Thursday, January 18, 2018

A web crawler for new gTLDs

ICANN IT has released a UA (Universal Acceptance) Web Crawler that’s been published on GitHub. The website explains that it is "a tool to find the UAC compliance factor of any website". In more simple words: a tool to help you ensure that your domain names and email addresses can be used by all Internet-enabled applications, devices and systems.


What does the crawler do?
I first thought that ICANN had created its own browser but found out that it had nothing to do with this so since I am not geek enough (sorry Don) to try the tool myself, I pasted this from the official website so you can feel free to give it a try yourself:
The UAC Crawler will enable companies and website owners to find out the complexity involved in making their web assets Universal Acceptance Compliant. The idea behind the UAC Crawler portal is that it will give a complexity score which will help nontechnical user base to get started with the UAC journey. The UAC Crawler will crawl the website and generate a list of all internal links - Each use of a link might need to be checked that it can handle UA. It will then generate a score based on how compliant the website links are. The score will be out of 10 and will be based on the following factors:
  • Domain Unicode URL Compliance - Checks if all links are UA compliant. It checks for the HTML encoding of the page to verify if it is UTF compliant;
  • Unicode Email Address Compliance - Checks if all email addresses are UA Compliant;
  • Inactive URL Compliance - The tool also checks for inactive or dead links.
Check the full presentation here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Reserved names : ICANN confirms its list

It will have taken four years for the ICANN to finalize the list of reserved names and put a date on it for its implementation at registrars and registries.


What are we talking about?
The list of reserved names consists in blocking certain domain names from being registered by third parties because they could belong to certain identified organizations:
  1. The Red Cross (www.icrc.org);
  2. The International Olympic Committee (www.olympic.org);
  3. International Governmental Organizations (IGOs);
  4. International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs).
First of August 2018
The first of august if the deadline when all this must be organized and implemented at registrars and registries. In more simple words, it means that keywords from that list must not be made available for registration anymore in any existing (and coming) domain name extension. An example: you will not be supposed to register a domain name such as www.redcross.whatever - www.nisseki.whatever or www.idea.whatever. Note that this is already the case for most of these strings nut the list has been updated. I suggest to check the complete list because it is a rather long one and there are many words with 3 and 4 characters.

From my understanding, you will receive (or already have received) an email if you use one of these domain names but the ICANN also have plenty of procedures to deal with this. Note that for INGOs, the ICANN suggests to consult an attorney or legal expert for guidance if you have questions.

Trademarks
What do they think about this and why...is this offered to specific organizations and not all trademarks? Well, this has been a question asked by many and I suggest anybody who wants to have that question answered to join the ICANN working groups to try to change this ;-)

Details
You can check the front page for reserved names here and the complete and up-to-date list of reserved names here: it is this that you want to read. For the "bla-bla" and a much longer explanation, it's here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Singular or Plural: have registrants chosen?

2017 has been an interesting year with a lot of new gTLDs launched and the opportunity for me to have a look at a complete year in terms of domain name registration volume.


One new gTLD report that I update on a monthly basis has gained a lot of traction, it is the one that concerns Singular VS Plural new gTLDs: which, of the two domain name extensions, receives more domain name registrations?

Sticking to one
Some extensions can't yet be compared as they have not really launched yet and stick to one domain name registered. It is the case for .COUPON - .CRUISE - .DEAL - .FAN (5 registrations) - .WATCHES and .MOTO (which does not count since it is a .BRAND).

What to think about these variations?
It is noticeable that many registrations volumes DON't make any sense between the singular and the plural version of an extension and there are reasons for this.
  1. Marketing/selling method: for .ACCOUNTANT and .ACCOUNTANTS, you can clearly see that there's something wrong strange: how can there be such a difference between the two same extensions when one has 94,000 more domain names sold at the end of the year while the other only has 2,500 domains on the market? Selling at ultra low prices is one method used by multiple registry Famous Four Media For .ACCOUNTANT but could this be the only reason?
  2. There is a price difference for .GAMES and .GAME (this is one example): the first one can be bought for less than $10 when the other will cost $160 for one year. That makes quite a difference when having to choose for the right extension.
  3. Some TLDs are losing traction: it is quite possible that some TLDs have been "boosted" after launch (come on...we all know that) but the problem is that it cost to boost a TLD and when names don't meet adoption, even when "given away", it is clear that boosting an extension has to end, and happens bullet 4 below.
  4. No renewal: a domain name which has not found its registrant for a renewal it is just dropped and that is also why some registration curves form the report go in the opposite direction.
Famous Four Media
The .LOAN - .ACCOUNTANT and .REVIEW new gTLDs belong to the same multiple registry Famous Four Media. All three have (very) surprising high registration volumes compared to other TLDs from the list.
This major new gTLD actor often offers promotions to its accredited registrars. In simple words, and added to the ultra low price of its domain names, it means that you should buy today...and for 10 years if you are concerned by their domain name extensions.

Inversion
Two TLDs caught my attention: the .PROPERTY and .PROPERTIES new gTLDs. If the plural version has an interesting curve, +3,000 registrations in one year, the singular version lost, from January to December 2017, seven thousand domain name registrations. The opposite is supposed to happen.

Clean TLDs
Good point for .MARKET and .MARKETS new gTLDs: the only two extensions from this list which gained registrations from a month to the other.

New methods
What if it became more interesting for a multiple registry to register a domain name for itself and generate more income from that parked domain instead of selling it? There's a method on the market and it appears that "many" multiple registry are testing it right now.

Conclusion
Can we say that registrants (those to register domain names) have made their choice between using the singular or the plural version of a similar domain name extension? Clearly not because 2017 results make no sense and unfortunately, marketing a domain name does not mean that you sell it. Registries are still testing the market with new methods and approaches. "Gain sharing" is one of them but shush, I did not say anything.

On a personal note, I do not understand how multiple registries can find enough time to market so many different domain name extensions: it takes time to market just one so how do you manage to find the time for...dozens? This might also explain why some extensions can't compete with their singular of plural version.

Check the full report here (the report is now available in French too).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A limit to 1,000 new gTLD applications?

When the first round of the ICANN new gTLD program, who knew that there would be so many applications submitted?

Nobody.

The funny thing is that - and let's be honest - nobody knew that it was possible to submit a new  gTLD application: nobody knew but the very 1,930 few applicants who submitted theirs (which was considered as "a lot" by ICANN insiders).

1,930 applications
When looking at the official numbers, 1,930 applications were submitted and 1,227 have completed the program (which means that they are active). They are extensions dedicated to selling domain names and .BRANDs dedicated to companies with a prior right to operate their personalized domain names.


First thought
My first thought us that 1,930 applications - worldwide - is nothing compared to what it could be in the next application round now many more people know that it is possible to submit an application.

So?
I came out to reading this recent publication from the ICANN with a strange title: "SAC100: SSAC Response to the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Working Group Request Regarding Root Scaling".

When reading this document, there is a strange line which I find very scary, it says: "whether the limitations on delegations per annum (1000 / year) could be revisited". I think that this was already written in the new gTLD Applicant guidebook somewhere and I am not digging more but my understanding of this is that the next new gTLD application window could be limited to 1,000 applications only.

And?
Just for France, there were 49 applications submitted and the French potential for the next round is of 200 applications. I imagine that it's probably going to be the same in other countries so the total number of applications submitted should be of more - MUCH MUCH MORE - than 1,930 applications submitted.

What if this number was limited to 1,000 applications?
Of course, I am confident that this is never not going to happen but would this happen, here is what I think that it means for potential applicants:

  1. Don't "play" and ensure that your new gTLD service provider knows what he does because sits are going to be very limited;
  2. Make sure that your technical backend registry won't first have to go through a technical validation process by the ICANN because this takes time and many already have "passed the test": working with a newcomer won't necessary put you in first 1,000 seats for your application to be validated by the ICANN.
  3. Don't mess up because it could take a year for you to submit your application again if you fail.
  4. Be worried: when you want to buy an special apartment in Hong-Kong, money is not the problem, the waiting list is.
Let's remain optimistic
The ICANN earns a lot of money with new gTLDs and as far as I know, the web works fine so why would this change?

;-)

The .BANK and .INSURANCE new gTLDs are NOT removing eligibility verification

A recent letter was sent from the ICANN, by the Registry Services and Engagement Director, to Craig Schwartz in charge of the .BANK and .INSURANCE new gTLDs.


Removal of Eligibility Verification
The letter is entitled "Removal of Eligibility Verification for gTLD: .bank and .insurance for RSEP ID: [#879030]" but it appears that the content is not exactly about this.

A misleading title
It appears that the title of the letter is misleading and in fact, the two registries are not removing eligibility verification. The registries of these two restrictive TLDs, are considering a change in how verification is performed.

Read the letter here.

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