Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A limit of the multistakeholder governance model

I read the ICANN approved board resolutions and a rationale for resolutions on an independent examination. I found that it tells a lot on how the ICANN is becoming an enormous organization which could be compared to some French administration where you sometimes wonder...what people do there.

ITEMS International was appointed as the independent examiner for the At-Large Review (a working group at the ICANN which works on plenty of important things to make Internet better).

Too focused on internal committees and procedures
I stopped on an Input from the ICANN community and I read:
"...many of the problems identified by the ITEMS report do exist. In particular, that: It is too focused on internal committees and procedures, and that it is too focused on enlarging the power and resources received by ALACin the ICANN ecosystem."
I try hard to follow-up with what some groups work on but I not only have a language barrier, I also DON'T HAVE THE NECESSARY TIME for this and with the volumes of documents to understand and the number of calls to participate to, it really takes time. I also sometimes feel that the very small groups working "on their thing"are making it impossible for any new comer to participate...many working group are most of the time the only one to understand what they are doing.

It also takes longer and longer to decide. Isn't it time to simplify procedures and suggest things like "deadlines"?

The ICANN is important for the Internet to keep working properly but aren't we starting to see the limit of the multistakeholder governance model?

The .GAY and .MUSIC new gTLDs
The .GAY and .MUSIC new gTLDs have been in "stand-by" for years: with all the comments, reports, procedures, discussions...can't someone "do something" for a resolution to be taken?

  • Consideration of Reconsideration Request 18-1 for DotMusic Limited: No resolution taken;
  • Consideration of Reconsideration Request 18-2 for dotgay LLC: No resolution taken.
Unless I am wrong, the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook from the first round of the ICANN new gTLD program says that problems of the first round should all be solved before the next round to start: isn't the multistakeholder governance model helping opponents of a future round here? In the case of .GAY ... there are a lot of opponents.

Monday, June 25, 2018

New gTLDs are political and religious assets

We often mention branding when referring to new gTLDs but since these also strongly refer to an identity (when comparing to ".com"), they can have a strong impact on the visibility of a specific community on Internet; no matter if some communities are sometimes not accepted, neither...liked, nor considered by their opponents.

What a new gTLD community really is
Whatever the type of application that was submitted to the ICANN (generic, community or geographic), some new gTLDs represent communities of a specific area or geographical zone but according to the definition one has of a community, such new gTLDs can become efficient communication tools for a community to expand and increase its visibility on Internet:
  • a city like the .PARIS new gTLD which is for the city of Paris (France) and allows the creation of domain names such as www.earthhour.paris.
  • a population like the .CORSICA new gTLD which is for the diaspora of Corsicans around the world. Note that Corsica is a French island which has initiated discussions with the French government to become independent.
  • a religious community like the .CATHOLIC or .MORMON new gTLDs.
  • a community like the .PERSIANGULF or .PARS

This application submitted to the ICANN is a generic one, neither a geographic nor a community one: it means that anyone may register a domain name ending in ".persiangulf". The application is on "on-hold" status at the ICANN, it means that there is a problem with it. The applications explains that: "The origins of the ethnic Persians can be traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples..." and there is a long explanation of who the Persians are. It also refers to "Ancient Iranian peoples" and the exact geographical zone represented by the Persian Gulf. As you can imagine, this can be a problem when you disagree on who a geographical zone belongs to in the history of the human kind. Of course, I am absolutely not referring to Palestine.

Some governments do not want the company to have applied to the .PERSIANGULF new gTLD to be the one to operate it, and the reason for this is probably politico-religious rather than economical or a trademark problem. The Persian Gulf community seems to be a political and religious problem to some governments and would this new domain name extension see the day, it would legitimate everything that the application says. It would also open the possibility for this community to multiply its visibility on Internet launching websites ending in ".persiangulf". That is where the real problem is for this application.

A problem with "Persians" maybe?
The Chairman and CEO of the CITRA (Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority in The State of Kuwait), who represents a country to have opposed the .PERSIANGULF new gTLD application, recently wrote to the ICANN explaining that, according to him, "this domain name extension is not in the public interest of the internet community". He gives several other reasons such as:
  1. the name reflects a disputed name for the Arabian Gulf;
  2. he was not consulted prior for the application to be submitted;
  3. he believes this extension does not represent the interest of the targeted audience.
I believe that the reasons given in this letter hide the fear that such a community could develop; it confirms that a new gTLD can be a very strong political or religious asset. The letter ends urging the ICANN to terminate this application.

The .PARS new gTLD
This application was delegated and already allows the registration of domain names ending in ".pars" (not ".paris"). Persians can register domain names ending in ".pars" anyway.

New gTLDs are one of the most powerful and efficient tool the Internet has produced in the history: it allows to publish a message right into any search engine, without even having to offer the end user to visit a website. Printed on any document, sends a factual information to a reader too.

Some registries (the one to operate a new gTLD) are restricting the access to their domain names to to allow their community only to register them; but history has shown that restricting "just does not work" since volumes are necessary too. Opening a domain name extension "to everyone" is the best way to install it on Internet since it makes it more simple to register a domain name. Restricting a new domain name extension is a strategic mistake in the case of a community who would want to develop unless in very specific areas such as banking and a few others.

Think I am wrong? Then I wonder why more and more Top-Level Domains, Country Code Top Level Domains included are getting rid of their restrictions ;-)

Just announced: the .קום Sunrise Period

The Trademark Clearinghouse just announced a new Sunrise Period. The new gTLD concerned is a Transliteration of "com" in Hebrew, an IDN.

The mission of this new gTLD
Extracted from the application: "the primary mission of the Hebrew transliteration of .com is to improve the user experience by offering a fully internationalized domain name (IDN) that includes a transliteration of .com. This gTLD is intended to serve users whose primary language is based in Hebrew script."

  • START: Monday, 30 July, 2018 - 16:00;
  • END: Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 - 16:00.
The application can be downloaded from this page.
The official announcement from the Trademark Clearinghouse is available here.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Coming fast: the .SPORT new gTLD

The .SPORT new gTLD is coming and all businesses related to sport will be offered a chance to register a domain name ending in .sport (instead of ".com").

This is an extract of the latest publication from the Global Association of International Sports Federations:
  • A select group of Ambassador websites will go live during Summer 2018, becoming among the first ever at .sport;
  • A consolidated launch period will run from September 4 to November 6, 2018;
  • General Availability will begin on January 8, 2019.
Premium pricing applies during the consolidated launch period. Standard pricing will apply starting with General Availability.

Read the full announcement at the GAISF.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Job: Director of Channel Development

Dominion Domains, a division of Dominion Enterprises (Norfolk, Virginia) is hiring a Director of Channel Development.

Dominion Domains is the Registry Operator for five Top Level Domains (TLDs) including .autos, .homes, .boats, .yachts and .motorcycles.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

When the Backend Registry is too expensive

What we call a "backend registry" is the mandatory technical platform to operate a domain name extension and all registries have one. It is the backend registry that allows accredited registrars to technically sell domain names for each extensions.

The question here is: what happens to a registry, who sells domain names to accredited registrars, when his backend registry solution provider is too expensive?

Creating your backend registry solution
In 2008, I remember going to a .BRAND meeting with Stephane Van Gelder and a technical guy told us: "we don't need a backend registry, we have enough resources to do it ourselves". Well...one can try to do it so for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program - and there are tools for this - but I would certainly not recommend it for three reasons:
  1. It requires serious skills to develop a backend registry platform;
  2. It requires to pass the ICANN tests;
  3. It's awfully expensive.
How to lower the expenses
There are less than 10 solution providers that I would work with worldwide, and the reason why I would not create my own backend registry solution is simple: the more your new gTLD project costs you, the more you will be tempted to increase the price of your domain names. Accredited Registrars, the ones Registries sell their domain names to, will have to take a margin so they will increase the price too, and here is what happens next:
  1. The final price at the Registrant level (the person who buys the domain name) will be higher than a ".com"; it may be be a bad sign sent to new consumers: "hey, why should I pay more for a domain name?". Remember that the average price known by consumers for a domain name is between $10 and $12;
  2. It will make your registry more difficult to develop in volume of domain names if your target is the general public. For domain names to meet with adoption: "use" is needed but "volume" is needed too to increase its visibility on Internet.
Think twice about creating your own backend registry solution: it will drastically increase the price of your new gTLD project.

Note that 500 registries have less than 10,000 domain names registered but is this what a new registry wants when creating a new domain name extension? I stopped counting at 200 domain names registered (June 2018) to exclude .BRAND new gTLDs from this approximate calculation.

Less than $2 per domain
Backend registry service providers offer different range of services but there is now stronger competition between them and offers should change for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program. Prices should change too and there are three parameters that I will focus on when selecting a backend registry provider:
  1. One price per domain name "only" should constitute the offer: a registry which wants to gain recognition cannot be blocked from lowering the price of his domain names because the annual financial commitment with his backend registry is too high: let's not forget that the more domain names a registry puts on the market, the more it benefits the backend registry.
  2. No leaving fee: the knowledge to operate a registry relies a lot on the backend registry solution provider but it has now become easier and, for example, one might be tempted to change to a Chinese solution provider to access the profitable Chinese market with a MIIT licence. Once you're blocked with an important leaving fee, it blocks you from spending this money to find a better solution: a Chinese backend registry solution provider will be very efficient combining complementary solutions for you: the backend registry solution + the MIIT licence for example.
  3. A "minimum annual commitment"? I read this fee at a service provider (...) With the number of registries to have launched at the same time in 2012, how can a niche TLD survive when it sells less than 1,000 domains a year (also because its retail price is already too high)? Added to a leaving fee, it makes it almost impossible to develop. For some, it means going "bankrupt". By the way: a backend registry asking for a minimum annual commitment does not care about the success of your project.
Note that such offers already exist: some providers have adapted to the market. It costs less than $1 for certain registries to create a domain name: "the lower the price is at the backend, the lower it will be for your clients".

If the backend registry is too expensive...it will impact the final price of your domain names and it is unlikely that new consumers will want to pay more than $12 to buy them. Registration volumes seem to confirm this: when new gTLD registration volumes are low, it is also because the price of domain names is often too high, the reason is that.

Monday, June 4, 2018

May 2018: new gTLD reports are up-to-date

  1. New gTLDs related to CATERING and FOOD
    (.food - .recipes - .rest - etc...);
  2. New gTLDs related to PHOTOGRAPHY
    (.photos - .movie - .pics - etc...);
  3. New gTLDs related to CITIES
    These are city names only (.koeln - .dubai - etc...);
  4. New gTLDs for COMPANIES
    Extensions companies should register their domain with;
  5. New gTLDs related to the LAW and LEGAL matters
    (.abogado - .law - .partners - etc...);
  6. New gTLDs related to FINANCE
    (.cash - .fund - .financial - etc...);
  7. New gTLDs related to a COLOR
    (.black - .blue - .red - etc...);
  8. New gTLDs related to SPORT
    (.baseball - .tennis - .dance - etc...);
  9. New gTLDs related to ALCOHOL
    (.vin - .wine - .beer - etc...);
  10. New gTLDs related to REAL ESTATE
    (.condos - .maison - .realty - etc...);
  11. Singular VS Plural versions of a new gTLD
    Extensions existing in their singular AND plural version;
  12. FRENCH new gTLD applications
    These are applications submitted by French companies;
  13. New gTLDs related to RELIGION
    (.islam - .halal - .mormon - etc...);
  14. New gTLDs related to CARS
    (.audi - .lamborghini - .cars - etc...);
  15. New gTLDs related to HEALTH
    (.care - .vision - .hospital - etc...);
  16. New gTLDs related to ADULTS
    (extensions related to pornography and more);
  17. NEW - Multiple Registries
    Group of Registries operating five (5) and more domain name extensions;
  18. NEW - New gTLDs related to MUSIC (.music - .guitars - .hiphop - .broadway - etc...)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Registered in 1998: Guillon.com is 20 years old

I registered guillon.com in 1998-06-02: that was 20 years ago.

It is my oldest domain name and at the time, I had no idea that I would use it for the rest of my life.

I now use the same ending in ".email"...for Email.

.BRAND new gTLD Reports are updated once a month: CLICK HERE !