep
    Jan 7, 2021 at 22:45
  • @10Repsaysgetvaccinated that's not markdown :P
    – riQQ
    Jan 8, 2021 at 19:41
  • ... this is too funny
    – user688097
    Jan 29, 2021 at 17:39
2

I can make a SEDE query with this now: SELECT * FROM Posts WHERE Body='%‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​‎​%';

I am using Chrome, but it does not appear as a red dot in here

But in SEDE: not really bugged

But, if I visit its saved link:
bugg

0

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