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Inside 'Emojigeddon': The Fight Over The Future Of The Unicode Consortium (buzzfeed.com) 226

An anonymous reader quotes a report on Buzzfeed: There's trouble afoot inside the Emoji Council of Elders, or, at the very least, signs of a low-simmering schism that's being referred to by some of its participants -- perhaps with less humor than one might expect -- as "Emojigeddon." A series of frustrated emails show a deepening rift between those who adhere to the organization's original mission to code old and obscure and minority languages and those who are investing time and resources toward Unicode's newer and most popular character sets: emojis. From the article: "The correspondence offers a peek behind the scenes of the peculiar and little-known organization that's unexpectedly been tasked with building what some see as the first digital universal language." What are your thoughts of emojis? Have you embraced and intertwined them into your digital language or are you unconvinced of their ability to transcribe any kind of deep understanding?
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Inside 'Emojigeddon': The Fight Over The Future Of The Unicode Consortium

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:29PM (#51992747)

    Whenever we discuss possible improvements to Slashdot, somebody always comes along and begs for Unicode support.

    This submission just goes to show that Unicode support is not a good thing, and it is not needed here.

    Slashdot should not become another Twitter or YouTube, with comments filled with goddamn emojis.

    Slashdot should absolutely not allow itself to become filled with Chinese or Russian spam comments, either.

    As an English-oriented site, anything that needs to be expressed here can be done using ISO-8859-1, and even that's pushing it.

    There is no need for Unicode here at Slashdot.

    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:32PM (#51992761)

      I would like to mod this with the poop emoji.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        And now you know why Slashdot never added Unicode support.
      • Which one?
        The I'm happy to be pooped out Apple U+1F4A9
        The OMG you pooped Google U+1F4A9
        The I hope no one steps on me poop Samsung U+1F4A9
        The I have no life or emotion, I'm just poop Microsoft U+1F4A9

        Or just go full meta and post the toilet U+1F6BD.

    • And compared to the problems with Javascript on their mobile version, especially involving comment moderation, their time can be much better spent than implementing Unicode support.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We could just copy the SoylentNews base and use that. They put it in a year ago.

    • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @08:33PM (#51993023) Homepage

      As an English-oriented site, anything that needs to be expressed here can be done using ISO-8859-1, and even that's pushing it.

      Really? I had a discussion a while ago with another user about an article related to the death penalty about whether the Ten Commandents have a command that should be better translated as "Do not murder" or "Do not kill." That was substantially difficult to do with having to transliterate everything. Similarly, there have been discussions here about the exact Chinese censorship rules and what specific phrases meant, which people had to discuss without actually quoting the actual text. These are just two of the examples I've seen here. I suspect that others can point out many more. Yes, supporting Unicode might mean that there will be emojis on occasion, and they'll get downmodded. They aren't any worse than comments calling everyone cows or whatever the most recent trolling fad is.

      • So, presuming "murder" was the better translation, what exactly did murder entail in the cultural context of the time? I recall that among the Norse, murder specifically meant killing someone in secret, and carried far heavier penalties that taking credit and either paying wergild or exposing yourself to revenge.

        • "murder" is an unlawful killing. Big difference.

          • You say "is". I asked "was" within a particular cultural context. Big difference. I even gave an example where "lawful" wasn't even a factor - under those rules a random traveler could kill because they didn't like the color of your hat, and it wouldn't be murder so long as they bragged about it openly.

            One of the common problems when interpreting ancient texts are to imbue them with modern understandings of the words and concepts discussed, which very often have essentially nothing to with the meanings t

            • Maybe you shop stop trying to base your decisions on interpretations of ancient texts and think for yourself. Killing or murder - try not to do either.
          • Everything that is prefaced by something similar to "Thou shalt not..." in a collection of (valid) regulations is invalid.

            If it would say "You shall not kill", there would be no lawfull and unlawfull killing.

      • You know you have just caused someone to start working on a set of commandment emojis, right?
        Well, I'm sure Chris Hardwick will have a good time with them...
    • by nmb3000 ( 741169 )

      As an English-oriented site, anything that needs to be expressed here can be done using ISO-8859-1, and even that's pushing it.

      I agree with your sentiment but, practically, ISO 8859-15 [wikipedia.org] or Windows-1252 [wikipedia.org] would be better choices.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Pound: £
      Yen: ¥
      Euro: â

      • $ is all that anyone should need, you need to move with the times people, stop hankering for your old world monies.

        The 3 letter currency codes are somewhat nicer than the shitty text spam you get, still pretty shitty.

    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      I'd be happy if they supported Unicode here, for our European, etc., friends to properly spell certain proper nouns.

      I'd also strongly support filtering out all comments that have more than, say, a few such characters to keep the foreign-language spam away.

      And I'd quite possibly stop visiting the site if they didn't filter out all Emoji.

      Or write my own GreaseMonkey script to replace all such instances with "I'M AN ILLITERATE RETARD" so at least I could get some use of the new feature.

      Then I'd down-mod all su

      • "I'd be happy if they supported Unicode here, for our European, etc., friends to properly spell certain proper nouns."

        Even for the terminally xenophobic, there are words used in this country that include the macron and 'okina characters. Then there's that one county in New Hampshire with an umlaut in its name.

        • There's a town in Minnesota with an umlaut in its name as well. They recently had to convince the Department of Transportation to expand their allowed character set in order to correctly spell their name on the highway signs.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04... [nytimes.com]

          • Anyone even remotely connected to this decision should be removed from office immediately. Yes, the DoT has to make rules on highway signs. it's their job. But their actual job is to make highway signs, that show the names of geographic points like towns and cities!

            If they - for whatever reason - can't spell the name of a town, the DoT is not doing their job! Don't get me wrong, there are more than enough reasons to restrict official place names to the alphabet of that jurisdictions official language's alph

    • I think most people just want the site to force map the unicode versions of quotes and dashes to the ASCII versions so that we don't have to do it ourselves when we copy/paste.

      Kinda like having the demoronizer built in.

    • "There is no need for Unicode here at Slashdot."

      [Little yellow round face spewing a pile of vomit]

    • Ok but then get frikkin' quotation marks and other symbols to work properly for heaven's sake!

    • I think you should probably try to loosen up a bit. This forum is not going to be "Overrun By The Commies", whatever they may be. English of a sort is well established as the international language of trade; when I go to China, I can hardly get to practise my Chinese, because they all want to practise their English. And when you attend a forum, you want to make yourself understood, otherwise, what is the point of commenting?

      There are many good reasons for using unicode in an international forum, I don't thi

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Just fix the bloody Pound sign (£) and I'll be happy. Euros (â) are even more broken.

  • No need to fight (Score:5, Informative)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:30PM (#51992751)
    There's plenty of free code points for both dead languages and emojis.
    • To be fair, a lot of the emojis are rather useless.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        To be fair, ALL Emojis are worthless.

        If you can't read, then Emojis wont help.

        If we want a pictogram language, then to hell with Emojis and icons, lets use Kanji - it has been tested over 4,000 years, works, and more than half the world is already using it.

        • Kanji are Logograms as they have phonetic values as well as occasionally being pictographic. And they are the Japanese variant of the chinese Hanji, I assume you mean Hanji are used by half the world.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @05:56AM (#51995163) Homepage Journal

          Emoji are image macros. The old saying that a picture is worth 1000 words is true, and while an emoji might only be worth 5 or 10 it's still handy to have. The most obvious example is the smiley, which indicates something that could otherwise be misinterpreted is said in jest.

          I'm surprised how much hostility geeks have to emoji. We invented the damn things, with things like :-) and ASCII art and Shift-JIS art in Japan. Emoji characters just make them easier to type.

    • As far as "wasting time", it seems to me, without any inside knowledge, that it should be simple enough to have an emoji committee, which does most of the emoji work separate from anyone who doesn't care to be involved in that aspect.

      • As far as "wasting time", it seems to me, without any inside knowledge, that it should be simple enough to have an emoji committee, which does most of the emoji work separate from anyone who doesn't care to be involved in that aspect.

        There is plenty of address space, sure. But isn't the real problem time and money, of which there aren't unlimited amounts of each. In a perfect world, have two groups and let each do whatever the fuck they want to do. Anything created that people think is stupid will just g
    • Yes, but they should be in different standards consortiums. Unicode is for languages. Emoji standardization should be done by a consortium of clown colleges.

      • Emoji standardization should be done by a consortium of clown colleges.

        and disputes resolved by custard pie fights in a big top.

    • The people I work with send emojis to clarify text messages. It's hard to tell if someone is sarcastic in text. But an emoji helps clarify it.

      At first I thought they were silly, and people should just learn to use :-) instead of the emoji for the smiley face.

      But then I realized that it's not the 80s anymore. Computers are mainstream, and that means that things need to be made easier for everyone to grasp what's going on and be included in the discussion. Emojis help with that.

      (That being said, I'm still

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I like how the Unicode standard just ignores the huge problem of combining CJK characters into one big mess. That way you can't tell the difference between completely different languages. It would be like someone saying, hey.. you know what? E and A sound similar, sometimes... so let's just combine those to save some space....after all, we only need to use 640K of RAM for everything....

  • Emojis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:39PM (#51992811)

    Emojis are clip art for millennials.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:40PM (#51992819)
    Are we moving back to replacing words with pictures? Has Chinese been the right way all along?
    • I mean, if a picture is worth 1000 words, then surely a whole line of pictures is worth more!

      I suppose I could make a case that it's inefficient for a 32x32 block of pixels ( 1024^(2^24) possibilities) to have 128 possible values (and not every ASCII value prints). Which is the thing. Emojis are designed to be read more easily, not chosen/sent more easily.

      Bonus paranoid points, they lock people into limited thought processes, therefore benefiting the secret corporate masters.

    • It's an interesting idea. But it's off topic since we're talking about emojis here, which do not replace words with pictures but instead enhance vapid thoughts with pictures.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Chinese characters aren't exactly pictures though. They are ideographs. The key difference is that you can combine multiple ones into a single character that has a complex meaning. You can't really combine emoji, you just have to create a new one that is a picture of the thing you want to describe. Makes writing about new discoveries and ideas difficult.

  • Because they are doing a pretty crap job on both accounts. But hey, thanks for the tiger vs leopard emojis. That distinction is going to come in handy for sure. And let me tell you there's nothing like having to reprogram a backspace key so it knows how to delete a multi-unit vs a one unit UNICODE character. Fun times!

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      Because they are doing a pretty crap job on both accounts. But hey, thanks for the tiger vs leopard emojis. That distinction is going to come in handy for sure. And let me tell you there's nothing like having to reprogram a backspace key so it knows how to delete a multi-unit vs a one unit UNICODE character. Fun times!

      Having written code to do exactly this, on several platforms, I can definitely sympathize. You need to account for far more crap than most here likely realize. Modifiers, joiners, regional indicator symbols, surrogate pairs (older frameworks love UTF-16), and so on. Oh, and it gets even more fun when dealing with a UI framework that tries to be asynchronous.

  • by Tehrasha ( 624164 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:55PM (#51992885) Homepage

    I have watched my sister consistently spend more time trying to find 'just the right emoji' for a message than it took to type the message.

    Emojis need to go the way of geocities, real media, and flash. The sooner the better.

    • Too bad we never had the Unicode consortium standardize on the geocities page design or they'd still be around today.

    • Emojis need to go the way of geocities, real media, and flash. The sooner the better.

      Yes and no. Given the majority of communication in a conversation is non-verbal and that people have a tendency to write the way they speak rather than realise they are on a medium which doesn't tolerate or convey things like sarcasm, emojis serve a very important purpose.

      The poop emoji may not, but a smiley or a wink can add some much needed context to a statement.

    • Emojis need to go the way of geocities, real media, and flash. The sooner the better.

      Actually, I disagree. Emoji support should be everywhere. Why? Because then it means that websites can stop insisting on changing :) into a smiley face.

      The result, is that people who want to show a poo with a smiley face can, and those of us who want to show :) (or other such characters) can also do so without fear that it'll be changed into something else.

      This is a win for everyone.

  • Yeah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Indigo ( 2453 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @07:59PM (#51992897)

    I've been a little worried about the Unicode Consortium ever since 'PILE OF POO' (U+1F4A9) received its own codepoint. Don't know what's going on with those folks, but it doesn't seem healthy. Given that Unicode is an important and widely used standard, it seems like perhaps they should take their work a little more seriously. Or have they already 'JUMP THE SHARK'ed?

    • It's technically supposed to be chocolate ice cream but, no one actually uses it for that.

    • If Slashdot supported Unicode, I'd have to reply by saying U+E115 U+1F988

    • JUMP THE SHARK? Is that some outdated reference from an ancient TV show that is similar to NUKE THE FRIDGE?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Unicode is supposed to replace all previous encodings that people were using. Since people were encoding emoji either with custom characters (e.g. the Japanese mobile operator's extensions to Shift-JIS) or sequences ( e.g. :-) ) there was clearly a need.

      The poo emoji was one of the original custom ones that Japanese phones supported in the late 90s. It was already in widespread use by the time Unicode go to it.

  • by Mantrid42 ( 972953 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @08:07PM (#51992929)
    :)
  • by allo ( 1728082 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @08:16PM (#51992965)

    No comment to the tears of joy smiley, i think you cannot fix it. But the default set from whatsapp (which refuses to respect android's emojis) even ruin basic smileys like big grin or laughing. One of the android manufactures had a nice set, not sure which one, one of htc/samsung/lg i think. But iOS and Google both have not so good ones and even twitter (which gets some better) has smileys where the original meaning gets lost.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @08:51PM (#51993089) Homepage

    The original set of emojis worked nicely for incorporating emotional and attitude markers into otherwise emotionless text. I think we do need something like that in Unicode. The current set, though, goes way too far beyond that and needs to be mercilessly pruned back. Unicode is not supposed to be a way to incorporate every single image anyone could want as a single character. Trim it back and use images for images. To quote someone, "If you're trying to design a hammer that can turn screws, it's time for you to put the hammer down and go get a screwdriver.". OK, it's not an exact quote, but I can't do justice to the interspersed expletives in the original.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Wednesday April 27, 2016 @01:53AM (#51994289)

      The current set, though, goes way too far beyond that and needs to be mercilessly pruned back. Unicode is not supposed to be a way to incorporate every single image anyone could want as a single character.

      And it's not. The reason we have emoji in Unicode should be obvious from the name. The origin of emoji was in Japan, and one of Unicode's goals is to be able to encode all text. So they're incorporating various languages alphabets, then they come across Japanese and put in Kanji. Then they discover that their phones have been sending pictures and had to incorporate those into Unicode. Then they discovered every carrier started having a similar thing but different and had to incorporate those as well. And they've been in Unicode for a while.

      Then a silly fruit company had to release a phone, initially in the US, but then also in Japan. But because they were in Japan, they had to add support for this as well. Then a non-Japanese user discovered with a hack they could type poops and such as well, and started sending their friends poops. And their friends wondered how it was done, installed those hacks, and now what was a Japan-only feature was now world-accessible.

      And now everyone decided they want their own set of what we now called emojis.

      Which meant Unicode now had to incorporate them in order to fulfill its mission to be able to encode every text in it.

    • +1E05.

  • by jgotts ( 2785 ) <jgottsNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @09:03PM (#51993139)

    There is plenty of room in Unicode for both the consortium's original mission and for emojis, or any other type of character that may emerge over time. No character so far has been unfairly excluded: The existing rules have worked well, and Unicode itself works well for both programmers who have done their homework and for users.

    If you're having problems with Unicode then you should join me in programming all modern day receipt printers. (*) They still use Code Page 437, which was created in 1981 or earlier. Almost every business that uses a computerized cash register has at least one of these devices, and to the people who have to program them the beauty of Unicode is oh so evident. Unicode replaces decades of ugly hacks, beginning with CP437.

    I think the problem might be that the members of the consortium are a bit overworked and underappreciated for their efforts. After all, they're doing work that impacts billions of lives. Unicode has made our software automatically portable to virtually every language (aside from the receipt printer which can only very easily do Western languages and perhaps Japanese or Chinese).

    (*) The latest receipt printers are catching up with the times, but you can't code to those exclusively or you'll break your installed base.

    • by colfer ( 619105 )

      Then why can't they fit in Japanese, Korean and Chinese without trying to use the same characters?

      • They can, they just choose not to for philosophical reasons.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        There are two reasons for this.

        1. They made the incorrect decision to merge those languages. The longer they ignore the problem the harder it will become to undo. It's the reason why a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Korean data is not encoded in Unicode too. They just need to admit their mistake and fix it.

        2. They don't have enough 16 bit code-points, and while Unicode does support 32 bit encoding not all software does. Having variable length encoding was another mistake made early on in Unicode's life. They

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2016 @09:42PM (#51993267)
    This query to stackoverflow is four years old, but that doesn't really change things very much.

    I am asking for the count of all the possible valid combinations in Unicode with explanation.

    1,111,998: 17 planes x 65,536 characters per plane - 2048 surrogates - 66 noncharacters
    109,384 code points are actually assigned in Unicode 6.0.

    How many characters can be mapped with Unicode? [stackoverflow.com]

    There is plenty of room for growth here.

    Unicode 8 supports 120 scripts and 14 collections of other symbols of which Emoji is one and typographical decorations --- dingbats --- another. Once you admit that a Unicode graphic can be purposeful, decorative or both, the battle against the admission of Emoji is lost. U 9.0 and Post 9.0 Emoji Candidates [unicode.org]

    Emoji is explicitly Asian in origin --- and that seems to be one of things ticking off the geek here --- but combining words and pictures in casual messaging to provide a touch of color or save some space is very old in the Western world, and doesn't really need a defense.

    The geek who complains about this sort of thing tends to come across as humorless and prissy and a bit out of touch.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      Those "other symbols" were generally added because at the time (the '90s) there was already a font that had them (such as Dingbats and Wingdings Wingdings from Microsoft), or more significantly, a code system (like JIS) that had them. They were trying to unify dozens of code systems, of which there were sometimes four or five for the same 2-byte language. Emoji was originally added because Japanese cell phones at the time had a couple hundred emoji in custom character ranges. I don't think they had color ei

  • Cutesy little pictographs may depict gross emotional states, but getting any kind of refined and accurate communication from such things would be an exercise in futility as they currently stand.
  • ... it draws attention from, for example, this mess: http://www.unicode.org/reports... [unicode.org]
    Did you know that you cannot compare strings in Unicode?
    Or well, I suppose there are 3 living people who understand that.

  • Then why not Unicode representations for different types of snow, sexual positions, fast food menu items, famous buildings, unfamous buildings, every species of bat, all the people who've ever lived and every word in every dictionary? They all deserve their place in Unicode for the same dubious reasons as emojis.
  • Ah, now I realise that this is a Buttfeed article. I can't really imagine there would be any serious conflict about whether to include emojis or not; the Unicode Consortium are a bit more seriousminded than that. What I can imangine is that those who care about standardising emojis want to bring it up in the committee meetings, and the rest go "Groan... Whatever", because it isn't really something of huge importance. Whether there is a standard character for dogshit probably seems of less scientific importa

  • Emojis are the 21st-century equivalent of the "blink" tag. They should be restricted to Geocities web sites.

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