Browser IDN display policy: opinions sought

Gervase Markham gerv at
Mon Dec 12 13:05:02 CET 2011

On 09/12/11 20:55, John C Klensin wrote:
> This is going to be long -- you asked for opinions and analysis
> and I want to give you some, rather than just "I prefer X".

Hi John,

Thank you :-)

> Your "Type B" model, if used by other browsers and systems,
> would get me that consistency of behavior, especially if browser
> installation gives me that default "universal" reference font
> too.

(Side point: I'd see universal font provision as something that's the
OS's responsibility.)

> The big disadvantage of "Type B" is that it means I'm reliant on
> your judgment about what TLDs are well-behaved (or worth the
> risk) and which ones are not. 

You are. Mozilla is fine with that, in that we make many similar
judgments for our users in lots of areas on a regular basis (the
inclusion of certificate authorities being one obvious example).

> The "different problems" suggests that, if you wanted to, you
> could adopt Type A behavior but still identify domain names from
> suspect trees (Type B behavior) in some way other than A-label
> display.  

You seem here to be suggesting a blacklist ("suspect trees") rather than
a whitelist. Depending on how it was constructed, that might be somewhat
controversial! :-)

> Whether that would be a good strategy or not depends
> on what you think about language-based models and your analysis
> of the effectiveness of various forms of user warnings 

My opinion is that other forms of user warning are not going to be
effective - if you want a user not to be fooled by a particular visual
presentation, the only way is to not make that visual presentation.

> In principle, there is a much better answer than any of those
> three models. It is for ICANN to get really serious about doing
> properly what you are trying to approximate.


> It probably won't happen.  The communities that appear to have
> the most influence in ICANN are far more interested in promoting
> the sale of as many names as possible no matter who they are
> sold to, under what conditions, for what purposes, etc.   Even
> more sadly, the window on that approach probably closes forever
> next month: while one can imagine transition plans based on
> requiring registrant authentication at annual renewal now, once
> ICANN starts signing long-term contracts with lots of "you pay
> your money, you do what you like" gTLDs, I have no idea how the
> community could go back even if that were considered a good idea.

It's deeply disappointing that solving this problem wasn't an obvious,
basic goal of the process from the beginning!


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