I recently found that Deluge is using country flags to indicate the
location of bittorrent peers. Flags are cute and nice of course (and a
mental exercise), but are geopolitical hot spots.
Upstream didn't like the concern, calling some people (including me?)
"crazy ideologists". But the Fedora maintainer (Peter Gordon) fixed
the bug in Rawhide (but we're still shipping flags in F9 and F10):
But this is not why I'm writing. I'm writing because during the
report, I found that we really don't have any official policy on
flags. All I found in the wiki was what I had written myself a while
ago, here, which is just based on my own experience as an i18n guy:
But we really need a policy. And I thought this list is the best forum
to get it into shape. The history is like this: With RHL 8.0, Red Hat
decided to remove the Taiwan/Republic of China flag from KDE because
of sensitivities/legal requirements of mainland/People's Rebublic of
China. That created some public unease, including people stopping to
use RHL because of that. Red Hat went a bit further of course, and
removed all national flags in a later version.
This is not restricted to Red Hat of course. Microsoft is usually in
the spotlight for such geopolitical concerns:
On geopolitical issues resulting in a worse user experience for
On swastika symbols in Japanese fonts causing user outrage (the
characters were in Unicode at U+534D and U+5350):
These questions remain. Sorry for being a bit forward looking, but I
would hate to revisit the issue later:
* What is the exact policy for Fedora? Why? Is it because of Red Hat's
liability or is there other reasons too?
* How serious is shipping flags? Should they be removed as soon as
they are discovered? For example, should Deluge remove them from F9
and F10 as well?
* Should country flags be avoided at all costs, or is it just the
association of countries/territories/languages with flags that should
be avoided? For example, is it OK to use an icon showing three flags
(of say, US, Italy, and France) to indicate a locale/language
* What about organization/regional/political/historical/religious/linguistic
flags? Examples: UN's flag (presently used as the default icon for
System > Administration > Language in F10), Mississippi's flag, the
LGBT flag, Hezollah's flag, the Confederate flag, the Jain flag, the
Nazi flag, the Tibet flag, and the Esperanto flag. All of these could
* What about political symbols (including the stuff you see in coats
of arms or in the middle of flags)? For example, is it OK to use the
lebanese cedar to refer to an input method for Lebanese Arabic or use
the Tajikistani crown to refer to the Tajik language?
* What about flags used for edutainment purposes? For example, is it
OK to ship an educational game that teaches kids about country flags
or historical flags? Is it OK to use a flag for country/language
selection in a game UI to be used by kids who can't read yet (but may
be able to recognize flags for their country/language)?
* Presently, the Unicode consortium is considering a proposal to
encode various symbols (called emoji) used in Japanese cellphones in
the Unicode Standard. This very large set includes flags of a few
countries, like the flag of the People's Republic of China:
[warning: hundreds of small icons on the page]
From what I can tell, the proposal has a very high chance of
acceptance, and those flags will become Unicode characters. When fonts
we ship start to include glyphs for such flags, what do we do? Do we
remove them from the fonts when shipping them?
Thanks for reading until here,