Griping about Unicode is a lost cause. It’s no longer the wave of the future; the future is already here. Back in 2012, Google reported that 60% of the web uses Unicode—a figure that is doubtless higher today.
Complaints about smart quotes are legitimate—in some contexts. Word processors and other publishing software with the smart-quotes feature attempt to infer from the surrounding text whether the user intended, for example,
’, or plain old
' with a keystroke corresponding to ASCII 39, also known as Unicode APOSTROPHE (U+0027). Frustration happens when software inevitably guesses incorrectly and compounds when the software makes it difficult for the user to enter the intended character.
Stack Exchange has great Unicode support but does not have the (mis)feature of smart quotes. Over on Stack Overflow, if the site silently changed
print "Hello world" to
print “Hello world”, doing so would ruin helpful advice in many if not most cases. They look the same to human readers but completely different to compilers and interpreters built for programming languages with specific definitions.
When you see curly quotes or other Unicode characters, the user took most likely intended them to appear. Of course, copy-and-paste errors and ”bad typographical taste“ happen, but such cases are exceptional. Further, consider the top Aviation.SE user by reputation at the time of this writing: Peter Kämpf. Yes, he could equivalently render his name as
Peter Kaempf, and given the status of English in aviation, a rude insistence from a native speaker that one of our top contributors not even sign his name in the way that’s most natural to him may be understood on some level.
However, this is a global resource for discussing aviation (in English, for reasons familiar to aviators). Insisting on 7-bit ASCII über alles is socially tonedeaf, technologically backward, and produces less pleasing results.
- It’s 2015. Use modern tools. Three years behind the state of the art—an eternity in the software world—is likely good enough.
- Unicode quotes and smart quotes are distinct concepts. The latter is problematic and is not a feature on Stack Exchange.
- Stack Exchange in general and Aviation.SE in particular serve worldwide audiences. Eschew jingoism.
- Edits such as those cited in the question ought to be flagged as petty Luddite vandalism.