Over a decade ago ICANN started making it possible to register Internationalized domains, i.e. domain names in a language-specific script. For those who are picky about definitions, here’s what Wikipedia says:
An internationalized domain name (IDN) is an Internetdomain name that contains at least one label that is displayed in software applications, in whole or in part, in a language-specific script or alphabet, such as Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Tamil, Hebrew or the Latin alphabet-based characters with diacritics or ligatures, such as French. These writing systems are encoded by computers in multi-byteUnicode. Internationalized domain names are stored in the Domain Name System as ASCII strings using Punycode transcription. (Source – Wikipedia)
Today, a blogger over at MuscatDaily wrote an article titled – Nobody needs Arabic domain names. In the article, the writer makes the case that Internationalized domain names don’t make any sense and actually would make life harder not easier for companies that brand around them.
Even though it has been almost a decade since these internationalised domain names have been made available, nobody seems to be using them. Contrary to what was argued by the proponents of internationalised domain names, you do not need to have an internationalised domain name to publish content written in non-Latin scripts. We have had web content written in the Arabic language before Arabic domain names came out, and we continue to do so without using these domain names.
Had internationalised domain names actually picked up, they would have made the Internet less, not more, inclusive. Imagine if an Omani university decided to adopt an Arabic domain name and required all of its staff and students to have email addresses written in the Arabic language. Unless this hypothetical university created an alternative English language alias for each user, it would be impossible for any of the users of these email accounts to share their addresses with someone who does not speak Arabic, which would have created a barrier for communication between these users and the rest of the world.
(Source – Muscat Daily)
Now I think this is probably a somewhat controversial topic. I mean, let’s be real – if you write in a certain language, shouldn’t you be able to register a domain name using the character set that you write in? I think the real problem is that we don’t yet have a great way for people who know a particular language to write in that character set.
Here’s an example. I’m learning Japanese right now, in order to write in Japanese on my computer, I had to add a new keyboard and then learn about how to switch between keyboards. While this wasn’t rocket science, it probably isn’t something I’d do just to type in one web or email address.
All this being said, I don’t think I’m the right person to really share much of a perspective on this topic. So I’m interested to hear from my blog readers who live outside the US and might have some better insights into Internationalized domains.
What do you think, does this guy make a good point or is he missing something? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!