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Universal Acceptance of New Top-Level Domains Reloaded

Dirk Krischenowski

One challenge for all new top-level domains (TLDs) is the so-called Universal Acceptance. Universal Acceptance is a phenomenon as old as TLDs exist and may strike at many occasions e.g.:

• Using a very short email address like a@d.am
• Using an IDN email address like λ@ελ.ελ
• Using an email address or domain name based on a new gTLD
• Filling out an online form or using a software application either using email addresses or domain names as described before
• Other events

The effect when universal acceptance hits you is that you cannot send or receive email, get error messages or even worse when it looks like everything works but it does not, and you do not even get a notification.

All new gTLD registry operators but not limited to them are facing this problem and registrants are the people that are hurt by this problem.

The software and hardware which does not take into effect that since 2014 more than thousand new gTLDs have been added as valid TLDs. As this software and hardware will still be used for many years, the problems may not be fixed completely anytime soon. ICANN has identified this problem and is working with the Internet community, especially the technical community, to palliate the problem.

Reloaded – The medal has two sides

Throughout the last three years, Universal Acceptance has merely been seen as a technical problem. But as Registry Operator for .berlin, we are not only running all the technical stuff, we also market domain names to Berliners. By this, we have experienced that Universal Acceptance has two sides like a medal. There is not only the obvious technical side that contributes to Universal Acceptance but also the people's side of the medal which seem to us equally important. We brought this to a simple formula which we would like to propose:

Universal Acceptance &nsash; Technical Acceptance + People's Acceptance

Please see our definitions below for which we adopted the existing wording done by ICANN with some new definitions we would like to suggest.

* * *

The technology side of Universal Acceptance

Technical Acceptance – is the concept that all domain names should be treated equally by technical systems. Domain names and email addresses should be accepted, stored, processed and displayed in a consistent and effective manner.

Linkification – is the action when a software application uses algorithms and rules to determine whether a string should create a hyperlink to a valid Internet location (URL) or an email address (mailto:) and executes the linkification.


The people's/consumer's side of Universal Acceptance

Universal Awareness – is when those people who are domain name owners or want to become domain name owners are aware of the large choice and benefits of the new top-level domains that complement the legacy TLDs.

Universal Recognition – is when people, especially Internet users, identify a combination of two or more labels separated by dots as a potential domain name and type it into a browser or search bar or forward that information.


The full picture of Universal Acceptance

Universal Acceptance – is the state when both, technology and people, identify a label.label combination as a potential or real Internet address (= domain name) and perform appropriate action on it.

* * *

Our Suggestion

In order to overcome the Universal Acceptance issues, we would like to make the following suggestion:

With enormous existing funds of over US$ 230 million from the new gTLD auction proceeds, ICANN could spend a serious amount for a worldwide campaign towards all stakeholders relevant to Universal Acceptance. Stakeholders may range from the large Internet companies to software developers, IT people, advertisers and the general public.

By Dirk Krischenowski, Founder and CEO of dotBERLIN GmbH & Co. KG. More blog posts from Dirk Krischenowski can also be read here.

Related topics: Email, Multilinguism, Top-Level Domains


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Well stated Jothan Frakes  –  Mar 15, 2017 10:20 AM PDT

I appreciate that you have documented this so well.

Opponents of new TLDs often point towards mentions of non-functioning domains and use these issues as a means to spread doubt.  Focusing on the technical realm (and I grossly oversimplify the UA issue here) I Help others understand by saying that it is akin to the year 2000 issue, where perfectly functional software which had been built to store 2 digit years needed to be updated to 4 digit years.

Perhaps a better example might be one of internationalization - where software to store a US zip code as a 5 digit or 9 digit number within a customer address would require updating to be alpha-numeric and longer for use in other countries of the world that use postal codes that use a different structure.

With evolution and internationalization, there are often created needs to update systems, tools, and storage in order to things work as expected.

If people are looking for more information about ICANN and the activities of the UASG, there is information available at uasg.tech.  There is now a form which allows trouble reporting for issues of where software is misbehaving or not functioning with a domain name.

Yes, Jothan, thank you.I agree with you Dirk Krischenowski  –  Mar 15, 2017 10:26 AM PDT

Yes, Jothan, thank you.

I agree with you that these issues do not mean the TLDs are broken.

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