You Don't Need Us To .tel You This Isn't A Good Idea

from the fun-with-TLDs dept

We’d previously discussed the .tel domain, at least in terms of its sheer ridiculousness. The premise of this latest TLD is that people and companies can use it to put their contact information online. Yes, you read that correctly — they expect people to pay up for new domains to put their phone number and email address and other contact info online. The promised twist is that a .tel domain “encodes this information into the DNS system.” Instead of getting a standard web site when people visit a .tel site, they’ll get one that shows contact info. Really groundbreaking stuff, isn’t it? The .tel folks also say that certain directory services will be able to access this info.

The mainstream press is doing its typical job of buying into the TLD registrar’s claims, without stopping to ask a couple of questions. First, why is something like this at all necessary? Second, is it really a good thing to inject people’s contact information into the DNS system? DNS records have long been a favorite haunt for spammers to hunt down email addresses. Now, encouraging people to put their email addresses, IM contacts, phone numbers and physical addresses online, where they can be easily harvested, really doesn’t seem like a great idea. Telnic, the company behind .tel, says it’s got ways for individuals to control who can see their information (they have a video about the controls), but the system is overly complex and convoluted. In a nutshell, if you want to protect your info, your friends and contacts have to send you “friend requests”, which you then need to approve if you want them to see your information. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the same thing you’ve done in all the free social-networking and contact-management sites you’ve already joined, and where your contact info already lives. Furthermore, if somebody is your friend, isn’t it more than likely they already have your contact info? Keeping all the contact info .tel aggregates openly available really doesn’t seem like a good idea for individuals; enacting the privacy controls reinforces the utter pointlessness of .tel over already available, free, services. But who cares when the registrar is collecting all those wonderful fees?

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Comments on “You Don't Need Us To .tel You This Isn't A Good Idea”

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Henri Asseily says:


(I work with Telnic)

#5: yes, that’s great. Synchronization of a facebook picture only, using OSX, and syncing your smartphone to address book. How amazingly useful.

.tel is about having the FREEDOM to do what you want with your contact info, without being subordinated to anyone. You own your domain, whose sole purpose is to give you the freedom to publish the contact info you want to the people you want, and have it work for the largest possible market.

Owning your domain (i.e. paying $15/yr or whatever the registrar will propose it at) gives you the following basket of benefits that absolutely can’t be found any other way:

– Independence of any service provider
– Forever (until you die) keep a single identifier.
– Guaranteed openness and APIs (DNS standard).

If you can find a way to do the above without TLDs, let me know. That’s the reason why Telnic chose to use a TLD.

Grae says:

Re: Re:

You’re assuming that the majority of people care about these things.

Most people want something that’s easy to use. Social networking and instant messaging platforms have pretty much set the bar for “easy to use”.

If your services are more complicated than that, you’ll miss the mainstream mark and land deep in “enthusiast” territory, and honestly I don’t know anyone who’s enthusiastic about having and sharing contact info on a platform that’s “Independent of any service provider, single identifier owned until death (or until you lapse a payment and someone else snaps up your domain name), and guaranteed openness and APIs (DNS standard).”

If I asked 20 people off the street if they cared about these things, at least 15 of them probably wouldn’t even know what an API or DNS were. Just because someone uses the internet, doesn’t mean they know or care how it works. You’re probably going to need a different marketing hook.

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