WHOIS to blame when ICANNot have umlauts?


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A quick tale about think before tweeting, anachronism in tech, and humanizing UX.

So I’m trying to register a .blog domain, and this happens:

Umlauts not allowed for my last name on a get.blog domain registry form.

Rage. 😡

Tweet. 🐦

Disbelief. 🤔

After all, they’re Automattic (“A WordPress.com service”). I have friends at Automattic. Would those people dismiss internationalization without some sort of a metaphorical gun pointing at them? Most certainly not.

Alex finally points me to the WHOIS spec:

This gentleman tries to indicate otherwise, but the WHOIS Protocol Specification tells us:

Originally, the predominant text encoding in use was US-ASCII. In practice, some WHOIS servers, particularly those outside the USA, might be using some other character set either for requests, replies, or both.


In other words: Play safe, use US-ASCII. At least, that’s what I would understand as a total dummy in the field.

That being said, the registration form at get.blog could probably do a better job communicating the predicament to some extent. Something along the lines of:

“Sorry about this, but we need to ask you to help us out with a technical issue: Can your last name be spelled differently?”

Because it sure can be. I have grown up in an age where umlauts weren’t accepted even on paper forms in my own country. No biggie, it’s “ue” instead of “ü”.

The thing is, I wouldn’t expect a company like Automattic telling me I cannot be who I truly am without any further explanation. Being informed about the simple fact that higher forces demand adherence here, would definitely encourage me to keep my trust in the service.

Or even better, have the form apply some brains?

Auto-correct ü to ue?


Anyways, no drama intended. After all, I just ordered my .blog domain as Mr. Huebinger —like so many times before.