Special Characters Fixed at Last

For years the “special characters” that are common to some European languages have been rendered as question marks by my WordPress. And many times commenters have suggested what seemed like obvious solutions. Like, enter the HTML code for the character directly in the post (which would always look perfect in draft, then upon publication would become a question mark.) Or use a plugin — written by a Filer! — to insert the special character in the post. Followed by my looking none-too-bright as I explained I hadn’t been able to get these technically reasonable ideas to work. I have routinely had to use either of my two workarounds, substituting a Latin character and apologizing in an endnote, or creating a graphic of the name or title to be wedged into place that never looked like it belonged.

Adam Szedlak, a couple of months ago, planted the idea that it was a database problem. The database is not part of the WordPress program I can see, it’s not something I have dashboard controls to modify. I would have to enlist the help of my ISP’s customer support. So I procrastinated.

Then the Ignyte Awards finalists came out last week. Camestros Felapton got the news posted on his WordPress blog ahead of me, and I noticed one of the nominated magazines had multiple special characters in its title. His WordPress rendered the name correctly, whereas in my post with the same list that title was riddled with question marks. Even though we all know Camestros is a genius, I suspected he hadn’t had to do anything extra to produce the right result, the explanation was that his WordPress was set up correctly and something was wrong with mine. I finally set aside time to work with customer support.

At first, the biggest problem was convincing them I had a problem. I use workarounds, I don’t put up posts and let the question marks fall where they may. I needed to create an example for them to diagnose, which I did.

Then, while my ISP was casting about for a solution, they twice changed something and caused most of the apostrophes, quote marks, and hyphens to appear as black diamonds with a question mark in the middle. Bruce Arthurs commented when he saw that the other night.

But as of this morning they have fixed the problem by making the right modifications to a WordPress table and charset.  

So let’s celebrate! Here are examples of names and titles that I have had to work around this year which will now display correctly. Pour yourself your favorite beverage!

2022 Ignyte Awards Shortlist | File 770

Khōréō Magazine 

Candidates for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2022 (alma.se)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bisera Alikadić, Author
Elmira Mekić, Author
Ranko Risojević, Author

2020 – 2022 – European Science Fiction Society (esfs.info)

Marta Ignerska “Świat Lema” (The world of Lem)

19 thoughts on “Special Characters Fixed at Last

  1. It was too good to be true, wasn’t it.

    For some reason that character is still a problem in comments, but I can get it to reproduce correctly in a post.

  2. Just to be exact, it’s two characters, o and u with the long double accent.

    Apart from that, great imporvement! 🙂

  3. Congratulations on making progress on this – I wonder if the WordPress changes are responsible for the notification issue.

  4. I wonder if the Nütty Nüggets can be restored to their intended glory? But, then, that’d require changing the graphic based on the name, so not 100% sure it is worth the effort,

  5. @Mike Glyer: Congratulations!

    IMHO we should all appertain ourselves your beverage of choice. 😉 So . . . what’re we drinking right now??? 😀

  6. ñ???!
    (hmm, those were supposed to be an i with a lower diacritic, a c with hacek, and an e with a macron….seems like not all the bugs have been worked out)

  7. I tested the special characters from David’s comment in a post. They display correctly in a post. So when I get my next surge of energy I will have my ISP look at what database and charset the comments draw from, which must be different.

  8. Browser issues can still affect users. This page specifies the character set as UTF-8, which is the most common today. Some browsers may try to read it as an ISO 8859 character set, such as Latin-1, in which case all the special characters will look wrong.

    Some may have fonts which don’t include all the special characters you use. A font is different from a character set; it’s a set of renderings associated with character codes, and not every font supports every UTF-8 encoding.

    So not every problem at this point is necessary your site’s fault.

  9. @Mike Glyer: Me and my big mouth! 😉 Maybe I’ll try a regular Mountain Dew. . . .

    (I mean, the Diet may be better for me. . . . Well, it’s complicated, no doubt.)

  10. I, for one, welcome our new (fully?) Unicoded File 770! Coming late once again (we had a fannish party yesterday with some people who came from all over to the “Comic-Con Prague”), but blahop?eju.

    Lorien Gray: Um, what was that word you (I surmise) tried to use?

  11. Räksmörgås!!!!

    Swedish for “Prawn Sandwich”. Used when testing if Swedish characters work. 😉

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