April 07, 2004

ICANN's proposed new TLDs

ICANN has asked for input on its new "sTLDs". The first "s" there stands for "sponsored", meaning that the new TLDs are supposed to only take registrations from people, groups, companies, or organizations with something in common. The precise definition from ICANN is "a clearly defined community ... which can benefit from the establishment of a TLD operating in a policy formulation environment in which the community would participate."

The proposed new TLDs are:

  • .asia -- This is probably the strongest of the proposals. The sponsoring group has many leaders from the Asian ccTLD community, it is clearly set up for a particular group, and many members of the group want to be associated with the group (that is, they want to emphasize their Asinaness). This is also probably the best way to get internationalized domain names (IDNs) deployed on a large scale. It is not clear how the names will be assigned; will they be "china.asia" or "sony.asia" or both? Still, a good solid proposal.
  • .cat -- Probably a bad joke. As anyone who has watched ICANN knows, the "s" part of "sTLD" will likely evaporate in a few years if the sponsor can't make money. Witness the strict rules that ".name" was originally under, that then turned into mush. Anyone who believes that the folks sponsoring ".cat" really only intend it for Catalonian probably don't know ICANN's history or think that the sponsoring agency have never heard of cat-lovers. Give these folks their second choice (.ctl) and see if they just evaporate.
  • .jobs -- Yeah, now there is a focused TLD with a purpose. Every company that currently has a domain name but wants to show which jobs they offer will need to buy a second domain name. Counter-proposal: all companies that are offering jobs instead create a URL of http://www.theirdomainname.com/jobs. Easier, cheaper, and more flexible.
  • .mail -- This is lame on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. First, check out their application. "N/A" and "TBD" for sponsor information? How re-assuring. The folks putting this forward have a track record of laziness and immaturity, and have given legitimate anti-spam organizations a bad name.
  • .mobi -- "Individual and business consumers of mobile devices, services and applications" is not a well-defined community, particularly as that group continues to expand. There is no need for the domain name of a device to say "I'm mobile"; that's about as useful as "I'm red". Even if you did want to name it that way, the "mobi" label should go at the left of the domain name, not the right.
  • .post -- Should be as popular and useful as ".museum" and ".aero".
  • .tel (Pulver) -- Just plain silly. What is described is already available as e164.arpa, which is just as ugly but much more useful.
  • .tel (Telnic) -- No defined community, no discernible direction. "I use a telephone" is not a good enough reason to register a new domain name.
  • .travel -- This one is marginally interesting. It has a high chance of becoming the next ".museum" and ".aero" (and possibly ".post"), but it at least has some good mnemonics to it. "www.california.travel" is more sensible than "travel.california.us", but only slightly so.
  • .xxx -- Sounds like "create-a-ghetto-with-built-in-mafia". Give every country whose politicians are supposedly anti-pornography (read: everyone) a perfect excuse to say "all objectionable material can only appear on web sites whose domain names end in .xxx" and see what happens, particularly who gets rich. Seen from the consumer's side, it is unlikely that anyone looking for pr0n is going to say "hmmm, I wonder if this site actually has what I want because it's TLD isn't .xxx". And do you really think that some pr0n provider registering "wetyoungvirgins.com" is going to think "oh, wait, I'd better register that in .xxx instead so people know what I'm offering"?
Summary: Go for .asia and maybe .travel. Skip the rest. And think about my old proposal on reforming the root as a way to get rid of this mess. Posted by lookit at April 7, 2004 02:11 PM