Hello there! You are currently visiting gopherspace through a
proxy. To learn more about gopher and how to browse it, read this.

The SDF server delivers gopher content using gophernicus. This
daemon reserves a number of characters at the beginning of the line
for special commands, such as * to display the directory listing.

You can find a list of these characters in README.Gophermap in
gophernicus' github or source code.

Now, suppose I want to use one of these reserved characters at the
beginning of a text line. How do I escape it to show up instead of
executing its special command?

Finding the solution to this was pretty simple. After nc'ing my
own gopherspace to see how plain text lines are sent to clients,
I saw that they actually have their own element type 'i' and use
the same format as links, except that the host and port are dummy

$ echo users/loli | nc sdf.org 70
1Powered by sdf.org Gopherspace<TAB>/<TAB>sdf.org<TAB>70
i .----. ..-----;-;-----.._ .----. <TAB>null.host<TAB>1
i | .--. `' .-. 'v' .--. |<TAB>null.host<TAB>1

After seeing this output, the solution is pretty obvious. Simply
define the lines that start with a special char explicitly as text

(replace <TAB> with actual tabs)
i* Hello<TAB>null.host<TAB>1
i# Blah<TAB>null.host<TAB>1

From my testing I also noticed that omitting the dummy host and
port (leaving only a tab at the end of the line) also works, but I
personally wouldn't rely on it.