Confusing error message when ICQ users have different encodings

Bug #253452 reported by amarradi on 2008-07-30
This bug affects 35 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
empathy (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Binary package hint: empathy

Hello together,

i installed empathy 0.22.1 out of the ubuntu repositories. And always when i chat in the ICQ Network i get an Errormessage when i chat with other ICQ Peoples.
The bug is only there when they writes german letters like öäüß
(There was an error receiving this message. Either you and <icqnumber> have different encodings selected, or <icqnumber> has a buggy client.)

Has anyoneelse this problem.

Bye Marcus

Guillaume Desmottes (cassidy) wrote :

Could you retry using Intreprid or you are still using Hardy with the packages from the Telepathy PPA:

benste (benste) wrote :

I'm using interpid which is up to date and there is still this error,
+ some features from pidgin are really missing in empathy:
I can't group multiple account (If someone has ICQ MSN and GTALK)
and sound on new message is missing
OTR is missing !!


could you keep focused in this precise bug (encoding issue) please?
for other issue, please add comment to their respective bug or enter a new bug.


benste (benste) wrote :

ok but what to do?

blubiblub (matthias-beyerle) wrote :

This is not a bug.
Just enter the correct ISO norm in the account settings. I.e. west european users type ISO-8859-15.
Then your german 'umlaute' should work.

Maybe empathy should detect the correct character encoding.

summary: - empathy has an ICQ Encoding error
+ Confusing error message when ICQ users have different encodings
Pedro Villavicencio (pedro) wrote :

Could you please try the same with latest empathy on Jaunty or use the telepathy PPA and test with version 2.27.X ?

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Low
status: New → Incomplete
Anton Kraus (done) wrote :

The bug still exists in Karmic's empathy 2.27.2-1ubuntu1.

Kai Mast (kai-mast) wrote :

Please at least remove the annoying message. I don't care for broken umlauts that much.

Brian Curtis (bcurtiswx) wrote :

I almost feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but could you try it with the most recent empathy ? theres a lot of changes that went into Empathy since then

Kai Jauch (kaijauch) wrote :

Empathy still has this problem. I don't have any issues when I'm chatting with someone who is using pidgin. Chatting with someone who is using ICQ 5.1 causes the error message to appear. Empathy then prints question marks instead of umlauts.

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
Fred Seidemann (fred-85) wrote :

Same problem here, using Ubuntu 9.10 and Empathy 2.28.0, chatting with windows ICQ people.

Johan (johan-andersson-78) wrote :

Any progress on fixing this?

I have the same problem.
Error message:
(There was an error receiving this message. Either you and <ICQ-no> have different encodings selected, or <ICQ-no> has a buggy client.)

Running Empathy 2.28.0 with Karmic (9.10) on an amd64 machine.

Johan (johan-andersson-78) wrote :

Just a note:

Selecting text-coding in the account settings is not the easiest. A click-down (is it called that?) menu with possible choises would make it much easier.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

The issue is an upstream one and it would be nice if somebody having it could send the bug the to the people writting the software (

Johan (johan-andersson-78) wrote :

Bug reported in Gnome bugzilla.


benste (benste) wrote :

Would so be so kind to add french special chars like é è ô in topic ? thx - I'll push that ito bugzilla too

benste (benste) wrote :

Pedro, what are the criterias to increase importance level ? I think this bug here will be very annoying for most European UBuntu users in karmic

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged

Hey there,

i can confirm this Bug too.

The error message is very annoying for european people using the new standart messanger. Disable the Message would help for now. For the LTS Version in April there has to be a solution if empathy will stay the standart messanger.

If any Help is needed just send me a Message...


chross (chross33) wrote :

Same bug for me
at least provide an option for turning error messages off...

johannes140 (johannes140) wrote :

Changing the charset from UTF-8 to ISO-8859-15 resolves this problem. Do so by opening contact list - edit - accounts - advanced and changing the charset as mentioned above. click apply to reconnect to icq with new charset.

hope it helps :-)

benste (benste) wrote :

this patched the issue for me too (german) tested with ß öüä èéê ç

Thanks Johannes, (I didn't see where to change text encoding in emapthy - as this solution was already on bugzilla ...)

I can confirm this bug running Empathy with Karmic (9.10) on an amd64 machine.

onli (onli) wrote :

Empathy is almost unusable with these warnings and the option to change this is not userfriendly nor even easy to find when you know it exists. Having to fix a non-usable defaultprogram should not be of low priority.

Kai Mast (kai-mast) wrote :

>Empathy is almost unusable with these warnings and the option to change this is not userfriendly nor even easy to find when you know it exists.
>Having to fix a non-usable defaultprogram should not be of low priority.

Full ack. You cannot replace Pidgin and introduce dozends of regressions..

benste (benste) wrote :

I think it's defenitly true, as this bug is already ongoing since older versions it may be nice to increase the priority at least for lucid, but remember the actual work is done upstream - see gnome bug link above

Jens Böning (jensel) wrote :

IMHO, this bug qualifies for the 100 papercuts project as it is an annoying usability inconvenience affecting a large group of users. Somebody should nominate this.

onli (onli) wrote :

@Jens Böning: I agree. Tried it via "Also affects project".

Vish (vish) wrote :

Thank you for taking the time to report this bug and helping to make Ubuntu better.
If I'm reading this bug correct , this is a problem which arises only with German characters?
Marking this bug "incomplete" since this does not affect the majority of the user base.

For further information about papercuts criteria, please read

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Incomplete
Kai Mast (kai-mast) wrote :

Why doesn't this affect the majority of the userbase? There are a lot of germans in the open-source community. And even more have german friends or speak german as their foreign language.

Jens Böning (jensel) wrote :

@mac_v This bug affects anyone who is chatting with a person using a differing character encoding (Windows users). The encoding mismatch garbles all non-latin characters which exist in most European languages besides English, and prints the mentioned error message on every single occurrence.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

The issue is that you can't autodetect encoding, that has to be specified in the preferences by the users...

onli (onli) wrote :

@mac_v: You know how big the german userbase is? I can't imagine you really want to say that it's not a papercut-issue because it only affects the german users. Besides, like Jens Böning said, it isn't. As far as I can see, all the criteria are matched.
1. It's an unintended problem
2. It makes empathy unpleasant to use
3. It's easy to fix (see below)
4. The average european encounters it the first day, all others could do, necessary to trigger this is only a encoding-mismatch.
5. part of ubuntu-desktop and the default configuration.

@Sebastian Bacher: To fix this bug we don't have to autodetect the encoding. Simply surpressing the message would fix the issue.

Sebastien Bacher (seb128) wrote :

it would make work easier for everybody if user stop fighting over bug comments to argue whether a bug is a hundredpapercut or not, we fixed bugs for years before this project and we will continue to do so even if the said bug is not picked by the hundredpapercuters now, that issue seems rather a normal bug to fix for lucid

Sergey (sergey-dodo) wrote :

This bug affects russian users also. Setting encoding to cp1251 does not help - offline messages still say about different encodings between clients, while online chat works fine. Empathy version

Hey! in karmic with Empathy it works fine to set encoding for the icq-account to ISO8859-1 or ISO8859-15

I'm a little bit confused, why this is not the standard encoding since all my ICQ-buddy seem to use it?

Also it may be there is missing a CONVERSION if empathy could guess or know the Buddies encoding...

I definitely agree that the error message is annoying... it should occur only in an error log file or so...

Ted Garrison (tgarrison3) wrote :

Agree with Robert J. Schulz. Empathy in Ubuntu Karmic (9.10) fully up-to-date has this issue when recieving messages from a Windows ICQ user. English speaking. In New York.

MKlyuzhev (mklyuzhev) wrote :

I have the same issue on Empathy (Carmic x64) with Cyrillic characters, when receiving message from Windows based clients (didn't check others).

Vish (vish) on 2010-01-11
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
importance: Undecided → Low
status: Incomplete → Triaged
Tim Sin (roxxor) wrote :

Confirmed with up-to-date karmic.

miholeus (nigel-webmaster) wrote :

The problem is that you and your friends use different encondings. So choose proper encoding in your account settings as it was written above. For russian users choose WINDOWS-1251

Laryllan (laryllan) wrote :

Bug still there in Lucid Alpha-3

gerstrong (gerstrong) wrote :

Bugs still there in Ubuntu 10.04 beta 1 with the latest updates. Empathy version 2.30.0

Samuel Mehrbrodt (sam92) wrote :

Will this be fixed for Lucid final? It's just a matter of changing the encoding but a novice doesn't know that.
In Germany most people I know use ICQ and that bug is a big lack.
So please, fix this!

Changed in empathy:
status: Unknown → New
moravian (moravian) wrote :

Same issue with Czech characters

Quitman (crizzb) wrote :

the "ISO-8859-15" thing works, thanks for that! :)

Broco (broco2002) wrote :

Bug still exists in 10.04.
I don't understand why Pidgin was replaced by such a faulty program.
I mean... you can discuss about the design stuff and so on but this is a bug which affects usability of a program which should make Ubuntu "more human" and easier to use.
Compared to Pidgin this is a huge step back.
By the way, file-transfer also doesn't work out of the box.
Now I switched back to Pidgin because I don't want to mess around with such simple things like messengers.
I gave Empathy a chance and it didn't deserve it.
The bug isn't taken serious enough by the developers and distributors since more than one year so why is it still the default messenger?

MichiGreat (michi20091979) wrote :

I am also affected by this bug (Ubuntu NBR 9.10). Using this bug report, I could change the encoding and umlauts are now displayed correctly. Anyway, I am really angry that this bug didn't get attention. It's not okay to expect an unexperienced user who doesn't even know what a character encoding is to change such setting. Users just get angry if they see an error message that give them no chance to easily solve the problem themselves. It they are in progress of changing from Windows to Ubuntu (that was the goal of Mark Shuttleworth, see bug #1), they will assume Ubuntu - not Empathy! - to be faulty and will have a bad opinion of Ubuntu and GNU/Linux in general for years. Small bugs like this one can cause a severe damage for Ubuntu which is really sad, because the bug could have been solved easily (use Pidgin instead of Empathy as default messenger).

I hope that this bug will be solved until version 12.04 LTS.

I also have this bug and would like a solution that does not imply entering the encoding manually as I am way to lazy to do it. Plus, I speak three different languages on my ICQ so a one encoding solution would not work.

McFly81 (christian-lange-81) wrote :

I'm also affected by this bug (Ubuntu 10.04 final).
Would it be possible to write a routine that detects the charset the message is sent in and convert it to the charset used by empathy? Example: I set Empathy to use utf8. My contact send's me a message from a Windows machine using latin1. Empathy recognizes this (i think it does already cause it tells me everytime that the client of my contact is an old one and/or is buggy) and converts the message from latin1 to utf8.
I agree with JC: Some of my contacts use windows machines, some Linux/Unix and some MacOS. It's a bit complicated to agree with them all to use one and only one character encoding, regardless of the machine or OS they use.

Vish (vish) on 2010-06-11
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: none → maverick-round-3-chat

I have the same problem with Lucyd 32 bits, talking in ICQ with german people.

But changing from UTF-8 to ISO-8859-15, works fine :)

Changed in empathy:
importance: Unknown → Medium
Vish (vish) on 2010-11-23
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: maverick-round-3-social-networking → nt2-social-networking
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
assignee: nobody → Papercuts Ninja (papercuts-ninja)
Kai Mast (kai-mast) wrote :

The "fix" doesn't work for me anymore...

Did ICQ switch encodings with the latest update??

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
milestone: nt2-social-networking → precise-2-social-networking
Changed in empathy:
status: New → Incomplete
Changed in empathy:
status: Incomplete → Unknown
Changed in hundredpapercuts:
assignee: Papercuts Ninjas (papercuts-ninja) → nobody
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