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Old 07-23-2007, 08:15 AM
Indesicant Indesicant is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27

Black diamond question mark


I've come across a few of my sites on the server at my work that are showing up with Black Diamonds with question marks in them. It seems like just recently have we started having this problem, sites that have been up for a while now without these problems are now having them. What could be the cause of this so that we may look into it?


Derek Keith
Indesicant Designs / Owner

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Old 07-23-2007, 08:28 AM
Indesicant Indesicant is offline
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Also as far as I know the servers are ubuntu linux, and the charset is UTF-8. In IE it just shows an empty square, in firefox a black diamond with a white question mark...

Derek Keith
Indesicant Designs / Owner

Old 07-23-2007, 11:14 PM
Czaries Czaries is offline
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Location: Central USA
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You're on the right track - It's a character-set issue. Get a tool that inspects the response headers of the server (like the Firebug extension if you're using Mozilla Firefox) to see what character set the server response is sending with the content. If the server's character-set and the HTML character set of the actual content don't match up, you will see some strange looking characters like those little black diamond squares.

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Old 07-25-2007, 08:48 PM
Czaries Czaries is offline
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Also, I just dug up this website you will want to look at:

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Old 07-25-2007, 08:58 PM
Indesicant Indesicant is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
I appreciate the help, I haven't had a chance to look at it as I've been busy with some other various work, but as soon as I get a chance i'll try it out. You've been pretty helpful and you've given about the only sensible advice. Everyone else insists on it being the files themselves, but i'm almost positive that it's a server issue.

Derek Keith
Indesicant Designs / Owner

Old 07-26-2007, 02:57 PM
gbjbaanb gbjbaanb is offline
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moved to tech issues

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Old 07-26-2007, 04:57 PM
mwatkins mwatkins is offline
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Location: Vancouver
Posts: 2,416
Its definitely a character set issue.

See this thread where I post a quick set of things you can try, and links for learning:

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Old 07-28-2007, 12:08 PM
Fran2007 Fran2007 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1
Hi, Derek
What you're looking at is the result in the difference in what character set your browser is interpreting, versus the character set originally typed into the form, saved in the database, or saved on the page. In other words, there's a discrepency in "charset". Below, I provide a checklist that should help in most situations.

I know when I first saw the black diamond with question mark, I was using a research tool I had created, which includes a script to pull and print some lines from another site. There were sometimes numerous "Windows" special characters in the page code of other sites. When I changed my Safari browser from default (which was set at UTF-8) to Western ISO Latin 1, the text was normalized; and I could read it.

That was a short-term, immediate fix. Of course, I, like you, needed a long term, permanent solution.

It's possible, as you thought, that the "wrong signals" are being sent by the server; but you should be able to correct this if you have control of the scripts on the server. More on that below.

Here is a checklist:
1. TEXT FILES, SAVE AS: If you are uploading any pages to the server, you should make sure the page content is SAVED AS (option) Unicode (UTF-8, no BOM), rather than the default (probably Latin1). The UTF-8 BOM causes a lot of problems at this time (especially in PHP); so output _without_ the BOM.

2. DYNAMIC SCRIPT: script output:

PERL: Instead of the requisite line,
print "Content-type: text/html\r\n\r\n";
use the following line:
print qq|Content-type: text/html; charset="utf-8"\r\n\r\n|;

PHP: Output this header before content output:
header("Content-type: text/html; charset='utf-8'");

3. HTML: On any html pages output by a script, or by a WYSIWYG editor, or rolled by hand, add the meta tag "charset" identifier before opening the title tag. In fact, it should be the first meta tag after the head tag is opened. This method is suppose to force the browser to reparse everything if it wasn't parsing in that character set in the first place. (However, I can't validate that.) In other words, do this:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">

4. XML/XHTML: With XML pages, declare the "charset" in the opening line, like:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
In xhtml documents, I still add in the meta tag from tip #3, above, for good measure.

5. FORM: To assist with properly encoded form input from your guests and members, use the "accept-charset" form attribute, like this:
<form method="post" accept-charset="utf-8">

6. DATABASE: Finally, you may want to set your database default character set to utf-8 if you are storing utf-8 input.

Fran Corpier

Old 10-06-2010, 04:01 AM
jstuttler jstuttler is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1
Arrow Found a fix

I know this post is REALLY old, but this funky question mark diamond character has been driving me crazy all night. I finally found a solution to it.

First off, I was getting this character when I was uploading a tab delimited file using PHP. The file itself is from Google's Adsense reporting. Google has labelled the downloaded file as a CSV file, though it is actually a tab-delimited values file versus a comma separated values file. Anyway, I wanted to save the file to my desktop, then upload it to my web site via a PHP script and store the data in a MySQL database.

The simple fix (in PHP):

PHP Code:
  $file "path_to_file.csv";
$fh fopen($file'rb'); /* 'rb' is to read a binary file on a Windows system */
$line fread($fhfilesize($file));
$old = array("\n""\r\n""&#10""&#09""%09""%20""\0");
$new = array("""""""&nbsp; &nbsp; "","" """);
$l nl2br($line);
$l2 explode("<br />"$l);
  foreach (
$l2 as $k => $v){
    if (!empty(
      if ((
stristr($v"D") === FALSE) && (stristr($v"T") === FALSE) && (stristr($v"A") === FALSE)){
$full str_replace($old$new$v);
$data explode("\t"trim($full));
        if (
stristr($data[0], "/")){
insert_adsense_line($data[0], $data[1], $data[2], $data[3], $data[4], $data[5]);
I know this code is a bit sloppy, but hey, I've been up for 17 hours working on this damn thing...I will clean up my script tomorrow...

The important thing here is the $old array. In it, you will see the last string "\0". That is a zero, not a capital O. It was this character that was causing the issue. Once I replaced "\0" with "" (a blank no-character string), the funky question mark disappeared and the file is being processed as I need it to.

Additionally, I made sure that my database table is set to utf8_bin.

I hope this helps!

Old 01-10-2012, 05:30 AM
simonalsa simonalsa is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
Question Nice one

Many thanks for sharing the solution


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