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LinuxPlanet: Editor's Note: Nobody Expects the ISO-8859-1 Inquisition!

Sep 04, 2001, 20:15 (17 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

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"...Smart quotes are considered bad manners among many people, even people who wouldn't touch anything besides Microsoft software. Web design pages that address the existence of the smart quote usually include tips on how to turn off smart quotes in assorted HTML-producing or -exporting software so as to avoid an appearance of thoughtlessness or (worse, on the Web) blithe ignorance of the (strict standards compliance|impoverishment) of non-Microsoft clients.

More than bad manners, an attempt to take over the Web, or badges of a content author's ignorance, smart quotes are, or were, the "Microsoft detectors" of the Linux world: liberal sprinklings of question marks throughout a document are, or were, a dead giveaway that a Microsoft product was present somewhere in the production pipeline. The reaction of many who start noticing them around the web once they make the move to Linux is vaguely akin to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's in John Carpenter's They Live as he dons his special alien-spotting glasses and realizes the world is in the grip of a vast conspiracy of skeletoid monsters. The effect is amplified when they visit a few sites that trumpet independence from Microsoft products but show the tell-tales of the conspiracy to destroy the web right on their own pages.

On a Linux site, the presence of smart quotes are often cause for severe reactions. A site like LinuxToday, which is 90% cut-and-pasted content from all over the Web, has to be especially careful because sites vary wildly even internally when it comes to their use of smart quotes, and it's easy to miss a single tell-tale question mark in the midst of three or four paragraphs of text, especially when you spend all day reading sites that require you subconsciously substitute the appropriate characters.

Sadly, though, it's time to note that the days of curly quotes and their mis-rendering on a Linux browser as an indicator of OS purity are over, depending on the tool that produced them and depending on your browser."

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