Re: [I18ndir] Getting restarted and triage

John C Klensin <> Fri, 14 June 2019 13:52 UTC

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Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2019 09:52:04 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Marc Blanchet <>
cc: Pete Resnick <>,, Peter Saint-Andre <>
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Subject: Re: [I18ndir] Getting restarted and triage
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--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 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 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

(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.  

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.

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.