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> it doesn't feel more correct to the programmer.

I agree with the details of what you said, but the insidious thing about how Python 2 organized strings and encodings is that most programmers were free to ignore it and produce buggy software. Then, later, people who had to use that software on non-ascii data would try to use it and it would blow up. This would lead to a very painful cycle of shaking out bugs that the original author may not even be motivated to fix.

The decision to force encodings to be explicit and strings/bytes to be separate was a great design change. It literally made all our code more valuable by removing hidden bugs from it.

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