emoji (was Re: I-D Action: draft-klensin-idna-rfc5891bis-00.txt)

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Sun Mar 12 14:36:34 CET 2017

On Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 03:23:41AM +0000, Shawn Steele wrote:
> And then when we get to emoji, well it's pretty hard to mix up a cat with a human with the work "cat", so, whether they seem "serious" or not, it seems to me to be pretty harsh to just get rid of the whole set when people clearly want to use them.  Sure, they're silly, but sometimes people aren't in businesses that deal entirely in life-and-death matters.

The reason that IDNA2008 doesn't permit emoji is not because the WG
thought that they were more or less serious.  The reason that emoji
are DISALLOWED is at bottom roughly the same reason that the
conjoining Hangul Jamo are DISALLOWED.  The approach that IDNA2008
took was that the DNS did not need to permit any label anyone might
want, but instead needed to permit effective mnemonics that people
could use reliably.  In effect, the goal was to "internationalize
LDH".  LDH does not permit lots of labels that would be useful to
people.  It doesn't permit apostrophes or spaces, for instance -- both
things which have turned out to be important for DNS-SD and which also
cause trouble for LDH-restricted zones.  Hangul Jamo was like that:
the precomposed characters were better for these purposes.

Emojis are poor choices for mnemonics because they tend to ambiguity.
There is in fact a writing system for ideographic scripts such as Han,
and the writing system is well-developed even if there are
locale-dependent variations in display.  But emoji ideographs are
nowise so systematized yet, and the semantic value of a given
ideograph is often in flux even within a given user population.
They're a useful and fun tool for lots of purposes, but they're not
especially good for Internet-scale identifiers.  Reliable
interoperability often requires that particular features cannot be
relied upon, and so far emojis appear to fall into that category for
stable, Internet-scale identifiers.  That's what IDNA is designed to

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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