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Forums » Suggestions & Development Discussion » Confirmation for "weird" text characters?

Though I haven't been around a whole lot for awhile, it seems like people have been using fancy text characters and symbols/emojis more and more often in various posts, especially in LFRP; and I've also heard multiple times that many of those unusual text characters can be highly problematic for screen readers (and I imagine some are really difficult for sighted people with other vision issues, too, as well as any language translators someone might be using).

I was wondering if it might be reasonable to have something detect such characters in titles and post bodies (whether that's identifying if any are being used, or only activating the rest of this if there's more than some particular number of them) and, before the message actually posts, give the writer a little prompt that briefly explains the issue and asks if they still want to post the thing as-is or if they want to go back and edit it?

To be clear, I don't mean things like accent characters and whatnot. I mean things like characters that are designed to look like they're a different typeface without actually being a different typeface, certain emoji types that I guess get counted as regular text (instead of as an icon) in many places now, etc.

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So some of the type emojis you mean might include things like o.o or <(0_0<) or the infamous "uwu" and its derivatives?
Pretty sure they mean unicode special characters! Which could range from anything like a tilde or other accents over letters like on the Spanish eñe, to different characters for other languages outright (Arabic springs to mind), to the English alphabet done up in unicode, to the Zalgo effect - as not all browsers can locally handle them the same way.

And I know you stated you don’t mean that/“English or get out” but I don’t think there’s a means of differentiating whether a character is part of an existing language or whether it’s a Fancy English Letter on the back end. (Correct me if I’m wrong, browser and text-editor savvy folks?) Safari (etc) will still pop out squares indiscriminately without that kind of support either way.

Setting aside that this does also envelop non-English character based languages (as I've seen them used in that way on this site as well), as I'm pretty sure they're more aiming for those like me that use it as embellishment or as ways to obfuscate various spoilery information in-character or indicate alien or hacker text - always with warnings on the landing page in my case, same with any less-accessible profile style - I understand.

But my counterpoint to this would be more in terms of function - you don't accidentally type unicode or special characters; there are generators or key combinations and generally some effort required to get any of these. (I am reminded of similar people pointing out issues with people using browser hover text in the past too, as screen readers and mobile accounts can’t always get to that, either). So the use of these on any profile is often very deliberate and at this stage I don't know if there's a way that a browser could a) recognize that kind of usage of special characters as all of them handle these a little differently, locally, or differentiate between “you just typed a non-English letter” or “you just typed something in illegible fake cursive” but also b) would a "gotcha!" style callout matter to other folks at that stage, if they have already chosen to seek out that means of text entry?

There might be a better way, workflow-or-announcements-wise to let people know what’s going on here at an earlier point in the game - possibly in the initial BBcode/text editing instructions?
Zelphyr Topic Starter

What Rigby said. Things like text emojis, Lennyfaces, etc, I just assume are beyond helping short of a major cultural shift.

Uncertainty over if there'd be some reasonable way to specify the ones I mean is part of what I'm asking. I know character mapping is a a thing (and plays a major role in how things are processed), but I'm not sure if any of it would be both consistent enough and reasonably-enough set up use some form of inclusion or exclusion to detect them.

And I know they are used intentionally. I just also know that many of those who use them are unaware of the problems that can come of it. I'm not asking about letting people know they used these characters, but rather that they might be making things a lot more inaccessible than they realize and that there are people here who will be left out by it.
While I understand the issues of these things for those who won't be able to access these things, I think because as Rigby said that these people already do this with intention, they're also wildly aware that these things don't work on some devices. Most people who are using them are people who are primarily using desktops and browsers, who have no issues reading the symbols they choose for whatever fancy font or strange symbol/emoji choice they are making. These same people are also using similar things on discord for their usernames there, because the app allows it and they know that mobile users, or even some desktop users who are less savvy in the ways of these symbols and variants, aren't going to just be able to type out their name and tag them in certain groups/servers.

I don't think adding some kind of popup warning each time someone enters these text formats is really all that viable, because the amount of times people are going to input them in various locations is going to end up causing them to get that warning tens of hundreds a times a day/week.
I don't feel having a warning pop up may help, since like Rigby and Hadeslicious have stated, normally the person using them does have intention to use them, and it may just make posts more frustrating. While I understand bringing this to their attention could make them aware of the situation, I doubt it would entirely make things more accessible.

I like the idea of addressing how these limit accessibility and having a solution for that, saying as someone who has difficulty reading some special characters due to dyslexia (at least, if I'm thinking of the ones you are, feel free to correct me if I seem like I'm on a different page). However, I do feel there may need another approach to be done to effectively strike that issue while still keeping in mind others' choices, but this is on the right track. If desired some ideas that came to mind as an alternative can be elaborated, but don't want to potentially derail this discussion.
I think another thing to promote with these, as well as knowledge that theyre inaccessible, is to promote things like this - "<3 (red heart emoji)" It's common in the disability groups I'm in and makes it clear what they are. It's used for all emojis, not just emoticons like Lennyface and all that.
Kim Site Admin

I'm not sure we'll be doing a feature about this, but I could see making some educational news posts about how to help out users with disabilities.

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