Tell them to GO FISH?, aka Carpe Carp [Sarcalogos] (Seize the [Christian] Fish), aka Unicode List (where characters discuss character encoding)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/10/01 00:01 -07:00, original URI:

If you are a member of the Unicode List, and you do not have any real sense of what you should or should not contribute, then it is worth realizing that you have no disadvantage compared to the people who do contribute regularly -- they don't know much about it either. :-)

But if there is one rule worth learning, it is simple.

Avoid Hyperbole.

Making an outrageous or in some other way extreme claim about a character encoding proposal is a huge mistake, even if you suggest it in the context of an "April 1st" prank proposal.

And it happened this weekend1,2 when perennial mischief maker Phillipe Verdy suggested to Jon Hanna's worry about a particular thread that after reading the suggestions given he'd have to find a different post to use for April 1st:

Why not proposing the historical Christian fish symbol at this date (April 1st)?

The fish was used and displayed on many monuments and graves, is still seen on old artistic features (like ceramics) and probably on old scriptures too, by the first Christians, before the Cross during the Roman Empire before it converted officially to the Christian religion, and accepted to use the Cross as an easily recognizable symbol to commemorate those that died on it.

An innocent start, with now retired Asmus Freytag suggesting to the Frenchman:

You haven't been in the US in a while, apparently, or you'd know that the fish symbol is widely used there. I'm not (just) referring to its use as a symbol on cars, but in print and other advertising to label commercial enterprises owned by or catering to the "true believers".

While I'm surprised that it hasn't been proposed before, it's clear that it's so far out of the realm of character encoding that it can be safely considered an April Fool's joke.

And then William J. Poser's amusing contribution:

If the Christian fish is encoded, I demand equal space for the Darwin fish.

And now we have a party, with at least another 60 posts in increasing distances from a sensible topic with each successive post.

All I know is that I am sure the UTC will see a proposal at some point for the little bugger....

Anyway, Phillipe added some historical info on the Christian fish (ref: here), which includes info about the "keyboard fish", which looks like this:


And then the conversation moved to bumper stickers and then the various religious/Darwinism arguments, a threat from Her Divine Effulgence Sarasvati to cease and desist with the off-topicality of the thread3 before morphing into a discussion of Egyptian hieroglyphs and the many small fishes that are set to be encoded later.

Like I said, I'm willing to bet this is not the last we have heard about the Christian Fish proposal, and it will not be just an April 1st joke post. I have decided it is an expected risk of putting a bunch of characters in a list to discuss encoding characters....


1- For the record the only bright spot in this whole mess is that most of these people seem to have jobs because the threads that gets tons of participation seem to get it on the weekend.
2 - Of course the flip side of this is that some of these people need to try and get some lives. :-)
3 - This request was of course, mostly ignored in the subsequent 20+ posts.


This post brought to you by , , , , and ⥿ (U+25c9, U+297c, U+297d, U+297e, and U+297f, a.k.a. FISHEYE, LEFT FISH TAIL, RIGHT FISH TAIL, UP FISH TAIL, and DOWN FISH TAIL - all packed in like a bunch of sardines on this one)

# Andrew West on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 5:12 AM:

I'm not sure about your rule on hyperbole -- I always find that an outrageous or in some other way extreme claim is a good starting point for a discussion on the merits or otherwise of some character encoding proposal.

But in any case my number one rule for any mailing list is DO NOT DROP YOUR 'NOT's. I recall a number of cases on the Unicode mailing list where people have said the opposite of what they meant to say by the omission of this one little word, and in this particular instance it now seems evident that Asmus intended to say "it's clear that it's NOT so far out of the realm of character encoding that it can be safely considered an April Fool's joke". And as a pivotal post in the thread, if he had said what he meant the discussion would no doubt have spiralled off in a somewhat different direction than it actually did. (Certainly I would not have needed to make my one hyperbolical contribution to the thread, which was motivated by my surprise at Asmus's apparent position, which was not the position I would have expected him to take.)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 8:20 AM:

Well, he is retired now, which I suppose influences how much he is doing these days with proofreading mail. :-)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Wednesday, October 03, 2007 9:46 AM:

But the real problem is that no matter how outrageous the claim, someone is always there to disagree who is inspired by what they truly think IS  good idea. :-(

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