Good excuse not to refer to nation states in software

Or, some guidelines for writing anti-statist software.

Microsoft has apparently lost lots of money (thanks SlashDot) because their employees (among other things) didn't know much about political geography. A developer quit the Debian project over inclusion of the Taiwanese flag in KDE, so Debian now has a policy against including national flags.

Some general guidelines:

  • Don't include national boundaries or names of countries in your software. You can refer to continents, regions, and cities, however. For example, my time zone is "America/Los Angeles." (America refers to the continent, not the nation-state.)
  • For languages, it's best to use the localized name of the language in that language. If you need an ASCII version, use the ISO code for the language, region, as well as the official name of the character set. Don't use national flags!
  • If you do refer to a region that happens to be considered by some a country, don't call it a country or a nation-state! Call it a region.
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While the Guardian points

While the Guardian points out how Americans are geographically "unaware", it should be noted that Germany-based BMW had a similar map controversy recently. Seems they "unintentionally" omitted Israel from an online map of the Middle East, and called the whole area Palestine.

http://www.adl.org/Internet_Rumors/Letter_bmw.htm

Perhaps the best known, and

Perhaps the best known, and one of the most expensive, errors was a colour-coded world map showing time zones, which showed the disputed Jammu-Kashmir region as not being in India - an offence under Indian law.

None of my country's territory belongs to it, because we stole it from the natives. I'm glad it's legal for me to say that.