.aero Taking Flight

from the fly-away-dot-com dept

Well, the first industry specific top level domain name is getting ready to launch. Soon, if you want to visit any site having to do with air travel, expect to visit a site that ends in .aero. Airlines, airports, and others in the travel industry have already registered their domains and are getting ready to automatically transfer visitors to their old dot coms over to the new sites. Of course, this brings up the question (yet again) why we don’t have this for any TLD? It’s still never been clearly explained why we’re limited to a few specific top level domain options.

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Comments on “.aero Taking Flight”

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Steve Snyder says:

Why have TLD at all?

I still have yet to see a reasonable argument for having any top level domains at all. It’s an archaic system that really serves no purpose any more. Let people register the name of their company or website or whatever they want as however they want it–just drop off the TLD. And it’s not a matter of having DNS servers splitting up the TLDs–you could just have DNS1 do names ending in A-D, DNS2 do E-J or what have you. It would eliminate all the wasteful redundancy of having to register *.com, *.org, *.biz, etc.
steve snyder

Phibian (user link) says:

Re: Why have TLD at all?

Among the rhetoric and bickering, ICANN’s request for public comments on this issue contains a great deal of thoughtful analysis. If you are interested, I recommend reading it.

The problem with your system is one of limited real estate. Think about all of the business related names out there. Now think about all the rest of the world that isn’t business related, but might want a website. The trouble is much of this stuff overlaps (even trademarks overlap from country to country and sector to sector).

So if you just want to type something like Apple Corp, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of valid uses for that name.

In order to get a website about the topic/company that you are looking for, you need to know its address (it’s actually very similar to a telephone directory). People decided that the numbers (IP addresses) were too hard to remember (although really, some IP addresses are much easier to remember than the corresponding web addresses!). Later, a single IP address started being used for multiple websites (virtual hosting), since IP addresses are now also a scarce commodity, so perhaps the move to domain names was inevitable.

Incidentally, both approaches (current and one similar to what you propose) to domain names were used, in a sense. RealNames took a shot at allowing people to type something without .com etc. I’ve never used AOL, so I may be talking through my hat, but I believe the AOL keyword system also allows you to just type as you describe. However, I’ve always been suspicious of such systems – getting a “Keyword” is expensive and thus only open to the rich and/or elite. Once opened up to the masses, the real estate problem means that there would be literally millions of people with difficulty finding an easy to remember and relevant Keyword. At least with the current system, you can check the other tlds for your desired name.

Moving on to the comment about this being futile because most companies aggressively purchase their set of desired names (+ misspellings) in every tld. This is true, especially for companies owning a trademark. And ultimately, it is a function of trademark laws that say: “if you don’t defend your trademark, you’ll lose it”. Write your representative if this bothers you. Personally, I’d like to see an exception made for domain names – but I doubt it will ever happen.

Originally, each tld served a particular purpose. Eg .edu was only for educational purposes. With the dot-com rush, those tlds with no restrictions on use (eg .com, .org, .net) became “generic”, with .com becoming the most “valuable” because advertising drummed into people’s heads that a proper web address took the form “www.something.com”.

The idea behind introducing new tlds is to go back to the restrictions. .biz will only be for businesses. .aero will only be for airline related companies. The thinking is that these will become the most valuable for companies, and eventually the “other” domain names will be allowed to lapse (ya right). Also, tlds were to be introduced in volume (as in hundreds!), so only extremely rich companies would be able to purchase and maintain all of them. The idea would be that it would become impractical to register every tld.

Unfortunately, ICANN has chosen an extremely cautious route towards implementation (some would say in order to milk their cow to the last possible drop – just look at how much was charged just to apply for the right to administer one of the new tlds). There is a concern (many say unjustified) that adding new tlds will cause “instability”. I believe the real reason is pressure from some of the more powerful corporations who don’t want to have to buy hundreds of new domain names – and don’t want to risk not buying them.

Finally, the other common approach to finding a website online is to use a search engine. Some believe that this will eventually be inevitable. I personally hope not, because it would be a real pain to stay up in the top ten of x dominant search engine (current google). Imagine telling customers: “Type Techdirt into your search engine – oh sorry, this week you have to type Techdirt corporate intelligence.” Yikes. Also, I think that’s a road to paid search results – something I personally am not very keen on.

Jason Airlie (user link) says:

Re: Re: Why not any TLD?

The scarcity of good domains is completely artificial. Open it up to any TLD. Make sure no one can own a TLD and if you want to create a new one you have to pay setup costs to whichever registrar is going to run it.
Sure you will have some instability at first but eventually there will be a Darwinian process that starts to put the right sites under the correct TLDs.
More choice, no scarcity.

Phibian (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Stability

Actually, the fear that adding new tlds (and heck new roots) is not necessarily gospel fact…

Here’s an alternate point of view from a man whose technical skills I respect: Karl Auerback, current (although soon not to be) at-large representative for Canada and the US on the ICANN BOD: http://www.cavebear.com/icann-board/platform.htm#dnsp-stability.

Steve Snyder says:

Re: Re: Why have TLD at all?

The problem with your system is one of limited real estate. Think about all of the business related names out there. Now think about all the rest of the world that isn’t business related, but might want a website.

But the tld doesn’t really distinguish the name–because as we agree on, companies buy all of the general purpose ones anyway, having them doesn’t do anything to address the limited real estate. Make your domain name distinct just like your company name. Basically no top level domains is almost the same thing has having hundreds–only it even puts the big companies out of the picture from buying everything–plus they can’t get a domain on something another company owns. Apple would do AppleComputers or Apple-Computer or even Apple.Computers leaving room and plenty of distinction for AppleRecords/Apple-Records/Apple.Records. Let people create their own tld (which is actually just part of the name) if they really like the dot-whatever notation. In this way, the system more closely mimicks the trademark system (which is not without its own problems, but that’s a whole other story). Apple Computer couldn’t take the Apple.Records space because Apple Records already has a valid trademark claim in a separate industry. After re-reading this, I just realized there would be an issue over how to handle the generic use of the word–ie who gets just plain Apple. I don’t know about that. An index page with links to all the Apple-related websites might be cool and help web usability but that’s a pretty idealistic idea.

Oh and RealNames (and AOL for that matter) don’t get any consideration in my book because they are closed, proprietary, bolt-on services that don’t address the underlying system.

The problems with IP address scarcity really doesn’t have much to do with the domain names because–people have figured out enough ways to deal with it so far, and if (when) it becomes a big enough problem, a update to the IP protocol will remedy it–though not with out some pain and a political hornet’s nest to get everyone to agree–esp. since MS wants to include all kinds of “security features” that seem very trojan horse to me.

steve snyder

Phibian (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why have TLD at all?

I’d have to think about it a little more, but I think that it would be preferable to have the tlds (ie the dot notation) than to all be one big soup from a technical perspective.

The way it works now, you can have x.x.x.x.(to the infinity).tld. The browser uses the .tld to start the question/answer process that is dns. Without that structure, I would expect that the root servers for dns would become overloaded, because the root servers would then have to know everything, instead of just a fraction of everything (if that makes sense). The root servers currently don’t know which nameservers to query to find out the IP for phibian.com (for example) – It’s more like they know who to query for .com information. So if you could have literally anything – then the root servers would have to know all of the servers containing the location information – which wouldn’t scale (and would be a bad thing TM. Or so goes the theory.

So I think a good compromise is to have enough tlds so that it is not practical to register them all (and so that domain real-estate is no longer “artificially” inflated).

Steve Snyder says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why have TLD at all?

Root servers could be slit up by the last letter of the domain name. Really this makes for easier load balancing than the current tlds because it can be slit up easier and more consistently. Long term, maybe this might lag behind having hundreds of tlds–but for really packed last letters you could subdivide–so dns1 gets domains ending in *aa through *ma, dns2 gets *na through *za. It would scale very well because you could split up the load as much as you want and the root servers don’t have to know everything, they just follow relatively simple rules to direct the user to the server that know where to find the domain name.
nice gabbing with you by the way
steve snyder

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