Im wondering if you somehow dropped a "not" in your first parenthetical remark.
The fundamental problem here is that \w and behaves different if the string is utf8 or not. We want to make it so \w does the same thing regardless. That means that we end up breaking someones code. I really dont want to have to support three modes, one for the current broken behaviour, one for utf8 and one for ascii. I would much rather just support one mode, and have it be able to cover all the bases. Whether this is feasable or not going forward isnt clear.
Feel free to provide more details on how these issues are tackled in other languages.
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