A costume replaced with a question mark in a box

The Question Mark Glitch is a glitch in Scratch 3.0 where some sprites were replaced with a question mark in a box. The glitch was first reported on May 30, 2019[1] but became widespread for a short period on April 8, 2021.[2][3][4]

How it Appears

SVG placeholder.
PNG placeholder.

Whenever a costume fails to load, (either due a slow internet connection, the user's government blocking Scratch, or the servers having issues) or the costume image file is corrupted, it is replaced by a placeholder that is a question mark in a box.[5] For example, uploading an empty SVG file will trigger the question mark since it cannot be processed properly. However, the question mark and box are two separate components merged together; thus, the question mark can be moved. If one goes to the costume editor, the question mark would appear shifted from the box.

Uploading a corrupted PNG file will also trigger the question mark. Because PNG files are in bitmap, the question mark cannot be separated from the box and it won't appear shifted in the costume editor.

Fixing It

Note Warning: If your project was affected by this bug, do not go to the code editor or save it. Doing this will make the question marks permanent.

One method to fix the glitch is to reload the page.

Another method is to close the tab without saving and open it after a few minutes.

April 8, 2021 Outbreak

Assets failing to load on April 8, 2021

A large number of users were affected by this glitch on April 8, 2021. This was caused by a failure in the asset server, where the editor failed to download costumes properly and used the question mark placeholder as a result of the error. The asset server failure was caused by re-processing and re-saving all vector assets, leading to a massive increase in server load that caused intermittent outages.[6][7][8] A Scratch Team member later clarified that they were attempting to restore affected projects to an earlier version and advised users not to continue further work on them.[9]


The bug did not affect all projects, and even within an individual project, some sprites were affected but others were not. Some sprites in backpacks were also affected.[10] The bug affected users on all platforms, as it was a failure on the server.


  1. lawrence_wei. (30/5/2019). "Sprites Appearing as Question Marks[title]" topic:353217
  2. freddyfazfriend. (8/4/2021). "It happened to me." post:5108655
  3. CARLOSBA234. (8/4/2021). "it hapened[sic] to me :(" post:5108713
  4. qaxtoan. (8/4/2021). "Happened to me also." post:5108747
  5. BryceLTaylor. (2/3/2021). "Currently, when an svg fails to load it is replaced with a question mark (?) placeholder asset. When we do this it actually replaces the asset in the scratch project and saving the project changes the asset id in the project.json to the ? image." https://github.com/LLK/scratch-gui/issues/6838
  6. File:April 8 2021 asset store failures.png
  7. https://github.com/LLK/scratch-svg-renderer/issues/219#issuecomment-781663678
  8. https://github.com/LLK/scratch-vm/pull/3026
  9. topic:503423
  10. File:Question Mark Glitch sprite panel.png
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