The Future of IDNA

Vint Cerf vint at
Fri Mar 20 11:56:00 CET 2009

Erik, et al,

I think we have to come to a point where we essentially freeze the  
specification and assess its implications.

That is roughly what I believe we should try to do on Monday and  

More specifics to follow.


Vint Cerf
1818 Library Street, Suite 400
Reston, VA 20190
vint at

On Mar 20, 2009, at 1:34 AM, Erik van der Poel wrote:

> On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 4:01 PM, Andrew Sullivan <ajs at>  
> wrote:
>> On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 03:30:25PM -0700, Erik van der Poel wrote:
>>> You haven't shown that they're equally important.
>> That places the burden of proof the wrong way.  You want to introduce
>> a restriction to the protocol (called "mapping").
> IDNA2003 is a Proposed Standard. IDNA2008 is a set of Internet Drafts.
> I realize that this particular WG's charter does not include mapping.
> If that means we'd have to re-charter, that'd be really, really
> unfortunate, but I'd rather re-charter than get it wrong (again).
>> I argue that
>> someone could easily prefer a different restriction in some other
>> zone, and therefore this is a policy decision that needs not to be in
>> the protocol.  It's often true that it would be more convenient for
>> someone to include that person's policy in the protocol; that
>> protocol-determined policy then comes at the cost of someone else's
>> preference.  I don't need to show they're equally important; I merely
>> need to show that there's a legitimate alternative preference  
>> available.
> See my discussion with Ken about modern and classical Greek.
>>> But seriously, the DNS is often used for names and words, and we're
>> But it _doesn't_ use names and words.  They're labels.  Often they're
>> not words.  "ns01" is not, I assert, a word, but it's a very common  
>> label.
> ns01 and www23 are not the most visible labels on the Internet. We are
> trying to internationalize the labels that ordinary users see most
> often.
>>> 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.
>> It's not for words, either.  It's for identifiers.  Which could, in
>> some cases, be distinguishable on the basis of this distinction.
> See above.
>>>> 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?
>> Because you haven't established that those arguments are wrong.  I
>> haven't seen a solid argument yet that the initial problems which
>> inspired the IDNAbis work are not still compelling.
> The IDNA2008 rationale draft is not very compelling. It is quite
> vague. Whenever Mark and I ask for explicit examples of confusion due
> to mapping, John says something like: If we mention actual examples,
> we will end up making character-by-character decisions.
>>  My reading of
>> Paul Hoffman's draft is that there are too many negatives involved in
>> the trade, and therefore we shouldn't do it, and not that the  
>> original
>> diagnosis was wrong.
> Of course some of the diagnosis was understandable. Turkish users
> might be baffled by software that doesn't map dotted and dotless
> letter i the Turkish way. Hopefully, client implementers will do a
> better job with keyboard UI at some point.
> But removing ALL mappings just because of that and a few other little
> things? No, we have to weigh that against the other. And I tend to
> agree with Paul that we need to keep mapping.
>>> 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
>>> matter.
>> Lobby whom?
> Maybe "lobby" was the wrong word. Maybe an ISO WG? Or a joint ISO/IETF
> group? Joint Unicode/IETF group?
> Erik
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