I noticed this on the front page

which leads me to this answer

and.. a mysterious empty profile

It seems rather odd to be able to create a blank, difficult to find account - this guy or gal seems to be a user in good standing, but... It seems to be kind of weird nonetheless, what's happening here?

  • 4
    Ah, good old ͏͏͏.
    – slhck
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 14:13
  • user's changed his display name from existing to a Unicode character which seems to be incapable/unable of being rendered.. not sure if bug of Stack Exchange or browser limitation
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 14:13
  • Well, I'm using firefox 23.0.1. Chrome Canary 31.1622.7 canary Aura renders it the same wa, as does IE10 desktop
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Who? Someone by the name of Lauri Ranta.

Why? Based on @Sathya's comment that it was Unicode... it's three of COMBINING GRAPHEME JOINER (U+034F). From Wikipedia:

The combining grapheme joiner (CGJ), U+034F ͏ combining grapheme joiner (HTML: ͏) is a Unicode character that has no visible glyph and is "default ignorable" by applications.

I'm not sure whether this can be considered a bug on SE's part or not. I'm pretty sure they don't allow whitespace-only names - I suppose it would be better to consider non-printable and invisible characters whitespace too, which they evidently don't.

Not-so-useful information: Notepad++ actually does display something for this character. I suppose they only do so to keep the spacing correct without implying whitespace.

Screenshot of the name line in NP++

And it turns out that the grey-dashed-circle in black-dashed-square is actually displayed in several fonts (among them Courier New, Times New Roman and Arial) but not others (notably Calibri and Consolas). Now, at least according to the Wikipedia description, displaying something is technically incorrect. However, it does happen. Certain browser/OS combinations, custom fonts and custom font settings will affect the display of this character in your browser.

  • There are also characters with visible glyphs that are actually just space glyphs (so, well, they do have a glyph but the glyph is just transparent) that are typically used to just make up a fake space character; Stack Exchange deals well with these, but sounds like that user has found another less obvious one. Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 15:21

Just as a side note, it appears that some browser do render something:

IE 10 Win 7:

enter image description here

Chrome OS X:

enter image description here

  • A side note to the side note: this only occurs on specific machines (or maybe OSes), at the moment. Those same browsers are confirmed not to render anything on at least two Win8 machines.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:14
  • And a third note: we have confirmation that it's a Win7/OS X thing. Perhaps it's the drawing APIs being used. I'd personally consider not rendering anything to be the correct behaviour here, however.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:15
  • Nope. Confirmed that it's more a font thing and certain OSes just happen to use those fonts in certain places.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:34
  • @Bob But isn't everyone seeing the same font in these browser? Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:35
  • Yea, that's a bit weird. SU also does define a font via CSS (Trebuchet MS being the default, I think) - I guess that would explain OS X at least. Otherwise, it will eventually fall back to browser-defined fonts (sans-serif), which will vary with browsers. I'd expect those browsers to remain consistent across OSes, but perhaps not. Also, from my limited testing, both the default and the final (Firefox) fallback fonts should display it (there's also some "liberation" and "dejavu sans" fonts I don't have and can't test). Maybe it's actually being displayed via Windows' font fallback mechanism.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:41
  • Firefox has had a fairly good track record of displaying Unicode characters where it should, instead of boxes (beats Chrome from my experience, not sure about IE). Perhaps it's recognising that there shouldn't be anything displayed? This is all speculation.
    – Bob
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:42

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