Question Three: New top level domains?greenspun.com : LUSENET : IS99 Project : One Thread
Should there be more top level domains? If so, do you have an opinion about how they should be chosen and how they should be allocated? What is your own personal view?
What are some examples of top level domains you would like to see created in the short- and long-term? How would you like to see them operate?
-- Dialogic (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 07, 1999
I'm answering the following only in the context of the ICANN root. Other root systems might have policies that are quite different.
Yes, and the number of them should be measured in multiples of the base unit of 1000 over the next four years.
> If so, do you have an opinion about how they should be chosen and how they should be allocated? What is your own personal view?
First come, first serve.
There should be no mandate for shared registries except in the existing legacy .com/.net/.edu/.org TLDs. The new TLDs should be free to experiment with business structures.
-- Karl Auerbach (email@example.com), December 08, 1999.
I see no reason not to offer more TLDs. The only objection has been from the US trademark lobby which desires a means of easily eliminating infringers from any new domains. The new UDRP presumably provides that.
The more difficult question is "How many?"
-- Diane Cabell (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.
I have very mixed feelings about this question, but I think it's inevitable. Basically, I'd like to see so many that they become meaningless, but there will still be disputes just as there are disputes over trademarks. However, an environment of numerous TLDs would eventually mean that NSI or or its successor would be regulated by the market rather than by ICANN, which would be a good thing.
I won't give examples because I leave that up to the creativity of the market players. I'd like to see them operating with a diversity of business models and rules. I am not sure how they should be allocated/monitored....that's the big question!
-- Esther Dyson (email@example.com), December 08, 1999.
I have no technical expertise, and view the question as a lawyer with some business understanding. I do not like artificially created limited resources that raise prices and in this case limit access to the internet. However, I recognize that some names will always be more desirable than others and will be in short supply. Also, more names may induce more confusion (perhaps). Nonetheless, within technical limitations I would create as many domain names as the market demands. It will reduce hoarding of names (although the short accessible and recognizable ones will be more valuable).
Clearly, these added names will impose on trademark owners added costs of protection. I do not believe that their interests are sufficient to trump the interest of developing further access to the Internet. Dispute resolution mechanisms are the solution (reducing the owners' costs of protection).
-- Tamar Frankel (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.
This strikes me as a no-brainer. I cannot imagine good reasons why the artificial scarcity of TLDs should be retained. There was and is nothing magic about having 7 global generic TLDs, no larger purpose that was or is served when the initial design implemented these 7 only, and nothing (as I understand it) on a technical level that would militate against adding new ones. Namespace is effectively unlimited, and the market is the best -- indeed, the only -- viable means of allocating this resource. The value of existing second-level names in existing TLDs will, of course, decline -- but the policy should not be chosen on the basis of protecting existing nameholders. TLDs can be allocated on a first-come first-served basis -- if someone wants to start a .biz, or .stuff, or .computer, or .store, or .law, or . . . . . registry, why should we stop them from doing that? The tools to navigate through this more complex space are available, or will be developed in response to consumer demand if those TLDs are successful in attracting registrants.
-- David Post (Postd@pop.erols.com), December 08, 1999.
[Agreed that it's a no brainer.]
Originally there was a concern that if the TLD space was totally unlimited, it would result in a huge, flat file with millions of addresses in it. That defeats the purpose and efficiencies of the hierarchical system that was designed precisely to avoid that. If the entire file has to be updated continuously every time there is a single TLD change, then the system becomes unwieldy.
I'm not sure whether this is still the case and whether router efficiency is still threatened or how large a list would push the envelope. Fact check needed.
> Namespace is effectively unlimited, > and the market is the best -- indeed, the only -- viable means of > allocating this resource. The value of existing second-level names in > existing TLDs will, of course, decline -- but the policy should not be > chosen on the basis of protecting existing nameholders. TLDs can be > allocated on a first-come first-served basis -- if someone wants to > start a .biz, or .stuff, or .computer, or .store, or .law, or . . . . . > registry, why should we stop them from doing that?
Stability, financial security, competence. This is a technical service after all although it's a pretty simple one. One doesn't want commercial or personal entities investing good money in their websites only to discover that the registrar has gone bankrupt. What happens to those TLDs? It seems reasonable to set some criteria, the same way we do for state corporations as a protection to consumers. In this case, the agency responsible for administration simply couldn't handle even a thousand applications at once. If the gTLD is issued to an entity for its own use, without 2LD resale to the public (e.g., www.ibm) then this aspect may be of less concern. But we do bump all the present registrar problems up to another level (trademark disputes, equal access problems, etc.).
> The tools to > navigate through this more complex space are available, or will be > developed in response to consumer demand if those TLDs are successful > in attracting registrants.
Yes. But this may also reduce the need to issue more gTLDs. The main reason to add more (in my view) is simply to ensure that there will be competitive pricing and service in the gTLD registry function. That doesn't exist at present. Of course, that requires setting up new registries to compete with NSI.
-- Diane Cabell (email@example.com), December 08, 1999.
i think gTLD expansion is inevitable and that there are two options to solve this problem. the first is for ICANN to go ahead and expand the number of gTLDS as has been envisioned (i.e., add.biz, .inc, .sex, etc.) and let the market forces sort them out. another solution is to create sub domains within the current gTLDs. for example, you could have .inc and .biz be sub-domains under .com (i.e., sony.com could become sony.com.inc, or sextoys.com could become sextoys.com.sex. that way, everyone could be a .com but also have a new discriminator. those that wanted to stay as .com as the pioneers/original claimants could choose to remainas plain vanilla .com, not .com.com. would this really work? i don't know, the tech guys would have to tell us that. another possibility is to take away every .com designation and force people to adapt a new gTLD suffix more specific to their business vice the generic (and coveted) .com appellation. this way, everyone equally loses and the whole system has a chance to rationalize itself.
which oens hsould be first? i think the obvious ones are related to the .com domain and whcih is where the demand for growth and variation most asserts itself. expansion ought to follow along with what is going on in the real cyber world, i.e. where the action is so we would be looking at such gTLDS as: .inc, .biz, .sex, .corp, .music, .stocks, .spam (or.dma?).
-- Marc Luoma (Marc_Luoma/FS/KSG@ksg.harvard.edu), December 08, 1999.
Yes, there should be more gTLDs. Expanding the number of TLDs will increase consumer choice, and create opportunities for entities that have been shut out under the current name structure. It doesn't make sense to continue a situation in which huge segments of the general public view .com as the only "real" TLD, but every word in a typical English- language dictionary is already registered as an SLD there. This situation is currently requiring companies to register increasingly unwieldy domain names for themselves, and is inflating the value of the secondary (speculators') market in .com domain names.
Right now, .com stands astride the name space as the dominant commercial TLD. Companies that currently have a domain name in the form of
have an extremely important marketing and name-recognition tool. They have an advantage over all other companies that do not have addresses in that form, because they are the ones that consumers, surfing the Net, will be able to find most easily. If the name space is expanded, companies will be able to get easy-to-remember domain names more easily, and the entry barriers to successful participation in electronic commerce will be lowered. Similarly, addition of new gTLDs could enlarge noncommercial name space.
Addition of new gTLDs will allow different companies to have the same second-level domain name in different TLDs. That is (to pick an arbitrary example), shopping.com might face competition from shopping.biz and shopping.store. Those businesses will have to compete based on price, quality and service, rather than on the happenstance of which company locked up the most desirable domain name first.
Indeed, expanding the name space could help solve one of our most intractable problems relating to trademark and domain names. Currently, when multiple unrelated companies have the same or similar names (such as United Airlines and United Van Lines), there is no good way to resolve the question of who gets the valuable domain name
. But if the domain name space were expanded, so that one firm could have, say, and another could have , many of these disputes could be avoided. Consumers, understanding that a given SLD string can belong to different companies in different TLDs, would be less likely to jump to the conclusion that any given domain name was associated with a given company.
In choosing and allocating new gTLDs, ICANN can take one of two approaches. Under the first approach, ICANN would select new gTLDs to be added, and then solicit applications from would-be registries to run those gTLDs. Under the second, ICANN would accredit registries by reference to criteria including the applicants' technical abilities to perform registry services and financial stability, and the registries would then decide for themselves what the names of their gTLDs would be (subject to a process under which ICANN could resolve conflicts, and could deem certain gTLD strings out of bounds).
Notwithstanding that these two approaches are often presented as radically different, they are more similar than they appear. Under either approach, a relatively small group of people will choose the names of the new gTLDs. Under the first, the decision will be made by ICANN decision-makers, on the basis of their views as to which new gTLDs would be most beneficial to the community. Under the second, the decision will be made by registry operators, on the basis of their views as to which new gTLDs are most desired by the community (that being the course that will generate the most registration dollars). These are similar considerations, and will likely result in similar sets of names.
Under either approach, if ICANN lets *enough* new TLDs into the root, it will be the Internet users themselves who ultimately decide which gTLDs succeed and which will not. Users will make their own choices as to which top-level domains to register names in; as a result, some new gTLDs will thrive, and some will stagnate. It will be the community that decides.
In that respect, ICANN's choice between these two approaches is not crucial. What is most important is that ICANN adopt a policy under which it is relatively easy to get new gTLDs into the root (whether operated by a newly created registry or an already-existing one). That is, ICANN's criteria for the qualification of new registries should not be unreasonably burdensome. Moreover, to the extent ICANN passes directly on the content of a proposed new TLD string, its processes should be geared towards approval without extensive delays. Finally, aside from its reasonable limitation on the *pace* of gTLD expansion during the phased rollout period, ICANN should not seek to limit the total number of gTLDs short of the bounds of the technically feasible and operationally stable. If ICANN's process satisfies these criteria, then either of the selection processes described above will work.
Some people argue that new gTLDs should be predominantly or entirely limited-purpose domains (that is, .airline rather than .firm). Their arguments are that limited-purpose TLDs give more information to the consumer (a consumer can expect that united.airlines is an airline, not a trucking company) and will be less threatening to trademark interests opposed to the expansion of the name space (because United Airlines will not feel threatened by the registration, say, of united.books). Some even argue that ICANN should map out, at the start, a framework of limited-purpose TLDs, such as .transp and .health, so that users could rely on the structure of the DNS in seeking the URLs associated with particular businesses or content providers.
Limited-purpose TLDs can be useful. They should not, however, be the *only* new gTLDs. For the reasons stated above, .com is currently the 500- pound gorilla of TLDs, and domain names in .com have tremendous (artificial) market value. Adding a set of limited-purpose TLDs would not change that: there would remain .com (and to a lesser extent .net and .org) atop the TLD pyramid, and a mass of special-purpose TLDs below. Alternative *general-purpose* top-level domains, by contrast, could provide effective competition to .com. This would more nearly level the playing field for individuals and businesses seeking attractive domain names, and would diminish the ability of a minority of e- businesses to collect rents based simply on their registration of good names in the "best" TLD. This suggests that the ideal system would be one that mixes new limited-purpose gTLDs with new general-purpose ones.
-- Jonathan Weinberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.