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Old 11th July 2011, 05:21 AM
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Internationalized email

CircleID has a three-part discussion on internationalized email. Internationalized email will be able to handle addresses that are entirely in unicode: автал@пример.ком, for instance.

email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_i/
email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_ii/
email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_iii/

I know that some of you (domainguru?) have been following the IETF discussion, so I'm curious what you think of these articles.

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Old 11th July 2011, 07:36 AM
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Re: Internationalized email

Good primer on e-mail. Thanks for the links.

In part iii Levine concludes, "After years of experiments, the perhaps surprising consensus is that if you're going to do international mail, you just do it."

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Old 11th July 2011, 07:28 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avtal View Post
CircleID has a three-part discussion on internationalized email. Internationalized email will be able to handle addresses that are entirely in unicode: автал@пример.ком, for instance.

email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_i/
email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_ii/
email_in_the_worlds_languages_part_iii/

I know that some of you (domainguru?) have been following the IETF discussion, so I'm curious what you think of these articles.

Avtal
The IDN email group is a separate group, its called the EAI group. Haven't followed that one, sorry. Just from reading that article, its clear the initial standard isn't even finished yet. The first IDNA standard (i.e. the one just to do domain names) was IDNA2003, and that has needed lots of revision (i.e latest revision just finished), so we are still many years away from a solid globally accessible IDN-based email system unfortunately.

Last edited by domainguru; 11th July 2011 at 07:33 PM..
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Old 11th July 2011, 07:37 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by gammascalper View Post
Good primer on e-mail. Thanks for the links.

In part iii Levine concludes, "After years of experiments, the perhaps surprising consensus is that if you're going to do international mail, you just do it."

btw, "you just do it", doesn't mean it "just works" ...... at all. Its just a line to explain how the standard is being implemented, as in "simply define a new international mail stream with UTF-8 text in mail headers, and UTF-8 addresses in the SMTP session."

There are lots of docs and RFC standards that need upgrading. On first glance, looks a heck of a lot more than the IDNA change. Even if the first standard is miraculously "perfect", it could be any number of years before all mail servers worldwide are compatible. There are millions of mail servers out there running all kinds of rubbish.

Its a good starting point though if anyone out there is really interested in seeing how IDN is being implemented for email.

Last edited by domainguru; 11th July 2011 at 07:38 PM..
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Old 11th July 2011, 07:43 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

and this is very interesting:

-----------
All WG deliverables specified under the original charter,
particularly the experimental protocol specifications, have
been completed. The core specifications have been implemented
and interoperability tests performed. The WG is now being
rechartered to permit advancing revised versions of those
specifications and supporting documents into the standards
track.

As a result of implementation and testing experience, the WG
has concluded to drop the model of in-transit
----------

In other words, the original solution for IDNs in emails was rejected as a failure and the group was "rechartered" i.e. they had to start again.

No wonder its so far behind IDNA even !!
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Old 11th July 2011, 08:21 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by domainguru View Post
btw, "you just do it", doesn't mean it "just works" ...... at all. Its just a line to explain how the standard is being implemented, as in "simply define a new international mail stream with UTF-8 text in mail headers, and UTF-8 addresses in the SMTP session."

There are lots of docs and RFC standards that need upgrading. On first glance, looks a heck of a lot more than the IDNA change. Even if the first standard is miraculously "perfect", it could be any number of years before all mail servers worldwide are compatible. There are millions of mail servers out there running all kinds of rubbish.

Its a good starting point though if anyone out there is really interested in seeing how IDN is being implemented for email.
If this is what it takes to get those valuable orders out China, you can be sure the Germans will have it running in weeks with the Japanese and Koreans only a few months behind. The UK will take the usual decade to get things moving while the US will continue to delude themselves it doesn't matter.
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Old 11th July 2011, 08:42 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubber Duck View Post
If this is what it takes to get those valuable orders out China, you can be sure the Germans will have it running in weeks with the Japanese and Koreans only a few months behind. The UK will take the usual decade to get things moving while the US will continue to delude themselves it doesn't matter.
Koreans couldn't even move out of IE6 for ages ..........

The problem is that even after the standard is agreed, and presuming this one works, then EVERY MAIL SERVER in the world will need upgrading. Its a pretty terrifying prospect, because alot of these are hand-installs, mail servers can be very complex beasts to install and set up. Its not like installing a browser.

I know a lot of server guys absolutely hate mail servers, and once they are running, they will avoid anything to change the setup, let alone completely re-install a "fresh standard".

Remember, the WG rejected the solution which provided backward compatibility:

----------
When sending mail to a UTF8SMTP server, a client sends mail to the UTF-8 address, but provides the ASCII address as well. If the mail has to go to a server that does not handle UTF8SMTP, a complex set of downgrade rules turns any headers with UTF-8 into Downgraded-whatever: headers with MIME encoded versions of the UTF-8, replaces any UTF-8 addresses in the To: and From: lines with comments, and sends it along to the ASCII address.

While it was a magnificent piece of kludgery, after a while it became clear that this dual address system didn't work either. One reason was that it was very hard to keep the UTF-8 and ASCII addresses straight, so UTF-8 mail tended to leak into ordinary SMTP traffic, and downgraded mail into UTF-8 traffic. Furthermore, even though the dual addresses were intended as a temporary transition feature, on the Internet, no transition feature ever goes away, and Japanese and Chinese users quite reasonably did not want a system that would require that they have an ASCII address forever.
------------------

Which is fine, but what it means in reality is IDN email will *always* be partially unreliable i.e. if the mail server software isn't brand spanking new, it won't be able to receive IDN emails.

Nobody puts up with unreliable email. Its a joke. For that reason, I don't expect IDN email to play any significant part in the IDN domain business.
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Old 11th July 2011, 10:25 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

thanks for posting this Guru, I'm gonna give you some rep for it but also because you're the only active user still in the red - even Jose has a few green bars now
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Old 12th July 2011, 12:09 AM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
thanks for posting this Guru, I'm gonna give you some rep for it but also because you're the only active user still in the red - even Jose has a few green bars now
wow thanks man. thought I was destined to tread alone forever in the land of the red!
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Old 12th July 2011, 07:39 AM
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Re: Internationalized email

Time to drop the term ASCII Domainer to define the Luddites. It is time to start talking about the "Legacy Internet" which will not only course include non-IDN compatible Mail Servers but also IPv4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by domainguru View Post
Koreans couldn't even move out of IE6 for ages ..........

The problem is that even after the standard is agreed, and presuming this one works, then EVERY MAIL SERVER in the world will need upgrading. Its a pretty terrifying prospect, because alot of these are hand-installs, mail servers can be very complex beasts to install and set up. Its not like installing a browser.

I know a lot of server guys absolutely hate mail servers, and once they are running, they will avoid anything to change the setup, let alone completely re-install a "fresh standard".

Remember, the WG rejected the solution which provided backward compatibility:

----------
When sending mail to a UTF8SMTP server, a client sends mail to the UTF-8 address, but provides the ASCII address as well. If the mail has to go to a server that does not handle UTF8SMTP, a complex set of downgrade rules turns any headers with UTF-8 into Downgraded-whatever: headers with MIME encoded versions of the UTF-8, replaces any UTF-8 addresses in the To: and From: lines with comments, and sends it along to the ASCII address.

While it was a magnificent piece of kludgery, after a while it became clear that this dual address system didn't work either. One reason was that it was very hard to keep the UTF-8 and ASCII addresses straight, so UTF-8 mail tended to leak into ordinary SMTP traffic, and downgraded mail into UTF-8 traffic. Furthermore, even though the dual addresses were intended as a temporary transition feature, on the Internet, no transition feature ever goes away, and Japanese and Chinese users quite reasonably did not want a system that would require that they have an ASCII address forever.
------------------

Which is fine, but what it means in reality is IDN email will *always* be partially unreliable i.e. if the mail server software isn't brand spanking new, it won't be able to receive IDN emails.

Nobody puts up with unreliable email. Its a joke. For that reason, I don't expect IDN email to play any significant part in the IDN domain business.
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Old 13th July 2011, 02:29 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Reliability is overrated. Some Internet protocols like SMTP, FTP and friends have never been reliable. Doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things. I still know people using AOL. If I send them email it goes right into their spam folder. Yet life goes on.

The backwards compatible scheme sounds like a mess, better to do the new standard RIGHT and let the chips fall where they may. Besides who really thinks email is becoming more important instead of less. It's a vestige, like hard-line telephone systems.
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Old 13th July 2011, 02:59 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdw View Post
Reliability is overrated. Some Internet protocols like SMTP, FTP and friends have never been reliable. Doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things. I still know people using AOL. If I send them email it goes right into their spam folder. Yet life goes on.

The backwards compatible scheme sounds like a mess, better to do the new standard RIGHT and let the chips fall where they may. Besides who really thinks email is becoming more important instead of less. It's a vestige, like hard-line telephone systems.
Not to a fossile like me it ain't. Email is everything that I do and everything that I am in a professional context.

But I agree that it does not matter. Half of our company cannot twig there is a problem when the guess the email address wrong and it come back with undeliverable error message.
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Old 14th July 2011, 02:22 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubber Duck View Post
If this is what it takes to get those valuable orders out China, you can be sure the Germans will have it running in weeks with the Japanese and Koreans only a few months behind. The UK will take the usual decade to get things moving while the US will continue to delude themselves it doesn't matter.
I did a couple of tests to see which mail services would let me send email to addresses of the form ascii@IDN.com, since this should already work. I tried three different scripts for the IDN: extended Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic.

The results:
Gmail refused to send all three (so much for Google's claim to be international).
Yandex accepted and sent the Cyrillic, but refused to send the other two.
Yahoo accepted and sent all three!

Has anyone discovered any other IDN-compliant email services?

Avtal

Last edited by Avtal; 14th July 2011 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 14th July 2011, 02:51 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

If you use Outlook they should all work as it is only the punycode that gets sent. Businesses don't use Webmail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avtal View Post
I did a couple of tests to see which mail services would let me send email to addresses of the form ascii@IDN.com, since this should already work. I tried three different scripts for the IDN: extended Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic.

The results:
Gmail refused to send all three (so much for Google's claim to be international).
Yandex accepted and sent the Cyrillic, but refused to send the other two.
Yahoo accepted and sent all three!

Has anyone discovered any other IDN-compliant email services?

Avtal
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Old 14th July 2011, 05:58 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avtal View Post
I did a couple of tests to see which mail services would let me send email to addresses of the form ascii@IDN.com, since this should already work. I tried three different scripts for the IDN: extended Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic.

The results:
Gmail refused to send all three (so much for Google's claim to be international).
Yandex accepted and sent the Cyrillic, but refused to send the other two.
Yahoo accepted and sent all three!

Has anyone discovered any other IDN-compliant email services?

Avtal
And that's just the sending end, there's the relaying and receiving parts as well not to mention all the spam filtering software in operation round the world on both servers and clients, which may or may not like these strangely formed domains, aren't IDNs used primarily for phishing after all?

Last edited by domainguru; 14th July 2011 at 06:08 PM.. Reason: extra info
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Old 14th July 2011, 07:41 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by domainguru View Post
And that's just the sending end, there's the relaying and receiving parts as well not to mention all the spam filtering software in operation round the world on both servers and clients, which may or may not like these strangely formed domains, aren't IDNs used primarily for phishing after all?
Not sure about all this. Once they are on root they get treated like everything else because the are in Punycode which is ASCII. Of course Spam filters are random so anything can happen. It is really just a question of encoding and decoding.
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Old 14th July 2011, 07:51 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

What about right to left languages?

I saw something like this before but the "@" direction was not perfect with the email address outline.
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Old 14th July 2011, 08:27 PM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man View Post
What about right to left languages?

I saw something like this before but the "@" direction was not perfect with the email address outline.
Right to Left is only Right to Left on decoding. If it kooks weird after decoding, then its because your Mail Server is crap.
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Old 15th July 2011, 12:28 AM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubber Duck View Post
Not sure about all this. Once they are on root they get treated like everything else because the are in Punycode which is ASCII. Of course Spam filters are random so anything can happen. It is really just a question of encoding and decoding.
There is no "root" for emails, its about protocols, and many levels of software above protocols. We ran into many issues programming IDN websites caused by the single fact that IDN domains weren't "just like any other domains", even though in theory they should be.

Just one example - links in emails containing IDN domains wouldn't work reliably, as many bits of software wouldn't recognize IDN domains just as being "domains" - we had to revert to an ASCII domain for sign-up links.

Google (gmail) can't even deal with ASCII domains properly yet. if you put one in CAPS in email text it refuses to think its a link, its so funny, you have to put it in lower case.

Another recent example, google has seriously screwed up showing adsense ads on IDN domain names. How can that happen? They are just domain names like any other, right?

Software never "just works" unfortunately, it works after (a) it is written correctly and (b) enough people test it afterwards, report back what is wrong, and the authors are under enough pressure to spend money correcting it.

Has anyone in the world tested even the "should be simple" sending, receiving, replying and forwarding emails to "xn--" domains? I mean properly tested, across a range of email clients (apps + web) with a range of spam filters installed at server and client level? And all the other features email apps have, such as contact lists, whitelists etc.

I very much doubt it. So that has to be done first before software writers are forced to correct any bad code.

I bet even getting email services set up on xn-- domains has hardly been tested at all.

Stuff should "just work", but unfortunately shit "just happens".

And the funny thing is we are just talking about ASCII@IDN.com, its 2011 and there isn't even a standard yet for IDN@IDN.com - sad.
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Old 15th July 2011, 05:07 AM
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Re: Internationalized email

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rubber Duck View Post
If you use Outlook they should all work as it is only the punycode that gets sent. Businesses don't use Webmail.
I have confirmed what you already knew: They all work in Outlook. They also (to my surprise) work in the webmail provided by Comcast, a US ISP. They don't work in hotmail, if anyone cares.

I'm disappointed in Google, because unlike the other webmail providers, they market GMail as a solution for businesses. But if a GMail business customer needs to shoot off an email to medvedev@президент.рф, they're out of luck.

Avtal
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