The Future of IDNA

Erik van der Poel erikv at
Thu Mar 19 23:30:25 CET 2009

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 2:19 PM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at> wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 12:53:52PM -0700, Erik van der Poel wrote:
>> I'm not arguing this on security grounds. I'm arguing that the .gr
>> folks have made reasonable requests to push the policy from the zone
>> operator to the client, by IDNA protocol. And, since modern Greek is
>> used in such a way that the .gr registry felt the need to bundle on
>> the server side when the IDNA2003 protocol did not require mapping
>> tonos on the client side, we should pay attention to their requests
>> and try to fulfill them if at all possible. There may be requests from
>> mathematicians or whoever to distinguish Final from Normal Sigma, but
>> I don't accept that such requests are more important than those coming
>> from the .gr folks. (Mathematicians or whoever are a "small"
>> community, in my view.)
> I agree that they're not _more_ important.  What I think you haven't
> shown is that they're _less_ important.

You haven't shown that they're equally important.

But seriously, the DNS is often used for names and words, and we're
trying to internationalize the DNS. Why would we pay as much attention
to folks that want to distinguish Final and Normal Sigma in some
mathematical formula (if that is even a desire)? The DNS is not for
mathematical formulae, and it is not for novels either.

> I know that the .gr registry
> has a problem here.  But people weren't arguing to get rid of the
> mappings for the fun of it: there are problems with them (which I
> think have been outlined at length.  If you think those arguments for
> the problems are wrong, that's a different matter).

Why is that a different matter?

> So unless we can
> both solve all the problems that the elimination of mapping is
> supposed to achieve too (and I haven't seen a way that that's supposed
> to be solved, I think), then someone's going to lose.

Who said anything about solving ALL of the problems that the
elimination of mapping was supposed to achieve? We have to choose the
"least stinky" solution.

>> And when they said that, we did not hear from any community, large or
>> small, that they wanted to distinguish Characters with Tonos from
>> Characters without Tonos.
> This is a complete red herring, I think, because there are lots of
> zone administrators in the universe who are paying exactly no
> attention to the IETF.

We have plenty of Unicode and language experts on this mailing list.
Don't you think someone would have spoken up if they thought that
mapping tonos away is a bad idea?

> Your argument above effectively gets us into
> the codepoint-by-codepoint business, and if you ask me we don't have
> the expertise for that.

The IETF does not have to have that kind of expertise. The IETF must
come up with stable protocols and realistic ways to upgrade them, by
laying out transition plans. John has written down a couple of
transition tactics (bundling and multiple lookup), and I have written
down a transition strategy that combines those tactics (well-known
versions of IDNA mapping specs).

What remains to be done is to create some kind of forum where
interested parties can lobby for addition or removal of mappings.
Whether that forum operates by "rough consensus" or voting is another

Also, it would probably be too chaotic if a new mapping spec was
published every month. In the interests of a controlled transition, it
might be wise to upgrade the mapping spec every 3 years or so.


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