Not Quite Emoji Domain Names


Like all good geeks, I have far too many domain names that I acquired for interesting projects which never took off. My latest is a bit different though.

https://.ga/

That's "Unicode Power Symbol Dot Gabon". Because why not.

Regular readers will know that I helped get and several power symbols into Unicode. When I do talks about this, I usually refer to them as Emoji because, to most people, Emoji are simply little pictures in text. But that is a gross oversimplification. You know the meme that real Champagne must be from the Champagne region of France - otherwise it is merely sparkling wine? Well, Emoji must come from the Supplementary Multilingual Plane of Unicode otherwise they're just ✨sparkling✨ characters.

Except... That's not quite true. There are a bunch of symbols stuffed in the Miscellaneous block of the Basic Multilingual Plane which are also Emoji.

The Power Symbol appears in the block Miscellaneous Technical. The symbol itself is not an Emoji, but it is in a block which has 18 Emoji. Confused? Good1!

Domain names can only contain the ASCII characters A-Z, 0-9, and -. That's a problem if you speak anything other than basic English. Luckily, there's a workaround! I have a Chinese language domain 莎士比亚.org - through the magic of the Punycode Algorithm, it becomes xn--jlq54w7ypemw.org. This use of non-Latin letters in domains is known as IDN - Internationalised2 Domain Names.

IDNs have several officially supported "scripts" - for example Thai, Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Chinese etc. Each top level domain (like .uk, .com, .中国) can choose which scripts they'll accept. For example, a Chinese Top Level Domain may only accept Chinese characters and not Greek characters. IANA maintains a list of which domains support which scripts. But it is incomplete. Because it doesn't mention Emoji.

The Punycode algorithm works with emoji. This means you can have Emoji in domain names! Mostly. And that "mostly" is important.

Not every Top Level Domain accepts Emoji domain names (because they hate having fun, I guess?3)

The .ga registry doesn't publish any rules showing which scripts it will accept4. But seems quite happy to take registrations for Punycode domains. So I registered https://xn--soh.ga/ and, after an unusually long delay, it worked!

Does this mean .ga is an Emoji domain? No! is not an Emoji! It is a small pictographic symbol encoded in Unicode.

Does this mean .ga is an IDN? No! is not an international script. It is a language-neutral technical symbol.

So what the fuck kind of domain is it?

Drop an answer in the box bellow.


  1. For more information, please read the Book of Genesis, Chapter 11, verses 1-9
  2. As if English weren't international! 
  3. But also, quite reasonably, for legitimate security concerns of having Emoji domains
  4. Do let me know if I am wrong. 

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