**UPDATE** This blog entry was retracted from last Friday to clarify the point of the article and to verify facts that some of our readers brought to our attention (thanks for your patience in getting this re-posted!). It was not our intent to mislead the public, nor was it to indicate specific demand, usage or value of IDN’s or symbol IDNs.
The intent of including symbol domains in this original post was to share the “fun” single-character symbol IDN’s we happened to run across since many websites still render symbol domains. It was also interesting to note that Google recently acquired http://whois.domaintools.com/xn--dra.com
on April 18th. We also wanted to provide basic information on IDNs for those readers who are trying to learn more about them.
With today’s updated blog post, we have also shared important information about IDNA 2008 and the fact that symbol domains will stop working with the latest IDN specifications.
For more detailed knowledge on IDNs, we encourage you to paruse this list of helpful resources (please share any others we may not know about):
There are also informative symbol domain forum threads you can join in on to better understand symbol domains and their value from peers:
Post from Friday, April 30th with revisions implemented:
At dinner with friends the other night, one asked why he had never seen emicons used in domain names considering their popularity in messaging. Think about it… Sacred Heart Hospital could use a heart symbol, Seattle Mariners could use a sad-face, etc. After losing them in explanation of ASCII-Punycode translation and IDN’s, I decided the quick way out of the conversation was that they could not be used very easily by most users and left it at that. It sparked my curiosity about symbol domains and discovered that they will continue to exist (as the xn--version) but will stop rendering correctly with IDNA 2008.
Here are some great definitions with credit attributred to Unicode.org’s Internationalized Domain Names (IDN) FAQs:
What is an IDN Domain Name?
Domain names, such as “macchiati.blogspot.com”, were originally designed only to support ASCII characters. In 2003, a specification was released that allows most Unicode characters to be used in domain names. IDNs are supported by all modern browsers and email programs, so people can use links in their native languages, such as http://Bücher.de.
Do IDNs change the Domain Name System (DNS)?
No. Internally, the non-ASCII Unicode characters are transformed into a special sequence of ASCII characters. So as far as the DNS system is concerned, all domain names are just ASCII.
What are some examples of interesting Symbol IDN Domain Names?
We ran across the IDNS for COM/NET/ORG/INFO/BIZ/US and found a list of 10,386 domains which are a single ‘character’. Here is a sampling of some of the most fun symbol IDNs we came across. Again, this is simply a fun list we came across that we wanted to share. Please note our IDNA2008 in reference to symbol IDN domain names rendering.
☂.com xn--m3h.com (this one is SO Seattle!)
What is IDNA 2008 and How does it Impact Symbol Domains?
IDNA 2008 disallows about eight thousand characters that used to be valid, including all uppercase characters, full/half-width variants, symbols,and punctuation. It also interprets four characters differently.
So it appears that although individuals may have browsers & website software which can properly render the symbol domains, as soon as our software starts observing the IDNA2008 standard they won’t. However, even with IDNA2008, these domains are still changing hands.