When nothing really isn’t nothing

I’ve spent the better part of the past two work days trying to figure out a weird scenario where a few elements in a heavily CSS-based page layout are inexplicably shifting a few pixels to the right. It is generally happening in pages that have content in the left column, whereas pages that do not have content in the left column are displaying normally. However, there are a few pages with empty left columns that still don’t display correctly. Comparing the source code, I discovered that some of the empty left columns nonetheless contain comment tags and those comment tags are what seems to be making the difference. But strangely, it’s the pages that have left column content or have completely empty left columns that are breaking, whereas the only ones that are not breaking are the ones where the left column block contains only comment tags.

Once again, the mysterious Microsoft voodoo amazes and confounds me.