I recently rejected some edits to previous posts of mine that used Gb, F# notation where the edit was just replacing these notations with G♭ and F♯, using Unicode code points U+266D–U+266F.

Personally I don't see a point to this — the unicode chars are harder to type and leave more room for error on the rendering side, so I think we should leave it up to the author and seek internal consistency. I rejected the edits as not substantive.

Not wearing the mod hat anymore, I'm not too worried about this, but seeing that the proposed edit was from an enthusiastic new user, I think we should have some guidance on the books: should we proactively be mopping up old posts to use the new unicode glyphs, a la Wikipedia? Yea or nay?


I have accepted these sorts of edits before, on the grounds that the actual music notation symbols look better than # and b, and thus are improvements to the original post. But....

Your comment that use of the Unicode code points may "leave more room for error on the rendering side" has caused me to think again about this. I use the Unicode characters all the time, but I have seen some users complain in the comments that the Unicode characters aren't rendering on their systems. Further, I have noticed that the Unicode characters seem to render as smaller characters, which are often not as legible as their simpler Latin alphabet approximations (especially on smaller screens). E.g. # vs ♯, b vs ♭, x vs 𝄪, bb vs 𝄫. I don't know how to best communicate a natural with a Latin character, but ♯ and ♮ can be difficult to distinguish, so it may be best to use # for sharp and ♮ for natural.

All of this to say that, upon reflection, I don't think that changing these symbols to their Unicode counterparts improves the clarity of a post, and it may even reduce clarity. I won't be accepting these edits any longer, and I may even go back to using Latin characters, except for naturals, in the interest of improved clarity and access.

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    My go-to for natural has always been Bnat. Anyhow my main issue is that I don’t think we can expect the majority of writers of posts to be using these Unicode characters when the usual ascii chars are right there on the keyboard within easy reach. Maybe if there is special support added to the editor in the future it would be more reasonable to expect, but not until then. – NReilingh Aug 29 '18 at 3:16
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    Well, it's not just the platform supporting unicode, it's that the typefaces present on the machine need to include the glyph! Case in point, the double sharp/double flat symbols in your post render just fine in Safari on macOS, but don't render in Safari on iOS. Same platform, but the font on the mobile device doesn't have those symbols. – NReilingh Aug 29 '18 at 3:29
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    I note with slight ironic amusement that the double sharp and double flat unicode characters in this answer do not render on the Windows computer I'm currently using. – Todd Wilcox Aug 31 '18 at 15:35

I'd have to agree that an edit like that is non-substantive and should be rejected.

I get the utility of unicode chars, and if an edit was fixing numerous other problems, then sure, using the correct symbols for sharp and flat would be fine, but the b and # work well enough.

In the case of a new user, I think just reiterative the requirement for substantive change should be enough.


Yes, I agree that simply changing the notation of accidentals is not sufficient grounds for an edit. As long as one method of typing is not clearly superior or something, I think any form of clear expression of accidentals should be okay. Similarly, edits for spelling/grammar issues, in my opinion, should not be accepted unless they are so egregious as to obscure comprehension.

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