Re: Flag tags (was: Re: Unicode 6.2 to Support the Turkish Lira Sign)

From: Philippe Verdy <>
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 04:19:01 +0200

2012/5/31 Michael Everson <>:
> On 31 May 2012, at 00:24, Mark Davis ☕ wrote:
> Members of ISO National Bodies quite properly thought that it is inapprioprate for an International Standard to encode the flags of some countries and not the flags of others. You can stuff your condescension, Mark.

I fully agree. Either all of them or none of them (or just a generic
white flag).

>> So the request expanded from 10 to all countries, then to all possible countries.
> THIS is the actual proposal, Mark: which you should have cited while you were rubbishing it. In my judgement it is better than the kludge that Martin criticized.

The interpretation of "all countries" has political and historical
consequences :

How many countries ? Only those that are UN members TODAY, excluding
historic UN members and other historic countries that have had various
flags before adopting a standard one long before the UN (or the former
SDN) ever existed ?

And what about existing countries that are not UN members ? We should
then add UN observers, plus countries that are still recognized by the
UN but not existing in their territories (e.g. Western Sahara), or
whose existence is contested but really have an local administration
not obeying the legilation of the other UN member that claims their
authority on them (e.g. Taiwan, Palestine, or the cessessionist part
of Moldova) ?

And do all countries really have an official flag ?

And should we also include flags that are legalized in dependencies of
another country (e.g. in the French dependency of New Caledonia, with
its special and transitory autonomy status) ? Then what about the
non-official flags used informally in those dependencies (see for
example flags used in Martinique), which we often see as flags
representing Internet domains or ISO 3166-1 entities ?

For Unicode, the guide should be based on actual usage of these flags,
but there will be vetoes at ISO... This is a difficult issue, for
which the current solution based on images embedded in rich texts
still works. For plain-texts, we still have country codes, country
names, possibly with surrounding puntuation marks, and in my opinion
it is enough.

Finally, many countries will have flags that are confusive if colors
are not very precisely represented (some of them only vary by a small
shading difference in one of their colors, using exactly the same
geometries; tricolors are the most frequent cases, wth the additional
problem that some flags are normally shown vertically when others are
shown horizontally, or may even be in the opposite direction, or in
all possible directions where they will create new confusions).

So I'd advocate for now only very few flags : only generic white or
black flag symbols, not representing any particular political entity.

The alternative would be to encode a pair of special punctuations
surrounding an ISO 3166-1 code, so that renderers would draw either
these special flag-like brackets around the code, or the code whithin
a genric white flag, or subsitute an image...
Received on Wed May 30 2012 - 21:24:41 CDT

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