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A problem with your suggestion is that in most of the distributed,
heterogenous environments that people are moving to now, there's not a
clear separation between syntactic and semantic problems with a
namestring.  Add a unix system to your search-list, and suddenly the
slash character turns from syntactic garbage to an essential part of an
address.  So I wouldn't want the error/no-error distinction to depend on
whether the string was ill-formed or merely happened not to point to a
reasonable place in the current environment.

- Scott