Re: [EAI] UTF-8 in Message-IDs Tue, 16 August 2011 02:30 UTC

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Cc: Charles Lindsey <>, Ned Freed <>, IMA <>
Subject: Re: [EAI] UTF-8 in Message-IDs
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> Ned,

> Let me try again with a note short enough that my conclusion and
> intentions are not obscured (I think that happened the last
> time; my apologies).

No problem!

> I think several of us have reasoned to the conclusion that, on
> balance, Message-IDs should not be restricted to ASCII (in the
> formal syntax or more generally).  Some of us find some of those
> arguments more persuasive than others; others of us would choose
> a different mix, but the conclusion is the same.

I'm actually more concerned about this dragging out than which way it gets

> Given the multiple reasons for that conclusion; the apparent
> consensus about it in email discussions before, during, and
> after IETF 80; and the fairly general impression that an ASCII
> restriction would be generally ignored because of the way
> Message-IDs are often contructed, I believe that anyone who
> continues to believe that non-ASCII Message-IDs should be
> prohibited needs to persuasively demonstrate to the WG that they
> would cause significant harm.

My comment here is that harm has to be associated with operation inside the EAI
"zone". Downgrading issues don't count.

> That demonstration has not appeared.  We can create edge cases
> that show that messages with Message-IDs with non-ASCII content
> are slightly less robust that Message-IDs that are ASCII-only,
> but far more likely cases can be shown to demonstrate that
> messages with only ASCII addresses are more robust than messages
> that contain non-ASCII text in addresses, etc.  To go down that
> path is to argue that any message with UTF-8 strings in _any_
> header field is less robust than a corresponding message with
> only ASCII in those fields.  While that is undoubtedly true, the
> WG (and the IETF by issuing the WG a charter) have decided that
> the advantages of having internationalized addressing and header
> fields far exceed the disadvantages of that drop in robustness.
> Moreover, the marginal drop due to non-ASCII Message-IDs alone
> (once the risks of any non-ASCII material are accepted) appears
> to be close to trivial... making a persuasive demonstration of
> harm even less likely.

OK, now I see what you were getting at. Sorry for not seeing it the first

> I urge Joseph to review the history of this discussion and then
> close it out.


> p.s. As far as "SHOULD keep Message-IDs in ASCII" is concerned,
> I could live with it but would actually oppose it.  The reasons
> are implicit in the above, in your recent notes, and in other
> recent discussions: (i) restrictions that we unlikely to be
> obeyed are just bad for standards and (ii) to whatever extent
> Message-IDs (including values in In-Reply-To and other fields)
> are ever examined by humans, forcing id-right to use A-labels
> for the most obvious and common cases is just inconsistent with
> multiple design goals.  So I would prefer a bit of
> implementation advice that points the issue out, not a
> conformance statement.  YMMD but, if you agree even slightly,
> let me try to draft a paragraph that we can then figure out
> where to put.

I certainly can do that.