The Traveler

A cheaper way to travel!

Oh, I’ve been around.

And not just the block, and not just the bend.

I’ve been to like, 49 U.S. states. And like, 38 countries. And I know cause like, I’ve got a spreadsheet.

And I’ve seen some crazy crapola on those travels.

I’ve seen it rain for three days straight in Riyadh and sunny for three minutes straight on Mount Wai’ale’ale. I’ve seen an entire baseball stadium of Japanese people pack out their trash, and I’ve had my balls grabbed by a Chinese guy in a panda suit.

But there’s one thing I’ve never seen, not once in this whole wide, wild world.

Did anybody get a good look at the panda guy?!

An International Domain Name (IDN)

Not once.

Apparently, at some registrars you can register things like お元気ですか.com … and they’ll actually work in web browsers! Maybe even some email clients?

Silly-ly, the way it works is kind of silly… it actually just translates お元気ですか.com into a regular ascii domain like xn--t8jc5b1c114xnw7a.com … and that is what actually shows up in the browser bar (at least in most browsers)!

Anyway, we always thought that was so silly that we never bothered offering IDN registration at DreamHost. We do of course allow hosting IDN domains with us (you just enter the domain into our panel as xn--t8jc5b1c114xnw7a.com or whatever), and currently host over 4,000 of them.

We just thought actually registering them was a lot of work for not a lot of gain.

Fun as it is to program with registry APIs.

A lot of work?

What’s so hard about it? Shouldn’t we be able to register xn--t8jc5b1c114xnw7a.com just like any other .com domain? What extra set up is there?

You’d think that! In fact, I’d think that too!

But no, the registries all require us registrars to specifically activate the ability to register IDNs … and when submitting them we also have to submit what language they’re in!

Why this matters is beyond me. In fact, when you register .com and .net domains, you have a choice of over 100 languages, and they don’t seem to really care what you pick most of the time. However, when you register .org and .info domains you have a choice of only 10 languages, and they’re an odd selection, and they do care.

Those ten languages are: Danish, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Spanish, and Swedish.

Notice any missing? Let’s see, here are the world’s ten most “popular” languages, by native-speaking population:

1. Mandarin Chinese – 882 million (nope)
2. Spanish – 325 million
3. English – 312-380 million (N/A)
4. Arabic – 206-422 million (nope)
5. Hindi – 181 million (nope)
6. Portuguese – 178 million (nope)
7. Bengali – 173 million (nope)
8. Russian – 146 million (nope)
9. Japanese – 128 million (nope)
10. German – 96 million

For crying out loud, they don’t even have FRENCH! Not that I blame them, nyuk nyuk!!

There is just one son, and a golden spoon.

What The Heck

Despite all these short-comings and dubious benefits, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and start registering IDNs anyway!

So go crazy… simply visit our registrations area and enter whatever crazy (utf-8 encoded) characters you want … followed by .com (or .net/.org/.info)!

Of course, you still can’t register domains with spaces in them, REALLY weird utf-8 characters, or mix between left-to-right languages and right-to-left languages. And as I mentioned before, .org and .info are practically useless.

So what I mean to say is, taking into consideration those caveats, go crazy!!

And watch out for Chinese guys in panda suits.