The Magically hiding TalkTalk content

A few months ago there was a bit of problem with TalkTalk users who were getting blank emails.

The same email in any other email client were rendering as coded, it was just TalkTalk.

Eventually enough people moaned and TalkTalk updated the rendering to fix the problem.

However, a tiny number of senders reported that they were still having this problem, one of them was a customer of mine.

I had a look through their HTML to find out what they were coding that others weren’t.

I tracked it down to a hidden pre-header, which was coded in a way that was causing only TalkTalk’s renderer to think the entire email was commented out.

Here’s the code:



As you may be able to spot, the closing conditional has an extra opening comment tag. It was this opener that TalkTalk seemed to carry through to the rest of the email; so as far as TalkTalk was concerned, all of the message was commented out, thus hiding all content below it.

On further investigation, we found that the code was copied and pasted from a very old post in the Litmus community forum, from a comment by the legendary Mark Robins, about how to hide a preheader.

I ask Mark if that was deliberate or a typo, and he told me it was on purpose but he couldn’t remember why, it was a long time ago.

Either way, I removed it, tweaked the styles a little bit and it was fine again in TalkTalk and everywhere else…



While I’m here I’d also like to point out the commented space just inside the conditional.

Without that, MS Outlook was skipping the hidden preheader for its snippet in the inbox, under the subject line and taking the next bit, which was the url of a linked image. When I added it back, MS Outlook was behaving normally again.

Classic inbox weirdness.