Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There's no craigslist presence in my city, but sometimes I browse the "best of" because it's funny or interesting.

Why are some posts full of question marks? It looks like all punctuation except commas and full stops is being replaced by � symbols.


Firefox 3 on Macbook Pro.

share|improve this question
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Here's an example of that from Craigslist.

That page is encoded using ISO-8859-1 encoding, however, the web server is announcing that the page is in UTF-8 by sending down the following header:

Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8

This is a bug in Craigslist. It is a fair assumption that the Craigslist programmers do not know the absolute minimum that working programmers should know about Unicode.

Those curly apostrophes, in ISO-8859-1, are encoded using bytes which, in UTF-8, would not be valid. Thus they appear as <?> in Firefox and squares in IE.

To fix the problem when you are viewing the page, go up to the View menu and choose Character Encoding > Western (ISO-8859-1) to tell the browser what encoding the page is really in.

share|improve this answer
We'll have to start calling you Kibo. – Richard Hoskins Aug 13 '09 at 4:37
That page is actually encoded in windows-1252. ISO 8859-1 does not even have curly quotes. However when you choose ISO-8859-1 in Firefox, bytes in the 80-9F range (not defined by ISO-8859-1) display as the corresponding windows-1252 graphic. – mark4o Aug 21 '09 at 5:49
thank you, oh microsoft, for giving us curly quotes that mess up our cut-n-pastes, for inconsistent codepages, for... oh, i give up. – quack quixote Oct 4 '09 at 1:17

Often that happens when you cut and paste from a program that's using its own code page or character set. The local program sees them as apostrophes, but since it's a non-standard character it has no meaning for the renderer so it just defaults to the black diamond/white question mark �.

Obligatory Joelonsoftware photo:

alt text

More on unicode:

share|improve this answer
+1 just for that picture – Axxmasterr Aug 13 '09 at 1:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .