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Why Your Smiley Face Emoticons Turn Into J's In Emails

The ghost of Wingdings past is haunting you.

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You're reading an email and suddenly there it is: A lonesome J dangling in its own nook of negative space.

Who are you? Why are you here? How did you find me?

Who are you? Why are you here? How did you find me?

According to tech blogger Chris Pirillo, someone at Microsoft decided ":)" should autocorrect to a rounded smiley in another font: Wingdings.

This issue has actually been around since 2010, back when Microsoft released another version of Outlook.

If the sender sends a rich text document and/or HTML email, Microsoft subs in your typed emoticon with a Wingding. So if your computer doesn't support Wingdings, or just isn't feeling that emoticon, it comes up as a sad, eyeless little J. (And sad faces show up as Ls.)

Though he's flagged it with Microsoft several times to no avail, it's not a true bug, Pirillo writes, so long as you don't have Windows running and don't use HTML email. If you use Outlook, his post has a step-by-step guide to disabling these little monsters.

If you don't remember Wingdings, maybe this will jar your Microsoft memories:

Much wow, so visualization.
Microsoft / Via en.wikipedia.org

Much wow, so visualization.

We contacted Pirillo if the issue has changed since 2010. He responded:

Microsoft needs to fix the problem, but they don't see it as a problem.

So, that's the problem.

So there you have it: If you hear the jangly chains of a J, it's the ghost of Wingdings past.

arda savaşcıoğulları / Thinkstock / Kasia Galazka / BuzzFeed