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The pages do validate, and no search engines have a problem with it, except that the yahoo cache converts it to <a href="example.com"> <sup>1</sup></a>
This severely messes up how the cached page looks and acts. Anyone else see this?
Smith et. al<sup>1
This is sort of the opposite of what you're seeing; In your case it was the </sup> closing tag that got changed to HTML character-entities. In my case, it was the opening <sup> tag. Because of this difference in our applications, it looks like a problem handling <sup>s nested within other tags.
So that's a confirmation of what appears to be a fairly straightforward bug.
if the style is in front of the href part of the tag, then the cache spits out the whole <a> tag instead of showing a link.(not sure if you use the cache to spider or count links...if so, that could be a major issue with your link part of the algo)
i will look for and sticky you an example.