[Idna-arabicscript] Reasons for disallowing Arabic script digitmixing at the protocol level

John C Klensin klensin at jck.com
Wed Mar 11 22:13:54 CET 2009


All other issues aside, and with the understanding that this may
be just a misunderstanding (I hope that is the case) I'm
disappointed by the tone of your note.  There are, or have been,
groups all over the world discussing the topics about which the
IDNABIS WG will ultimately have to decide or figure out how to
move forward while not deciding.  The level of expertise and
scope of those groups differ.  Some consider and have knowledge
about a single language or single country, some are broader;
some understand the DNS technology and IDNA and the limitations
they impose while others do not; some are primarily concerned
with the right of someone to create artistic domain name
graffiti or to write orthographically-correct in the DNS while
others are much more concerned with identifier integrity and
consequently with narrow definitions of identifiers.

As you certainly know from your other work and experience, it is
often easier for someone who is not particularly involved in the
specific subject matter of one group but who understands the
vocabulary or another to sit in on meetings of the first, ask
questions, and then try to explain the results to the second
than it is for the participants in the first group to become
active participants in the second.  Sometimes it does not work
perfectly, or even well, but neither do the alternatives.

Those groups are also not required to invite you, me, or anyone
else to their meetings, nor to conform to whatever ideas we
might have about proper announcements.  They are not part of the
IETF and they use the arrangements and conventions that work for

In any event, I believe we are required to take all such
communications seriously, to evaluate their content, and to use
whatever we can to inform ourselves and our opinions.  I don't
believe that working for a government automatically conveys
competence, but I don't believe it automatically conveys
incompetence either, any more than working, e.g., for a registry
or registrar might.  If their conclusions are based on
misunderstandings of technology or other issues, we hope that
participation in the WG is broad enough to detect that and
correct for it.   

In the case of the Cairo meeting, I would have been very
concerned if there had been no presence of anyone but Arabic
language speakers, but that was not the case.  Everyone I saw
and talked with there was concerned and upset that no one from
Iran had been able to attend and most were sensitive to the gaps
that left in the group's knowledge.  I did try to report the
discussions about digits back to the IETF WG.  Despite my
limited understanding of Arabic script and digits (which, if I
recall, I did caution the WG about), I hope I got it mostly
right.  Does that mean that I "muled something back"?  I don't
know quite what you intend by that choice of phrase, but I
suspect I'd disagree if I did.  Similarly, I don't know whether
you are more qualified to evaluate who is an Arabic Script
Expert than I am or not, but, from the quality of discussions I
listened to in Cairo (and in Dubai before it), I rather suspect
that whatever message you intend to send by putting that term in
quotes would be hard to justify.

We can have honest disagreements and can see both tradeoffs and
the quality of some opinions differently.  But can we please
dial back the apparent innuendo?


--On Wednesday, March 11, 2009 14:27 -0400 Eric Brunner-Williams
<ebw at abenaki.wabanaki.net> wrote:

> Martin,
> At Minneapolis and on the list immediately following, several
> people demanded examples of "something useful" for mixed
> script digits. So we're just repeating the
> mostly-governmental-contributors to Ram's Arabic project

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