Arguably, it is the so-called "smart quotes
" which are in fact dumb quotes
and elsewhere on the Web
. Because these quotes are not part of many users' character sets
, they are often rendered as question marks
or other filler
characters. This makes the page
containing said quotes look bad; thus, using these quotes may be safely regarded as a dumb idea
Unless you are certain of the character set in which you are writing -- and in which your readers are viewing your text -- you are best off sticking with the ordinary typewriter-style quotes. In context, these "dumb quotes" can in fact be a smart idea.
Once we are all safely using Unicode and expecting same, of course, there will be little excuse for straight quotes outside of programming languages -- and possibly not even there, if Larry Wall has his way. In such a future, typographical aesthetics may exert thesmselves freely, and "dumb quotes" will indeed be dumb.