Icon theme specification: Standardizing icon names

Alexander Larsson alexl at redhat.com
Thu Oct 21 10:12:48 EEST 2004

On Wed, 2004-10-20 at 16:02 +0000, Frans Englich wrote:
> On Tuesday 19 October 2004 08:25, Alexander Larsson wrote:
> > On Wed, 2004-10-13 at 16:41 +0000, Frans Englich wrote:
> > > On Tuesday 12 October 2004 09:35, Alexander Larsson wrote:
> > > > Don't add the flags to the spec. Flags are a very complicated political
> > > > area. The very existance of some flag can cause a whole country to ban
> > > > your software. Gnome has decided to never ship flags. Everyone doesn't
> > > > have to follow this, but can we please not standardize on them at
> > > > least.
> > >
> > > The spec doesn't specify how flags should look -- it only pick names
> > > directly derived from a standard by a formal standardization body. "This
> > > is what ISO says, and we only provide a mechanism for standardized
> > > graphical representation" -- that's one way to swear us free from the
> > > responsibility. Also, since it is a formal body, that gives it
> > > legitimacy.
> > >
> > > The design of flags, and shipping of flags is an implementation issue,
> > > AFAICT. If someone don't want flags, they can skip implementations that
> > > shows them, use blanc icons for the flags, or simply violate the
> > > specification.
> > >
> > > We've had similar cultural issues in KDE; country/region about
> > > China/Tibet, for example. However, to _my_ knowledge, we haven't had
> > > trouble with merely shipping the flags.
> > >
> > > Could you elaborate on what trouble Gnome have had? And more exactly what
> > > the result is(examples)?
> > >
> > > Currently, I think it can be solved by practical means, and firm policy.
> >
> > Its not about naming, or the exact design. Its about politics. E.G. If
> > you ship a taiwanese flag, your software will not be allowed to be sold
> > in mainland china. If the spec requires that icon themes have some flag,
> > there is a high probablility that some contry/etnicity/whatever takes
> > that as a political statement. The fact that some formal body was
> > involve does not change this.
> >
> > We have had huge flame wars on gnome lists about flags, and I'm not
> > interested in bringing them here. If you want to read flames, try
> > searching for the flags thread on desktop-devel-list at gnome.org.
> >
> > It suffices to say:
> >
> > Gnome will never ship any flags, nor depend on any software or standard
> > that mandates the existance of flags. The same goes for Red Hat.
> But you do ship browsers which allows the selection of character encodings? As 
> said, you don't have to ship the actual flag symbols, but images that are 
> blank, transparent or have some trivial symbol. The specification wouldn't 
> force you to have actual Taiwanese/whatever flags, only to have images named 
> flag-xx(or use the yet to be specified pseudo icon mechanism). In either 
> case, you won't show flags in your interfaces -- wouldn't it be ok to have 
> files on the hard disk named flag-xx, where xx is per ISO 639?

Ah, so we'd make the taiwanese flag blank, meaning we're suddenly siding
with china in the taiwan/china conflict, and all taiwanese people would
hate us. Not a good standpoint either.

The only way we would ship this is with blank files for all flag-xx.
What use is standardizing them then?

The character encoding <-> flag relation is a red herring anyway.
Character encodings don't map well onto flags. Flags tend to map to
languages, not countries, and many countries use several languages.

Anyway, It seems I have started a flags thread here now, which will soon
degenerate into a flamewar. Just like I said I didn't want. 

To avoid further arguing on why flags are good/bad, I'll re-state the
reason I think flags should not be in:

If the standard mandates flags, neither Gnome nor Red Hat will ship
anything based on this (this is the policy of both organizations, and
likely many other organizations), thus such a standard will not be used
by a large group of the target audience. Lets not argue their respective
decisions here, as this has already been argued to death in each
organization[1]. Thus, it would be good for the deployment of this
standard if it didn't contain flags.

[1] Here are some flames on the subject from Gnome
 Alexander Larsson                                            Red Hat, Inc 
                   alexl at redhat.com    alla at lysator.liu.se 
He's a lonely vegetarian card sharp She's a blind streetsmart detective trying 
to make a difference in a man's world. They fight crime! 

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