Re: [I18ndir] Getting restarted and triage

Asmus Freytag <> Fri, 14 June 2019 16:29 UTC

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From: Asmus Freytag <>
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Subject: Re: [I18ndir] Getting restarted and triage
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On 6/14/2019 6:52 AM, John C Klensin wrote:
> --On Friday, June 14, 2019 08:18 -0400 Marc Blanchet
> <> wrote:
>> On 13 Jun 2019, at 21:38, John C Klensin wrote:
>>> Dear esteemed and rapidly-moving secretaries,
>>> Noting that tomorrow makes a month since you sent your "get
>>> back to work" note, that there has been nothing more from you
>> ...
>>> That brings me to a key question.  Noting that the main reason
>>> for proposing the BOF that led to this directorate was to try
>>> to get work on core I18N, and especially IDNA, issues under
>>> control, my preference would be that the directorate take a
>>> look at the drafts mentioned above (and probably Asmus's work
>>> on troublesome characters, etc.) and make a recommendation to
>>> the ADs about how to handle them.   An alternative would be
>>> for us to introduce the drafts on the IDNAbis WG mailing list
>>> and then pass them directly to the ADs with a request for AD
>>> sponsorship and, if needed, a short-term restart of that WG,
>>> which would get them to the directorate that way.
>> your description of the drafts seems to show that these are
>> enough substantive that it requires a WG.

In prinicple, I'd agree. However:

> Marc,
> In principle, fine with me.  However, I observe that:
> <rant, because the topic probably deserves one>
> (1) Pete's note suggests that several people in this rather
> small directorate list have told them that they "don't feel up
> to doing detailed i18n reviews of documents".  That does not
> bode well for their likely active participation in a WG with
> several documents.
> (2) The original IAB statement on what was described at the time
> as a Hamza problem but which we are now calling a
> non-decomposing character one

Which description still falls short of the problem as long as you have 
pairs of code points with identical (by design) appearance in IDNA 2008 
-- and
not counting the Latin/Cyrillic pairs.

> asked the IESB to do something,
> presumably a WG or at least some study effort.  Nothing really
> happened.  And the amount of useful input on the various
> iterations of draft-klensin-idna-unicode-7-0-0 --other than from
> the co-authors to each other, Mark Davis, Andrew Sullivan, and
> Asmus-- over the lifetime of that document was just about zero.
> I note that later versions of the document both described the
> issues and laid out alternatives -- rather long for a WG problem
> statement, but otherwise should have been more than adequate.
> (3) By the time the EAI WG effort wound down, there were, IIR,
> only about two people other than the co-chairs and the author
> collection actually doing work or paying attention.  The number
> of substantive comments on IETF Last Call was just about zero.
> (4) By the time the PREICS WG effort wound down, the number of
> people who were active other than co-chairs and authors also
> appeared to be fewer than a half-dozen, probably much fewer for
> the second-round documents.   Again, virtually no substantive
> comments on IETF Last Call other than from that group.
> (5) Other than discussion within the Directorate and some
> proforma Area reviews that did not show an understanding of the
> issues, the IETF Last Call on draft-faltstrom-unicode11 produced
> approximately nothing.   Especially because that document (and
> the IAB statement that motivated it) swept the issues discussed
> in draft-klensin-idna-unicode-7-0-0-05 aside (clearly "known
> omissions" in RFC 2026-speak and substantive enough to cause
> several years of paralysis), there was an argument similar to
> yours that a WG should have been required too.
> (6) There were even fewer IETF Last Call comments on
> draft-faltstrom-unicode12 because there was no Last Call,
> despite the fact that it and draft-faltstrom-unicode11 cover
> different material.   That substitution may have been the right
> thing to do, but it violates all sorts of rules and precedents
> that normally would have required a WG for both of those
> documents.
> (7) Speaking as one of those who proposed it, the purpose of the
> BOF that led to this directorate was precisely to figure out how
> to process documents like these, with becoming more systematic
> about reviews of non-i18n documents with i18n content being
> distinctly secondary.  The conclusion was, approximately, that a
> directorate should be formed to, independent of whatever else it
> might do, make recommendations to the ADs as to how to proceed.
> So here we are.
> Without interpreting the months it took to get it off the
> ground, the lag time between the discussions of the Unicode 11.0
> and 12.0 tables and drafts and Pete's note and the month between
> Pete's note and my note as indicating anything (although it
> probably does), (1) - (6) above make an extremely strong case
> that getting critical mass together to initiate and sustain a
> WG, at least a conventional one that does not bend various
> rules, is implausible.
Seems like a reasonable reading of a the evidence to me.
> FWIW, if we look over the i18n drafts posted in the last few
> years (since the last PRECIS ones to go to RFC), I believe that
> none of the authors other than Andrew are regular IETF meeting
> attendees.  That doesn't bode well for a WG, at least a
> conventional one either.

That's an issue.

> So, if we are going to say "requires a WG", I think we need to
> figure out, and make some recommendations about, how that WG
> will be populated and function.   Saying "requires a WG" without
> such a plan takes us back to the proposal for the BOF; the
> reasons why, by traditional IETF criteria (although it wasn't
> done in either case and I'm glad it wasn't) EAI and PRECIS
> should have been shut down for lack of involved and contributing
> participants before the last documents were finished; and the
> IETF should not simply and formally exit the i18n area for lack
> of interest and competence.  I don't know what that would do
> with other documents that make i18n assertions, but it probably
> wouldn't be good.

i18n is special in the way it intersects technologies. It isn't a standalone
technology, despite the fact that some technologies are i18n-specific.

In principle, the directorate model should cover the other aspects well,
except that IETF has too few people who can (or want to) understand and
review meaningfully those "generic" technologies that nevertheless have
i18n exposure. The W3C make that model work, but only because their
core participants are funded directly for that work.


> </rant>
> best,
>     john