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Reaction to New Top Level Domains

ICANN's latest announcement of preliminary approval for two new top level domains (.mobi and .jobs) and it's recently ended meetings in Cape Town, South Africa, have sparked off renewed discussions for the introduction of new TLDs — more specifically, the expansion of sponsored and generic top level domains (TLDs).

The following is a collection of recent commentaries made by both technical and non-technical members of the community with regards to the expansion of the domain name space. To add your comments to this collection, please use the comment entry form at the bottom of this page.

"For the Community, however, inefficiencies restrict the ability to communicate and otherwise promote an exact Internet destination to the labor market.  The default evolution, by necessity (and skewed particularly within the .com zone), has seen this Community implement creative methods (creative URL's) including use of a link or other reference to a particular part, sub web or third- or fourth-level domain within the employer's website to communicate and promote HR (including jobs) information.  A shared and common need of this Community is for a reasonable and consistent method for promotion and location by way of a descriptive format within a new Top Level addressing hierarchy (i.e. companyname.jobs).  Such an sTLD will provide this Community efficiencies for identifying the HR element — an exact destination (i.e., a "jobs" page) consistent with the organizational strategy this Community has historically been charged to carry out, including with other forms of media, in its communication to the labor market."

Employ Media, Applicant for .job sTLD
Source: ICANN sTLD RFP Application

"The sponsored TLD community to be served by the mobile specific domain name space is limited to the following stakeholders:

* Individual and business consumers of mobile devices, services and applications
* Mobile content and service providers
* Mobile operators
* Mobile device manufacturers and vendors
* IT technology and software vendors who serve the mobile community

All aforementioned stakeholders will benefit by designation of a clearly identified TLD for mobile optimised Internet content and services. Even though mobile service operators and content providers, so far acting separately, have made efforts to try to serve the online needs of the mobile market, these efforts have been uncoordinated. Thus the benefits to consumers have been far smaller than if these efforts were harmonised under a single TLD name space to serve the entire community. Indeed, for each of the stakeholders described above, designation of the mobile specific TLD name will foster the widespread adoption of mobile and wireless devices to access the Internet and ultimately the convergence of Internet and mobile telecommunications."

Nokia Corporation, Vodafone Group Services Ltd, Microsoft,
Applicants for .mobi sTLD
Source: ICANN sTLD RFP Application

"Let me respond specifically to an example of a concern. This is in the gTLD space in general. I want to go on record as saying, because I said it in another session a couple of days ago, that I am no longer sure that I have a strong understanding of why I would be motivated to create a new TLD. I'd like to have a much better philosophical basis for making that decision than I feel I have right now.

For many, many years we didn't create any new ones. And it wasn't because we didn't have an apparatus for doing it. It was because it wasn't clear what the rationale was for creating new TLDs. Second issue. If we pick the wrong philosophical basis and we try to codify that and we end up creating so many TLDs that we actually create a problem with the domain name system, we have a problem."

Vint Cerf, Chairman of the Board of ICANN
Source: ICANN Meetings in Cape Town, Public Forum Part 1

"Should we start making top level domains for every new device that comes out? that's not how the internet works… you have a user agent profile and user agent string that every device sends to your web server, and that is how that should be handled, not with a top level domain name.

Should there be .laptop and .newton or .automobile when my car gets a computer in it? maybe .toaster and .stove for my kitchen?"

Spydr
Source: Slashdot

"There have been several pieces of advice in the community that indicate that in terms of preserving DNS stability, that if it's [addition of new TLDs] done in an orderly way and all the other qualifications which we have been over a hundred times, that it is certainly safe to add chunks of domains to the DNS in units of tens or twenties or something like that a year or every other year or every third year or something for quite a while without any significant likelihood of instability.

Whether I personally believe those numbers or not is irrelevant. Those numbers certainly feel safe to lots of people who spend a lot of their time worrying. There are other people who spend a lot of time worrying about upper limits in terms of sustainability of the system. And those upper limits are very large compared to the order of magnitude of the current number of domains. So it's probably also safe to say very conservatively that there's some consensus in the community that we can do almost anything within the same order of magnitude with the same number of domains without anybody losing any sleep over it. And maybe larger numbers are okay and maybe they aren't.

...I think the distinction I tried to draw in making the laboratory argument is that I, again speaking personally — and I'm one of the most conservative people about this you're going to find, far more so, I think, than any of my colleagues at the table [ICANN board members] — is that I'd like to see more justification for doing this and making more of these than, gee, we think there's an opportunity here.

Now, that can be done either forward or backward, again, speaking very personal opinion. The forward way is, gee, we think there's an opportunity here, and shouldn't that be enough. And my personal answer is, no, that's not enough without a stronger story. And the other way of addressing it would be to say, well, we think there's an interesting opportunity here, and here are the guaranties we're willing to make the broader Internet community and the structures behind this in terms of the broader Internet community to make certain that the effect of a failure, should it fail, is almost zero impact for some — or some value of almost.

I personally am much more sympathetic to an application which says, okay, this could fail, but if it fails, ICANN doesn't get left holding the bag, the registrants don't get left holding the bag."

John Klensin, ICANN Board
Source: ICANN Meetings in Cape Town, Public Forum Part 1

"It's time to simply revamp the entire naming system. With IT being what it is, there's no reason large corporations shouldn't control their own TLD the same way they control their current .com addresses.

If Sony wants everything to be .sony, like playstation.sony or tv.sony or music.sony, then Sony runs the root for .sony and has at it. Of course, the problem with doing that is that there's no automated way (right now) to deal with an enormous splurge in TLDs. But it's not an insurmountable task and could be easily phased into operation as the years progress.

If ICANN wants TLDs to be specific, I see this as being the ultimate and FINAL solution."

Zentec
Source: Slashdot

"The internet should be moving towards ensuring access to any site by any device, not segmenting certain parts for certain devices. ".mobi" sends a message to developers that they should build separate sites for cell phones instead of figuring out how to provide the same content regardless of the user's platform.

XML, semantic web, etc. are all about presenting the data to the user as the user wants it. RSS has helped popularize these concepts, and now ICANN is snubbing this progress and promoting a backwards-looking solution.

Tim Berners-Lee himself is on the record as being opposed to .mobi because it is in direct opposition to the principles of semantic web.

Maybe ICANN should seize ".ie" from Ireland and hand it over to sites that look great in IE and look like crap (or don't load at all) in every other browser."

Anonymous
Source: Slashdot

"This business of if the market wants, I would rather have a strong statement from the registrant community, the at-large community, saying that they are in need of more TLDs, needing more power of expression, that they cannot express themselves with the number of TLDs that they have today. I would rather — I would have a very strong appreciation of a statement coming from that community in that regard. Now, if somebody says to me, "I can — I think we should have more TLDs because we can innovate," whatever that means, "on a system that was not designed to do that." And, of course, "I can also make money."

I have another statement that hasn't been covered yet.
There's so much bandwidth that ICANN can process in terms of responding to the community. There are people, and there are many people, in that community who think that ICANN should be focusing more on the implementation of Internationalized Domain Names that we should be encouraging and reinforcing the deployment of ccTLDs. And if we — and a decision has to be made where to allocate the limited resources that ICANN has. I just wanted to transmit that there is an intrinsic competition for the bandwidth and the capacity to process these requests and things. gTLDs take, as you well imagine, not only a lot of processing time, but that's where most of — I don't want to say "problem" — where challenges come from, including litigation."

Ivan Moura Campos, ICANN Board
Source: ICANN Meetings in Cape Town, Public Forum Part 1

"And one point I'd like to reiterate is that you must not assume that new TLDs will necessarily be focused on commercial or business purposes. I think that there are many new ways that the TLDs can be used, and ways that maybe cannot happen with the existing gTLDs. Maybe just because the names have been taken. And we just have to discover them. But if you just start with the argument that oh, we don't need another top level domain name, do we need yet another search engine when Google was proposed to the world? It was doing exactly the same thing that Alta Vista and others were doing. And now Google is mostly the only search engine most of us are using. So I don't think you can have this forecast and say no to new people who want to try."

Vittorio Bertola, Member of ICANN's Interim At-Large Advisory Committee
Source: ICANN Meetings in Cape Town, Public Forum Part 1

"And one of the things we do in a society of six billion people is they like to distinguish themselves. And they like to distinguish themselves in the cars they drive. In Florida where I live there are 40 customized license plates that recognize the Miami dolphins, the University of Miami, the manatee. You name it, there's a license plate for it, and people pay fees because they want to distinguish themselves. You hear ring tones, it's a multimillion dollar market. People want to distinguish themselves ...if a community of people wants to come together and say we would like to distinguish ourselves on the Internet by having a top-level name, I think we need to make sure that there is a process by which they have that ability. And we want to make sure we don't have restrictive practices in place."

Michael Palage, ICANN Board
Source: ICANN Meetings in Cape Town, Public Forum Part 1

"I really like these two top level domains — actually, I like the whole idea of specific domain names for specific purposes. While adoption will be limited at first, the idea is solid. It would be very helpful to have a set descriptor that can be used for every company's Web presence, making it easier to find the information you want.

Some would argue that there is better value in creating subdomains to reach the same goal. Take a mobile website, like a mobile version of Geek.com (currently available at http://www.geek.com/portable/intro.htm). We could set up http://geek.mobi and make the address easier to input and recognize, or we could use http://mobile.geek.com and keep our "Geek.com" brand preeminent. Both approaches would work.

However companies decide to do it, I hope there is some consistency. Not finding the information you are looking for is antithetical in the Internet world."

Joshua
Source: Geek.com

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Re: Reaction to New Top Level Domains go2ao  –  Dec 16, 2004 3:52 PM PDT

ICANN's present rollout of a series of unwarranted and unwanted (except by the stakeholders) new TLDs requires a few comments about whether the same thing in terms of web addresses can be achieved with far less expense and disruption. It is easy to be critical about ICANN, because ICANN policies, especially in connection with new TLDs, invite criticism. These new TLDs appear to be thoughtless impediments to rational management of the root. Rationalizing top-level domains is okay so long as traffic and, especially, public utility require it. New TLDs arranged around product or service definitions (which with one or two exceptions is what the new TLDs are about) will not make it easier to locate product or service-related information on the web from content producers. ICANN has conveniently ignored this common sense variable. It is as if ICANN had decided to reinvent the telephone numbering system and did that by rolling back ten-digit area codes in order to replace them with the old mnemonic prefixes like butterfield or calumet followed by seven-digit phone numbers. (Try mnemonic phone calls with that kind of a method and see what happens.) A reasonable number of TLD naming arrangements in the Internet name space has real limitations where millions of users are involved. Product and service-specific TLDs introduced holus-bolus are mystifying for average users and they also create additional cost and legal burdens for merchants. What these TLDs actually are is a name-peering method that segregates (rather than integrates)web-site and URL identification for average users and, thus, adds layers of needless and nonsensical data replication for the search engines. There also are additional business burdens related to trademark issues and,not incidentally, numerous and needless domain name purchases to protect brand names (which is fine if the company is Ford Motors or Sears). At any rate, NAME PEERING on the public Internet can be done with level-three and level-four subdomains attached to a single TLD through the use of product and service-specific master channels. What ICANN apparently wants is the 0.25 levy for each new (and unnecessary) domain name from its cadre of registrars, regardless of the confusion and economic hardship this creates. What ICANN should realize is that the name-peering method through the use of generic (or natural language) master channels is within the present scope of the dot-com name space itself, and that the method is not only more rational from the standpoint of utility; but, that the master channels method has already been invented and integrated within the dot-com name space and is, thus, independent from ICANN oversight beyond the registration of level two dot-com domains. A coherent and fully integrated network with hundreds of perfectly resolvable product and service-specific master(generic)channels sits astride the dot-com TLD at this moment. That simple network can do exactly the same thing in terms of public access and utility, as the prolific aggregation of unwarranted and unwanted small business killers now being rolled out by ICANN.

Re: Reaction to New Top Level Domains Christopher Ambler  –  Dec 21, 2004 2:04 PM PDT

Ten years, and we're still waiting.

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