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W0CHP Ham Radio & Tech Musings

The Ø Character Sucks, and So Do The Hams Who Use Them.

Go ahead…try to type Ø on your computer instantly. I’ll wait. Yeah…no. Not happening.

I see many hams using this special character in their call signs when denoting a zero digit, Guess what? it’s not a digit, geniuses…

It’s actually a letter (Unicode U+00D8).

  • Example: WØCHP

There is also another character I’ve seen used sometimes: ∅. But that still sucks.

  • Example: W∅CHP

It looks like shit, and it’s actually a mathematical “empty set” symbol (Unicode U+2205), not a digit…and is next to impossible to type/search. There’s a similar one to this, which represents the “diameter” engineering symbol (Unicode U+2300).

ALL of these are technically incorrect use cases for the number/digit zero.

Aside from technicalities, these special characters (Unicode) are not readily-available on 101(+) keyboards, and the hex/binary/etc. values to encode them are not well-known to most folks. They copy/paste terribly in many cases. And attempting to perform a web search of dumb-asses who (incorrectly) use these (reserved) characters is a nightmare. Hams who know and use Unicode to make slashed-ohs online think they’re cool. News flash: they’re not. Being technically and semantically correct is cooler.

I’m fairly certain, with the advent of internet technologies bringing even more hams in contact than ever before, and becoming more aware of call sign formats across the globe; that hams can differentiate between an O and an 0 in a call sign.

So Mr. Know-it-all W0CHP, what do you recommend?

Glad you asked!

The recommended way to represent a zero on the web, is to use a damn zero character. If you have control over the rendering, consider using a monospaced font. Decent monospace fonts will render the 0 with a glyph denoting that it’s a literal zero.

  • Example: W0CHP

^^^ Wow! that was fucking easy!

Seriously, everyone can type/copy/paste/search a literal zero. It’s correct, proper and simple.

In conclusion, you’re not cool by (improperly) using Unicode characters in your call sign. It makes you suck. It’s incorrect usage, it breaks during a search/copy/paste, and it screams how ignorant you are. Please do other hams and folks a favor, and stop doing this and stop sucking.