What does the IDN wiki give us?

by Tina Dam on February 22, 2008

One topic that kept being misunderstood at the ICANN meeting in India was ‘what is the purpose of the IDN wiki’ – the example.test site that are actual IDN TLDs in the root. I’ll try to explain what is going on with the wiki and what it can and cannot be used for.

First some background and clarifying information. Having your script/language represented in the wiki is not a pre-requisite for eventually getting an IDN TLD in the root. These 11 languages/scripts are merely being used to evaluate usability of IDNs in applications. The “example.test” strings in the wiki were translated into the specified languages and then represented by the associated scripts.

There are no other strings but the one for “example” in each of the zones. To answer another question that often comes up — there are no registrations available and there is also no associated registration policies, nor are there variant tables. Variant tables across scripts can be quite a challenge to develop, especially when there are similarities with other scripts supported under the TLD (mixed or not). For more on this, see for example all the work related to Indian languages and scripts at http://del.icann.org/node/88 (the presentations will be posted asap).

What this all means is that having clear rules for how these tables and policies should be developed are very important factors as we move towards introduction of IDN TLDs. While the IDN Guidelines provide an initial overview of this, the details of it will be important in the implementation of the processes and policies related to the introduction of IDN TLDs (regardless of it being on the ccTLD or gTLD side).

So in other words, inclusion in the wiki does not indicate whether or not a script/language combination is safe to deploy and as such can be used directly in the root.

So back to the original question – what does the wiki then do? It is an online tool so all interested users can try out fully localized domain names (IDN both before and after the dot) in, for example, web addresses or email addresses. Interested users could be registrants, general users of domain names in some capacity, registries or companies that are thinking about becoming IDN TLD operators, application developers who either have or are going to implement IDNs for use in their products. As such there can be many different reasons for participating in the wiki. But in general it should provide a good overview of what IDNs solve and what the difficulties are around usage – the problems that users face. They will also help highlight other limitations in solutions (keyboards or software to type and also to display scripts, application support and difference in implementation, content, etc).

Historically, when new TLDs have been included in the DNS, there have been some cases with some usability problems. The hope is that the wiki in addition will demonstrate to any potential IDN TLD operator what some of the acceptance or usability problems are around IDNs. As such this will give a good up front indication of what user complaints may arise when the day comes that IDN registrations are purchased and moved into operation (under IDN TLDs).
The wiki provides some suggestions about how participants can test along with other IDN relevant IDN information. It can be accessed at http://idn.icann.org and functions like any wiki where you can set up an account and create pages and participate in discussion forums.

Note: while much of this work is related to IDN TLDs it is important to keep in mind that a lot of the experience and knowledge we have today to supply at the TLD level is coming from the implementations at the second level. IDN at second level have been around since 2001.


热门榜 02.23.08 at 4:14 am

The question is how many IDNs will be applied per country or territoriy, as India said they have 22 official languages, will India have 22 IDNs?
And I have translated parts of the ICANN’s “Briefing Note on the ICANN New Delhi Meeting” about IDNs into chinese.
Welcome to see it on my blog:

Bill Winans 02.24.08 at 6:04 am

Just a clarification of terms.
IDNs at the “second level” = idn.com, idn.net, idn.jp, idn.de, idn.cn idn.tv, idn.ws etc etc

哲学 02.27.08 at 4:33 am

When will Email system support IDNs?

Tina Dam 02.27.08 at 4:44 am

Hi 热门榜, thanks for the translation. It is hard to answer your questions because the topic of “criteria that needss to be meet for an applicant for an IDN TLD” is under development. As such, i can only make guesses. The guess coming out of the dicussions in India will be that it is up to India to decide how many they would want to apply for and for them to show that they fulfill the criteria necessary.

(the initial policy paper on the fast-track discussed the possibility of limiting the number of IDN ccTLDs introduced in the fast-track to be one (1) per existing entry in the ISO3166 list, however, this was deemed impossible due to the nature of how languages and scripts are used in some countries and territories).

Hope this help, although not very specific.


Tina Dam 02.27.08 at 4:44 am

Thanks Bill, good clarifications….

Tina Dam 02.27.08 at 4:47 am

Hi 哲学, i’m afraid i dont know. the protocol for internationalized emails is underway and will be released on experimental basis. As such implementations in email clients is recommended in order to gain some experience and feed that back into the IETF for information to finalize the protocol (this is called standards track). The IETF does not work following specific timelines, but if you have experience in this field then you should definitely join the working group within the IETF on the topic.


Sulaiman 02.27.08 at 7:44 pm

when the arabic IDN will be implemented ?

bwhhisc 03.08.08 at 3:39 am

My casual opinion on Arabic IDN:
I think that ICANN has cleared most of the hurdles to begin the process of implementation, but it is now up to the various countries to start their processes to move forward. Many have expressed opinions on how the “politics” of the various governments in many countries will affect the implementation of IDNs and the fairness of the distribution of names.

Many hope that Arabic will be among the first to get their idn.idn since the right-to-left alphabet stands to gain a lot from having their tlds and cc’s displayed not only in native language, but R-T-L scripts.

The internet can be a powerful economic tool for small businesses, and IDN can open a lot of doors for businesses and internet users to connect. IDN will impact worldwide economics when this all moves forward and users begin to search this way.

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