Browser IDN display policy: opinions sought

Paul Hoffman phoffman at
Fri Dec 9 18:57:26 CET 2011

On Dec 9, 2011, at 9:25 AM, Gervase Markham wrote:

> On 09/12/11 16:46, Paul Hoffman wrote:
>> Thank you for that explanation. So, "if your IDN domain works in one
>> copy of Firefox, it works in them all", but that might change over
>> time if a TLD changes its policies. But we know that many TLDs very
>> much want to change their policies with respect to bundling.
> Without disputing your assertion, I'd be very interested in more
> information if you have it. Why do TLDs not like bundling?

Sorry, I was not clear: many TLDs was to start bundling. That is, many TLDs might be changing their policies, and that might change what users see in Firefox.

>> No; yes. :-) I think that if type A were not justified, there would
>> have been many complaints about it over the years; I haven't heard
>> any.
> And you think that take-up and real-world use of IDNs on the consumer
> Internet has been broad enough that we would have heard them?

Absolutely yes. You might not see them browsing the web from the US, but if you travel to other countries (particularly Asia and many parts of Europe), you see them all the time.

>>> If you would, in an ideal world, prefer everyone to be Type B,
>>> would you be interested in a push to try and persuade other browser
>>> makers to change tack instead of Firefox?
>> My ideal world is much closer to A than B. It is, in fact, one of the
>> reasons that I switched to Chrome for my day-to-day work browsing
>> that involves IDNs.
> So do you add scripts for languages you don't speak to the Chrome
> preferences to get the IDNs to render?

Not often any more. :-) I cannot speak for others, nor do I know how well/poorly IE and Chrome's initial list for people outside English-speaking countries are pre-populated.

Also note that "language" is used quite loosely by Chrome and IE. "www.é" renders correctly on browsers that are supposedly English-only.

>>> I wonder how we can get some statistics on that?
>> We can't. It is inherently impossible to measure because if some
>> company wants to identify themselves with <somestring>.<theirtld> and
>> that renders wrong in IE, they just won't register it.
> But surely the point is that it may well render right in their IE, but
> wrong in the IE of their customers (e.g. if their customers are using US
> English Windows and IE)?

That may "surely" be the point for you, but I suspect you are in the minority. For me, the point is to have my name rendered as well as possible in as many places as possible. I won't bother getting a domain name that can't render well anywhere, but I will get one if I believe that it will look better than the inaccurate all-ASCII one I have now. You may be over-applying what you think surely should be others' expectations on people who have different desires.

--Paul Hoffman

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