[UA-discuss] More from Ram Mohan on ICANN's further commitment to Universal Acceptance

John Levine john.levine at standcore.com
Mon Dec 24 18:01:06 UTC 2018

In article <6963BB0C-4172-4EBD-9C38-56DEDFECF45E at lboro.ac.uk> you write:
>Will ICANNʼs further commitment to UA extend to ICANN having their own set of IDNs and EAI addresses? ...

>I have never understood this reluctance/resistance.

I do.  

Nobody understands what it means for two different domain names to be
"the same", or for two web sites to be "the same", or even for the
same web site addressed by different URLs to be "the same."  Do all
the names redirect to the original URL, or do you have a complete
version of the web site at every IDN address?  How do you try to keep
bookmarks straight if there are four URLs for every page?  For a site
like ICANN's that has multiple language versions of many pages, do you
try to make the language in the page match the language of the URL, or
do you prefer the Accept: languages from the user's web browser, or

It is relatively straightforward to have a Chinese web site at a
single Chinese IDN domain, but nobody has a clue how to parallel
versions of web sites at different names.  I've done some informal
surveys of names that are supposed to be "the same", even in the same
language, with names in .cat when they were doing DNAMEs, and names in
.ngo and .ong, and I found that hardly anyone even tries to make it

For EAI, as my TLD survey showed last month, only about 10% of mail
systems for gTLDs can handle EAI mail, with a large fraction of those
being hosted at Gmail and Outlook.  From a UA point of view, if you
want to communicate with people, it is a good idea to handle other
people's EAI addresses, but a poor idea to assign EAI addresses and
expect other mail systems to handle them correctly at this point.*

There is a further swamp with addresses used as identifiers, as does
approximately every web site in the world that has user accounts.  We
have informal conventions for ASCII addresses: upper and lower case
are equivalent, and addresses with exotic punctuation don't work very
well.  We have nothing like that for EAI, and in view of the vast
number of different and incompatible conventions in different
languages, it is a very hard problem.  I offred a little informal
advice on address assignment in the EAI guide I wrote, and the IETF may
do some work in this area next year, but we are a long way from
solving or even understanding it.

Finally, I am definiteky NOT suggesting that UASG should try to solve
any of these problems. We need to be aware of them and perhaps warn
people away from situations that might cause more UA issues.  We
barely have the time and expertise to do what we're already trying to
do.  Let us avoid mission creep here.


* - This may be different among communities that all speak the same
non-Latin language, perhaps in parts of India, but it's true in

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