Discussion Forums - Questions about PaperBackSwap Questions about PaperBackSwap

Topic: The small black diamonds with ? in them---where are they coming from?

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: The small black diamonds with ? in them---where are they coming from?
Date Posted: 12/29/2015 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2010
Posts: 15,772
Back To Top

I noted a few in my sig and in my profile. Now I see them in others' sigs as well. What are they about and why have they suddenly crept into siggies and profiles?

I've now gone back to settings and deleted mine, we'll see if they remain deleted.



Last Edited on: 12/29/15 6:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2015 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,555
Back To Top

I don't see any diamonds in your signature.

Unless you're talking about in any pictures.  I have all that stuff turned off.  All I see is "Writing is the craft of the illusionist."...J.F.Englert as Randolph

Date Posted: 12/29/2015 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/30/2007
Posts: 9,770
Back To Top

I just noticed them when I logged on a few minutes ago.... There was a problem with them a few years back. I will have to check my notes...

Subject: The Mystery of the Diamond ?s
Date Posted: 12/29/2015 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2009
Posts: 52
Back To Top

I have several in my profile. I tried to delete them, and it worked for some of them, but some remained. 

Case in point, I see them in my signature block and cannot get them to go away!



Last Edited on: 12/29/15 8:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2015 9:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
Back To Top

These are a font issue with the site. It is not correctly reading what we have entered. So the diamonds or question marks show up when the system cannot identify the character. Looks like the system was either updated or has not yet recovered from the power outages related to the storms. 

Sometimes they are because of different browsers are not communicating with each other. One operating system might have a font that is not supported under another. 

They should be resolved. It may take some time. But it has already improved. 

 

Date Posted: 12/30/2015 9:18 AM ET
Member Since: 3/30/2007
Posts: 9,770
Back To Top

I sent in feedback. If you send feedback to PBS, the staff would like to know the location or URL of diamonds or other characters.

Date Posted: 12/30/2015 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2009
Posts: 52
Back To Top

Weird. It can't just be a font issue, because where I see them in my profile, it's in a space between words. Not where a character or punctuation mark is..

Date Posted: 12/31/2015 2:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
Back To Top

Agh! They are getting worse rather than better.

Date Posted: 12/31/2015 12:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2009
Posts: 52
Back To Top

The black diamond question has gone and now I see this in it's place: ï¿½

Curiouser and curiouser. 

Date Posted: 1/1/2016 7:42 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,814
Back To Top

Lynn, that looks a bit like a face.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 1/1/2016 9:33 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,145
Back To Top

I started to write out explanations with a solution for the problem and it got kind of long, so let me put the resolution first and hopefully more people will see it:

1) If you see the black diamond with question mark, do not attempt to fix this yourself. Editing the text will help temporarily but will make the problem worse in the long run. Instead, send in feedback with the URL of the page that has the problem so PBS can fix the HTML.

2) If you see text that now has its special characters displayed as � or some similar 2-character representation, that is text that someone tried to fix manually to get rid of the black diamonds. PBS has fixed the HTML on the page, but they can't go back and undo all the manual text edits that were done in the meantime. The only way to fix it now is to edit it again.

Here's the explanation for those who like to know what causes this stuff:

This problem is caused by a mismatch between the character set specified in the HTML that's sent to your browser and the one configured in the database. All text including your forum posts, signatures, book descriptions, titles, etc, are stored in the database. It seems that someone changed the charset in the site pages, so the text was being sent as charset ISO-8859-1 from the database, but the instructions in the HTML headers told our browsers it was actually Unicode. Special characters such as accented letters and some punctuation are stored differently in Unicode and our browsers couldn't interpret the ISO chars they were getting, so they showed the unknown char icon (black diamond with question mark) instead.

The correct way to fix this is for a PBS programmer to put back the ISO-8859-1 charset specification in their HTML. I believe they have done that because the book title on my wish list that has an accented e is now displaying properly where before it had the black diamond.

However, anyone who attempted to fix this by editing text or signatures now has the new problem described above by Lynn. While the pages were misconfigured, our browsers were sending Unicode to the server, and it was storing that in the database as if it was ISO text. So now we are getting the Unicode version of special characters and punctuation, and those display as two characters. There are a variety of two-char combinations you might see, but one is �.

Date Posted: 1/1/2016 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2009
Posts: 52
Back To Top

MSCOZY - It does look a bit like a face. But really, there's nothing there. It's just a space & not a special character. Again I say, weird.

Date Posted: 1/1/2016 2:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
Back To Top

Than you for the explanation, Cathy.

Date Posted: 1/1/2016 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2010
Posts: 15,772
Back To Top

Cathy, I edited both my signature and profile bioby deleting the black diamonds before starting this thread. So far nothing more has come. Fingers crossed.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 1/1/2016 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,145
Back To Top

Marya - if you just deleted them, they're fine. The problem would be if you tried to replace the black diamond with whatever character was there before.

Date Posted: 1/1/2016 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2010
Posts: 15,772
Back To Top

Thanks, Cathy.

Date Posted: 1/2/2016 2:06 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
Back To Top

I had one black diamond with a ? in my profile when I checked two days ago and I simply deleted it without replacing it with something else. The profile still looks good with no other odd characters displaying at this time.

Date Posted: 1/4/2016 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,755
Back To Top

I've had this happen to my account a few times in last 3 years.  The diamonds were always replacing punctuation in my case so just deleting wasn't very helpful.  Seems it always got fixed by PBS in under a week.

Date Posted: 1/5/2016 2:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
Back To Top

I got an email from the Team today in response to my feedback about this problem and they said they are working on it.