emojis everywhere, seeking understanding / clarity / opinion

Buddha Buck blaisepascal at gmail.com
Sat Apr 7 14:50:39 EDT 2018

On Sat, Apr 7, 2018 at 2:12 AM Wm via gnucash-devel <
gnucash-devel at gnucash.org> wrote:

> background:
> gnc 3.0 allows emojis in places I think inappropriate
> e.g.
> account names
> account codes
> securities

I do not think it is GnuCash's place to dictate what is "appropriate" or
not for such fields. Account names and codes are, to the best of my
knowledge, specific to the user and can be whatever they want. Securities
may be used as lookups against external references, so securities with
emojis would not, I expect, work as lookups.

> and offers them in places it shouldn't
> e.g.
> dates
> numbers

I doubt that a date or a number with an emoji would parse correctly, so it
shouldn't, in practice, be a problem.

the thing I'm wondering about is if I am totally out of date or just
> being realistic.
> Argument A: emojis are everywhere, everyone knows what they are, they
> all mean the same thing, you're an old, out of date, fart, blah [3]

I wouldn't say you are "an old, out of date, far, blah". There are
perfectly good reasons why you might find emoji in these cases to be
inappropriate, and not use them. I personally can't think of a good reason
to use them. But GnuCash isn't saying you must use them, only thaty you may.

> Argument B: emojis are non standard, depend on platform, environment and

are by definition inconsistent and can't be reported on, used for tax
> purposes, used internationally or generally be used for significant
> financial communication [1]

I agree with some of this, disagree with other of this.

Emoji may very well be not suitable for financial communication, and might
be completely inappropriate for communication with the relevant
governmental organizations.

But they are standardized (by the Unicode Consortium), consistent, and are
used internationally. Their dependency on platform and environment is the
same as any character in a font -- certainly there are differences between "
I", "I", and "I", even though they are all semantically the same character
(a capital I).

As far as Unicode is concerned, while they are categorized differently, an
emoji like 😀 is as much a valid character as Ѣ, and it is perfectly
reasonable to expect people who normally write the character Ѣ to want to
use it in their account names.

I also think there is something else (Trump supporters really should
> just leave the room now, it'll save you apoplexy).
> it would make more sense to me if, long term, gnc allowed other
> character sets (words have meaning) rather than trying to allow ill
> defined jumbles of high bit chars in plain text xml files [4]

Agreed. Ill-defined jumbles of high bit chars in XML files is bad.
Fortunately, UTF-8 and Unicode is not ill-defined.

> my suggestion is that words that are understandable to the user, their
> community in general, their tax and government authorities, etc are more
> useful than emojis

Perhaps, but I don't think it is GnuCash's place to dictate that.

Besides, until the time comes where I am audited, the government
authorities do not need to see what I keep in my personal books. Even then,
the IRS auditor may be slightly confused by my calling my Medicare
withholdings "Expense:Taxes:NHS" and my Federal withholdings
"Expenses:Taxes:Inland Revenue", but ultimately, she isn't going to care.
If she is a nerd of the classics, she might ask why I have "Expenses:☤"
instead of "Expenses:⚕", to which I'll answer "this is the US; the symbol
of the God of Commerce is more appropriate than the symbol of healing,
don't you think?".

> ===
> and from a personal POV I just don't like them and think their use
> inappropriate in a broad project like gnc that tries to be agnostic.

GNC does try to be agnostic. Adhering to a broad standard like Unicode is
*precisely* being agnostic. Catering to your personal POV is not agnostic.

> half for fun is this (.)(.) female breasts, an overweight man's chest or
> a pair of eyes ?  We think we know when we use them and they're often
> fine amongst friends ... but do they belong in an accounting application
> as accounting is, usually, formal in one sense or another and often used
> for communicating to people outside of our immediate social circle.

The emoticon you gave is not an emoji, and is not standardized by the
Unicode Consortium. It seems a non-sequitor to this discussion.

> or to put it another way, do we want to be the accounting program that
> allowed someone to use a picture of a turd for the inland revenue and
> then used that in their tax return :)

I think it is generally recommended that people use the output of GnuCash
as a source of data for filling out Inland Revenue forms, as GnuCash can't
generate tax forms itself. Besides, the mapping of personal accounting
accounts to the data needed on the forms isn't necessarily easy. It may be
important for your own accounting to have separate accounts for things
which go onto form SA103F, line 22 (Repairs and Maintenance of Properties
and Equipment), for instance.  So the fact that you keep track of the
maintenance of the portable toilets on your jobsite as "Expenses:💩💩
Cleanup" is immaterial; you aren't going to send that to HMRC.

> ===
> [1] I accept, absolutely, that a nice smile face (I tend to stick to
> text, myself) is pretty much universal these days; my argument is that
> when you send me your emoji it doesn't necessarily appear the same to
> both of us, mainly because there are a whole bunch of people owning [2]
> these things.

In general, I'm not sending you my accounts. So what does it matter?

Besides, the "whole bunch of people owning these things" quickly discovered
that the issue you bring up is a problem, and they got together to
standardize it to eliminate the problem. When you send an emoji to someone
else, they don't necessarily get the exact same rendering of the emoji that
you sent, but if you sent a "🧕", they should get an emoji representing a
"woman with headscarf".

> [2] since some emoji sets are proprietary, how does that fit in with gnc
> as an open source accounting project ? <-- I'm not invoking Stallman
> weirdness so much as practical stuff like: are we all seeing the same
> thing?

The "people owning these things" turned control over them to the Unicode
Consortium, an international standards body.

> [4] did a dev look at that and think, "super idea, we *must* include
> non-text chars in our text based xml file.  absolutely.  best idea ever
> hashtag" or whatever the current parlance is.

More likely a dev said "If we are an international project, then we must
*absolutely* support internationalization and localization, and supporting
Unicode text is part of that support.". I doubt that support for emojii in
particular entered into anyones thoughts.

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