Look at this title:

mangled dashes

The meaning of a long dash? Ah, no, it's --, correctly spelled in the title, but mangled in the title, which means that it's mangled in search engine results too. Or look at this one:

mangled quotes

Well, it won't work if you use and : only ASCII characters such as " have a special effect. Oh, wait, once again that's just because Stack Exchange mangled the title, so it looks wrong on the site and in search engine results.

This is a technical site. We have a lot of questions about and . Exact punctuation is important.

I raised this a long time ago, and the response from a Stack Exchange developer was

We looked at the quotes on the last several hundred posts. While a few would be more correct without fancy quotes, the vast majority are correct and would be negatively impacted by such a change. Given that, we want to stick with the net-positive of replacing the quotes globally.

Yeah, no, that doesn't make sense. Saying that replacing the quotes is “net-positive” doesn't make it so. It's a cosmetic improvement that can be done manually, versus mangling that affects the meaning and can't be bypassed. Please stop mangling punctuation in titles.

  • 2
    So true. Plus I feel offended when any site, text editor or whatever "knows better" what I want to write. The technical aspect should matter the most; but hello! if I cannot even make it stop, this is rude and haughty. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 6:28
  • I agree whole-heartedly. A couple of years ago, I came across this particular bug on Stack Overflow and suggested that Smarty-like formatting of titles be disabled (at least on programming sites). When informed that this behavior was by design, I changed my bug report to a feature request - to no avail. You make a good, solid case in this post so I hope you get a better response than I did. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 15:00

1 Answer 1


We have now disabled all Smarty-like modifications text in titles.

From now on, the title text saved for the post is the title text that will be displayed.

If folks want em-dashes (ALT-0151) and fancy quotes (ALT-0145 through -0148) to appear in titles, they are welcome to add them. But we won’t convert it automatically any longer.

we’re no longer the
smarty-pants who makes changes
to typography

  • Thank you! But if I understand correctly, previously entered titles remain in their modified glyph form, right?
    – AdminBee
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 10:22
  • @AdminBee No, the transformation was done on display, the database contains the correct title. So now the title of Why doesn't alias foo='echo "This is a quote: \'"' work? is rendered sensibly. Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 10:31
  • 1
    Ok, that's great!
    – AdminBee
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 10:33
  • 1
    What's ALT-0151? 151 (in decimal) seems to be the windows-1252 encoding of the U+2014 character (em-dash). Is that how you enter those characters on some deployments of MS Windows? Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 16:45
  • 1
    @StéphaneChazelas, yes.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 16:52

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