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Konqueror (default Linux browser), NEVER renders the star in SERPS, it *does*, however, render a little star in the title of the browser window when displaying a page that has used this technique...
Seems to nullify the question of spam IMHO...
You will notice that Google returns different character sets, sometimes utf-8 sometiems the ISO one... It depends on the URL parameters but I've also seen it vary with browsers and time of day...
In a way it'S a bug if inconsistancy. I sure wish they'd do a massive clean up of their returned HTML some day.
In the meantime, ALWAYS check view source when you see/don't see special characters. You will find almost certainly that nothing has changed today or in recent months. Nothing but the every reliable inconsitency and variety of google.
joined:Mar 3, 2003