Yesterday, Mari-Lou A told me one of my posts wasn't formatting correctly (I forget which one). But I couldn't see anything wrong, and while we were exchanging comments (to the effect that both of us were using the Chrome browser under Vista), apparently her problem went away.

A few minutes ago I noticed that this post of mine was completely misformatted. Using "edit" to check the actual text I got the impression things were going wrong wherever I'd used asterisks to delineate italicised text.

As I write this text, I see that the word "asterisks" above isn't displaying correctly (presumably because of the asterisks enclosing it). But "this post of mine" displayed correctly for me when I opened that page to get the address for a link here.

If it hadn't been for Mari-Lou, I'd just assume my system is internally messed up. But as I write this I'm using Chrome under XP. So I don't think this is a browser or OS problem, and I doubt it's peculiar to just us two.

This looks like a bug. Does anyone know what's going on?

This might be a valid screenshot of this screen (I don't see the second "this" there)...

my screen

EDIT: I don't recall rebooting the XP machine this post was written on yesterday. It's my "home network server", which I usually turn on/off when I get up/retire. I did that today and everything displays correctly.

Since two users have just experienced what looks like the same problem under two different OS's, I think this post should remain open in case it affects others in future. But I don't know if "problem resolved itself without explanation" is a valid reason for removing the bug tag, so I'll leave that for others to decide.

  • I assume you're referring to the on-the-fly rendering under the box where you type your answer? Could be a browser issue. Could you say exactly which version of Chrome you are running? And adding screenshots would be helpful.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 23:05
  • @ Andrew Leach: It's Version 39.0.2171.95 m, but I thought Chrome auto-updated to latest version all the time anyway. Right now it's not going wrong, but I'm not sure I'd know how to capture an uploadable screenshot if I could get an example at my end. Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 23:34
  • (a) Chrome may not update if you're still running XP. (b) Alt-PrtSc to capture the window, then paste into MS Paint or something and manipulate (eg crop) as necessary. [And I can't reproduce any problem in Firefox on Win7]
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 23:36
  • @ Andrew Leach: The linked answer page is okay, but this page still shows blanks for the word "asterisks". a: Chrome says it's up-to-date. It's not like XP has suddenly become irrelevant to people like Google just because Microsoft stopped trying to support it. Commented Dec 13, 2014 at 23:47
  • The italicised word asterisks in your question above is displayed correctly for me on XP Pro 32bits SP3, both in Chrome and in Firefox, both latest version (presumably). Never in my history on SE have I encountered this issue. My XP hasn't been updated in years, so a recent patch may theoretically have introduced the problem (unlikely...). Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 1:01
  • Pops her head round the corner. Definitely in FF post there were huge gaps in place of the words in bold (i.e. double asterisks and = signs as well) I was about to take a screenshot when I occidentally closed my browser, by this time FF had edited his post and there was no more problem. I have Vista, and my browser is Chrome.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 14:58
  • Are you using any form of plugin or extension for any kind of automation whatsover in the browser? Have you put the system in some hibernation mode at some point before you had the symptoms?
    – user98955
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 2:33
  • @Amphiteóth: Both machines drop into "standby" when unused for a few minutes, but I don't use "hibernate". I haven't changed anything on either for over 6 months (apart from automated updates to installed s/w, and I don't recall noticing/authorising any of those lately). If I restored either machine from the last backup several months ago, I wouldn't expect to notice any change, since all my docs, music, etc. are on separate data drives. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 3:14

3 Answers 3


It's OK in Chrome 35.0.1916.153 dev-m on Windows 7:

Screen shot of this question showing italics

Updated to Version 39.0.2171.95 dev-m and it looks the same. So, it's either something to do with XP (although Cerberus sees nothing unusual), or it's a glitch with fonts on your computer. Even that is slightly odd, because the page title uses Georgia Italic, and that's fine. It may be something to do with how your machine renders that font at that particular size.

Currently I'd say "Can't reproduce", but if it only affects Stack Exchange pages, and others chime in with similar experiences, then it may be something to pass on to developers.

I take it you have rebooted the machine? That sounds like a cop-out, but it clears data held wrongly in memory, allows pointers to be reset and the like. It can fix problems with fonts.

  • Per edited answer, I never rebooted yesterday, but it works today after having been turned off overnight. My XP machine is definitely as sick as a parrot (though not quite as dead as the Monty Python one! :) but it's never done anything like that before. So thanks for the response, but I'm sure you'll understand that I don't really want to "accept" this answer (not yet, leastways). Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 15:51

Not sure if it's okay for me to post this as an "answer". But maybe it's better than cluttering up the original question. Anyway, here's another screenshot (on Chrome+XP)... duff display

...where the question title is missing. As soon as I saw that, I opened another browser window and went to the same page. Here's the second tab, where the title shows correctly as I write... okay display

In this case, there are no asterisks around the text that's not displaying correctly, but it is (or would be) in italics because that's hard-coded within the UI. It may be worth taking special note of the fact that both the valid and invalid display are right there in two different "tabs" on the same instance of the Google browser (the third tab in the screenshots is the one I'm using to enter this).

EDIT: GARRRGH!!! - I haven't noticed any more problems with missing italic text that hit me for 2-3 days starting a week ago, but today I've just had this. The large digit 0 for this "question net vote score" is missing (but displayed correctly when I copied the address into a new window). In the absence of any useful pointers, perhaps I'll do a full system restore...

enter image description here

  • 1
    Confirm the same behaviour on my browser.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 8:24
  • I think this is a bug in Chrome, not SE. (That is Chrome on XP/Chrome on Vista; something in those combinations is causing it. Chrome on Win7 seems OK)
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 12:54
  • @Mari-Lou: I can't find anything about this in any recent posts on the Google Chrome Help Forum, but I notice that people there are often asked what "extensions" they have enabled. FWIW I've got Adblock Plus, Google Dictionary, Google Docs, and Speed Dial, but it seems unlikely any of those would affect text display. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 13:50
  • I doubt the extensions are the problem, I've had them for years and they've never caused me any bother. I suspect it may have something to do with leaving the computer on without putting it on standby, perhaps an overload of cached images and files? Anyway, I have the following extensions installed: AdBlock; Awesome Screenshot: Capture & Annotate; FlashBlock; Google Dictionary (by Google); ScrewAds - Block, Skip, Remove YouTube Ads; and YouTube Downloader: MP3 / HD Video Download. The bare minimum.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 16:55
  • It's also worth noting that each tab in Chrome runs as an entirely separate process, unlike Firefox which has one process managing everything. So Chrome's tabs can all behave differently, depending on the OS memory management, resource allocation and all sorts.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 23:19
  • The headings: Questions, tags, users etc. are also missing!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 6:21

It's happened to me again. There are blanks in place of words in bold or in italics. This is what I currently see on WS2's question

enter image description here

I would give you its title but that's gone as well...

enter image description here

Laptop Aspire 6930; OS Windows Vista (I can hear you Macintoshes sniggering. Stop it.), Chrome browser Version 39.0.2171.95 m

Third episode

enter image description here

Time to switch off. Night.

UPDATE Feb 15 2015

Not again!! Can someone help me? Please?

enter image description here


Uninstall Chrome, reboot, and immediately re-install Chrome. It at least helped in finally getting rid of the adware and malicious programmes that had infested my browser (together with manually deleting 200 files... but that's another story.)

  • Ahh. Now you all know I upvoted his question....
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 22:27
  • Downvoted!?? What. Are you nuts? I displayed a screenshot to confirm Fumble Fingers post. It's a "BUG".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 22:39
  • 2
    Seriously, to the person who downvoted me, are you saying you disagree this happened? What's up with some of you people?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 22:42
  • Apparently it's you & me against the rest of the world! Why on earth would someone downvote this? I can accept the idea that most users don't care (because this isn't happening to them), so I'm not bothered that only one person (you?) has upvoted my question here. But a downvote? Weird. Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 23:10
  • Perhaps the bug that you and @FumbleFingers have encountered is causing the text in question to be rendered with the same colour as the background. You can test for this by selecting/highlighting the text in question with your cursor: if the bug is doing what I surmise, you should see the text displayed in white against a blue background. If no text is visible in the highlighted area, something else is going on.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 12:07
  • @ErikKowal I refreshed the page and the text became visible again. I have been battling with malicious malware: "mystartsearch" and "Vaaudeiax" that have infested my laptop since Friday. I can't get rid of them from Chrome—I'm doing everything I can, including deleting values etc. from the registry. I think they may be responsible also for this bug.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 12:11
  • You say that "mystartsearch" and "Vaaudeiax" have been on your system since last Friday, but the asterisk bug has been with you since at least 2014-12-14. For that reason, I am sceptical that the malware you mention is responsible. So far, the evidence points more strongly to an issue connected with how Chrome renders StackExchange's protocols for formatting italicized text (and possibly for the formatting of other text attributes, judging from a comment you made in response to Fumblefinger's answer).
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 12:26
  • @ErikKowal Yes, but I think I may have had several infected/malicious/hijack files in the system prior to Friday. I only got my laptop back a week ago besides I really don't know what the cause is, I'm not a computer geek.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 12:31

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