Using the shrug emoticon in markdown

TLDR: Copy/paste this → ¯\\\_(ツ)_/¯

Longer explanation

I like using the shrugging person emoticon ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) but when I use it in a place that expects markdown, it always ends up looking wrong. Here’s an explanation of what’s going on:

First attempt

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ produces ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (no left arm)

Markdown treats \ as an escape character (see the spec here). This means that the left arm (\) doesn’t display because it is telling the left shoulder (_) to display literally.

Second attempt

¯\\_(ツ)_/¯ produces ¯\(ツ)/¯ (no shoulders + italicized head)

To fix the first attempt, we add another \ to escape the original \. That seems like it would work but because we are no longer escaping the left shoulder (_), markdown uses the shoulders to italicize the head.

Third attempt

¯\\\_(ツ)_/¯ produces ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (perfect!)

To fix the second attempt, we add another \, which re-escapes the left shoulder (_) and cancels the italics. It finally looks right!

Note: if we wanted to be extra careful, we could manually escape the right shoulder as well, so all markdown-y characters are being told to display literally: ¯\\\_(ツ)\_/¯