[Gnso-newgtld-wg-wt5] Notes and Action Items -- remarks about ISO 3166 terminology used

Jaap Akkerhuis jaap at NLnetLabs.nl
Wed Sep 5 12:35:48 UTC 2018

A quick scan of the working document shows rather inconsistent use of
ISO 3166 related terms.

Quite some of these uses stem from citing the AGB. There is not a lot to
do about that, we should not change history too much. But for the current
document we could do better I hope.

Often one reads things like "codes listed in the ISO 3166-2 standard".
What really is meant here is "codes listed in the standard ISO 3166
Part 2". What makes this important is that people are confusing the -2
suffix with the length of the code. We should be more careful in using
proper terminology and if one wants to use "3166-1" as a shortcut for
"ISO 3166 Part 2" it should somewhere be explained.

An example of unclear use is a sentence like:

	"meaningful representations of a country or territory name on
	the ISO 3166-2 standard"

What is really meant here? Country and territory names appear in ISO
3166 Part one, ISO 3166 Part 2 talks about subdivisions only. (It might
be quoted from an old AGB so can't be changed, but it is still

Something like "ISO 3166 3-letter codes, country subdivisions (3166
Alpha-2)" becomes quite confusing very fast. in general ISO talks
about alpha-3 etc. codes and 3166 Part 1 had alpha-2 and alpha-3
codes. ISO 3166 Part 2 is about codes for subdivision codes. These
codes are not related to the alpha-3 codes of Part 1 but consist of
alpha-2 codes from part 1 followed by "up to 3 characters".

The working document talks about alpha-3 or 2 codes, 2/3 characters,
and 2/3 letter codes etc. Most times they seem to be used denoting the
same but I'm not always when non-ASCII codes are involved.

I know, it is hard to be consistent it the terminology but it is worth
the effort.


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