The scope of Unicode (from Re: How can my research become implemented in a standardized manner?)

Rick McGowan rick at
Thu Oct 22 11:54:01 CDT 2015

Hello William,

Answers to most of your questions can be found among the pages of the 
Unicode Consortium website. I'll try to answer your questions about 
scope which may also be of interest to other subscribers, but please 
note that *everything I say in this e-mail is solely my own opinion and 
does not reflect the opinions or policies of Unicode, Inc, or any of its 

> What is the scope of Unicode please?

The scope of The Unicode /Standard /(TUS) is set forth in Chapter 1, 
which you can find here: 

The scope of the Unicode /Consortium /is essentially distilled in the 
mission statement, which is on the home page:_
__ on the "What is Unicode" page here:_
under the heading "About the Unicode Consortium"... and formally here, 
in the corporate bylaws:_
under "Article I - Purpose and Membership", which says:

    ...This Corporation’s specific purpose shall be to enable people
    around the world to use computers in any language, by providing
    freely-available specifications and data to form the foundation for
    software internationalization in all major operating systems, search
    engines, applications, and the World Wide Web. An essential part of
    this purpose is to standardize, maintain, educate and engage
    academic and scientific communities, and the general public about,
    make publicly available, promote, and disseminate to the public a
    standard character encoding that provides for an allocation for more
    than a million characters.

> Can it ever change?

The answer to that question depends on what you mean by "it", and 
"change", really. The scope of the /standard /has changed several times 
over the course of its history, as has the scope of the /consortium/, 
for good reasons. For example, the corporate scope was expanded to 
include a variety of standards beyond just the character encoding 
standard, which were of interest to members (and continue to be of 
interest). The scope of the /standard /was expanded to include code 
space for more than 65,536 characters, to include characters needed for 
historical scripts, and so forth.

> If it can change, who makes the decision? For example, does it need an 
> ISO decision at a level higher than the WG2 committee or can the WG2 
> committee do it if it so pleases?

Like any /corporation/, the Unicode Consortium bylaws are subject to 
changes from time to time. The full members, as set forth in the bylaws, 
are the ones who may make changes to the bylaws. There are some 
restrictions, of course, such as operating within various legal 
parameters and within the scope of a public-benefit charitable 
organization, as defined under US law.

The /standard /is mainly controlled by the Unicode Technical Committee, 
operating under the TC Procedures laid out here:_
and subject to interpretation or restriction by the officers and board 
of directors. The UTC works very closely with members of ISO/IEC 
JTC1/SC2 and the working group WG2 under it. (You can find out about ISO 
procedures and so forth on their site.)

> How can a person apply for the scope of Unicode to become changed please?

The most direct way to influence the scope of the Unicode Standard is 
through becoming a full member of the consortium:
so that you can vote in corporate meetings and for members of the board, 
as well as in technical committees. Then, presumably, you would go to an 
annual member's meeting (or call for a special meeting) and present your 
case for the scope of the consortium to be changed. Then, if you want to 
change the scope of The Unicode Standard, you call for a vote in the UTC 
and achieve a majority of votes on whatever resolution you put to the 
committee. This is /intentionally /a weighty process.

> I have been considering how to make progress with trying for my 
> research to become implemented in a standardized manner.

Personally, I think you're getting ahead of yourself. First, you should 
demonstrate that you have done research and produced results that at 
least some people find so useful and important that they are eager to 
implement the findings. Then, once you have done that, think about 
standardizing something, but only after you have a /working model /of 
the thing sufficient to demonstrate its general utility.

While I do not speak for the UTC in any way, observations of the 
committee over a period of some years have led me to conclude that they 
never encode something, call it "X", on pure speculation that some 
future research might result in "X" being useful for some purpose that 
has not even been demonstrated as a need, or clearly enough articulated 
to engender the committee's confidence in its potential utility.


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