Re: [ietf-smtp] Should we update an RFC if people refuse to implement parts of it ?

Ned Freed <ned.freed@mrochek.com> Sun, 30 May 2021 23:31 UTC

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Date: Sun, 30 May 2021 15:49:25 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ned Freed <ned.freed@mrochek.com>
In-reply-to: "Your message dated Wed, 26 May 2021 17:59:49 -0400" <YK7E1dBKneP8B8Ib@straasha.imrryr.org>
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To: Viktor Dukhovni <ietf-dane@dukhovni.org>
Archived-At: <https://mailarchive.ietf.org/arch/msg/ietf-smtp/G-kmYxsWZUkM-5M7zspSBLiGzvE>
Subject: Re: [ietf-smtp] Should we update an RFC if people refuse to implement parts of it ?
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> On Thu, May 27, 2021 at 12:59:53AM +0800, Jiankang Yao wrote:

> > > I recognize the distinction while also realizing that, as you know,
> > > things often leak.  My recollection (if Jiankang is following this,
> > > his memory is probably better than mine) is that the WG explicitly
> > > discussed the issue and concluded that U-labels were a better idea
> > > than A-labels.
> >
> > Yes, I think so. The EAI WG discussed this issue.  Section 3.7.3.
> > Trace Information  encourages to use UTF-8 form.  One reason I think
> > is that trace information will be put into header for human reading.

> But, and this is crucial, the human reading the trace information is
> rarely either the sender or the ultimate recipient of the message, who
> are generally presented with a subset of the headers fields ("To", "Cc",
> "Date", "Subject" ...).  Examination of trace headers is far more likely
> to a task for a mail system administrator.  They're used in abuse
> reports and the like, and a uniform representation is more important
> than familiarity to the community of readers of some given language.

And what the admin usually wants to do is either a comparison or check the
domain with the DNS in some way. So an A-label can be more convenient.

And in the unlikely event an admin needs to translate the A-label to a
U-label, there are an abundance of tools that I can use to do it.

> Mail system administrators don't necessarily read the same scripts as
> their end users.  Mail system administrators would reasonably expect
> the EHLO name recorded in trace headers to match the name received in
> the actual EHLO command on the wire (and recorded in their email logs).

> > UTF-8 is better for human reading.  A-label is ugly for human reading,
> > but ok for machine reading.

> Sure, if the text is Russian, some Latin-based alphabet or at a stretch
> Greek, I can more easily distinguish one U-label string from another
> than an A-label form like "xn--b1adqpd3ao5c.org", ... and yet I'd much
> rather see A-labels in trace headers than Arabic or Chinese.  The text
> in 3.7.3 is not something I'm inclined to implement.

Actually, it depends on the A-labels. Because of the compression involved
A-labels often emphasize small differences that may be difficult to see in a
crap monospaced font for a non-Latin script, even one you're familiar with.

> Specifying the use of U-labels in the "from" and "by" clauses rather
> looks like a bad judgement call, rough consensus or not.  Until the
> Protocol Police show up, I'm sticking with A-labels. :-(

Me too.

				Ned