Should ICANN Dump The Idea Of Generic Top Level Domains?

from the yes-or-no dept

For years, we’ve scolded ICANN for its bizarre policies when it came to new top level domains (TLD) (the things like .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info etc.). For the most part, the whole process seemed like a big money grab, where each new TLD was being introduced not because of any need, but because it would generate extra cash. Take, for example, the creation of the .jobs domain. It’s designed to be the place where people can go to find job openings for a company. As if it wasn’t easy enough to either go to the site directly and look for the “jobs” link, or to do a quick Google search (though, we must admit to an adolescent snicker, when someone recently pointed out that RIM had amazingly signed up for the unfortunately named

On the whole, though, there seemed to be no legitimate reason for dribbling out TLDs in this manner. If the world needed more TLDs, why not open the process up entirely, and let people use whatever TLD made the most sense. Last year, it looked like it was making a step in that direction, by announcing plans to offer such generic TLDs, but at the astronomical price of somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000. So, once again, it was all about the money grab, rather than anything useful.

However, with overwhelming opposition to the idea of super high priced generic TLDs, ICANN has delayed the entire project and some are wondering if ICANN should drop the idea entirely. Personally, it still seems like the real plan should be not to do away with generic TLDs entirely, but to just open up the system, so that any TLD can be used, but that you can register for one at the regular domain price, rather than one that’s many orders of magnitude higher.

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Comments on “Should ICANN Dump The Idea Of Generic Top Level Domains?”

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diesel mcfadden says:

It’s also hard to get away from the money issue when the whole issue of organic traffic, google ranking and mental real estate have a direct correlation to money.

There are already distortions all over the place.’s recent sale price could easily be justified by the guaranteed #1 ranking it will have in google (saving hundreds of thousands per year in AdWords). .com as default also leads to hundreds of thousands of visits for “free” per month as the word candy typed into the address bar leads to candy.COM

I also don’t see how you would administer a free-for-all set of TLDs.
It seems to me that the whole point of a high cost for “registering” a TLD is to make sure an organization is serious about maintaining it. If the idea is to let anyone claim running of a TLD at a similar cost level to registering a domain, that doesn’t seem to change the underlying ICANN concept, only to invite chaos.

If the idea is to set up ONE super TLD owner to administer all untaken gTLDs,
and let anyone register for anything in that pool, while that would address one facet of the administration problem, it would overall be worse as among other problems, complete randomness in registrations results in completely meaningless TLDs (say what you will about the others, .org, .edu, and some of the country TLDs still have meaning) leading us straight back to .com again.

Bruce says:

TLD - have a place...

But these have a place and could be used wisely to help filter unwanted traffic from a company i.e. if all Porn sites had to confirm to the .porn TLD it would be easy to filter web searching from within a system…same as .travel .cars .homes etc etc a total overhaul could provide a nice, neat manageable environment! ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: TLD - have a place...

“But these have a place and could be used wisely to help filter unwanted traffic from a company i.e. if all Porn sites had to confirm to the .porn TLD it would be easy to filter web searching from within a system”

Yup, that would be good, then “christian owned” ISPs and bandwidth providers could refuse to provide transit for certain types of data because they don’t like it. Imagine what would happen with a .abortion, .naacp, .islam and so many others. Putting everything in neat little boxes is the first step towards blocking the traffic for moral reasons.

Can you imaging all torrent sites on a .torrent domain? you don’t think the RIAA and such would have them all blocked out in seconds?

Kevin says:

Re: TLD - have a place...

A little too easy, if you ask me. As it stands now, it’s relatively difficult to accurately filter porn, and I suspect that’s part of the reason that most ISPs don’t bother. But if it were all moved to a .porn TLD, you’d probably see a lot of ISPs getting a lot of pressure to flat out block access to that TLD “to protect the children”.

But more to the point, if you own a porn site, what incentive do you have to move from your .com or .ru or .job site to .porn? If you already have a thriving business at a well-known address, moving to a relatively unknown TLD isn’t going to help you. It’s more likely to cost you customers. And who is going to make all of those companies from companies all over the world move their sites? Nobody has the authority to do that.

I used to think like you do, and I’m sure lots of people (politicians especially) still do think that way. But while your solution looks simple on the surface, when you look into the reality of it it’s just plainly unworkable.

JustMeAgainMargaret says:

Re: Re: TLD - have a place...

Although I rather like the idea of subject-matter TLD’s, in the case of pr0n I agree with you, it’s doomed to fail. Purveyors of smut have no regard for anything other than how to turn a dollar. So, even if they had their very own TLD, you would still be playing “whack-a-pr0n” on the .com, .ru. .edu, .org, .foo, .jeezus or wherever they think they can earn a buck, whether by honest effort or by guile & deceit.

If we stood a chance of stopping bad-players at the source, then you’d think we would see less spam for mycoxafloppin (generic viagra)…


Anonymous Coward says:

ICANN is creating a system that is sure to create public confusion. Is rim.buyonline the real reseller for rim, or is rim.sales the right one? Perhaps is it or rim.discounts or rim.mer?

It is a stupid idea that can end up costing companies tens of thousands of dollars a year having to buy their brandnames out of each of these registry to avoid squatters and other problems.

Christopher Smith (user link) says:

“Personally, it still seems like the real plan should be not to do away with generic TLDs entirely, but to just open up the system, so that any TLD can be used, but that you can register for one at the regular domain price, rather than one that’s many orders of magnitude higher.”

Beyond the obvious trolling and phishing problems with allowing arbitrary TLDs, I rather doubt that the Internet’s DNS infrastructure would handle it well. com. is already unbelievably loaded, and it’s fairly surprising that it stays up at all. Adding more entries to the DNS root seems like a bad idea from a technical standpoint.

Steve (user link) says:

If the back end could be changed to allow a free for all TLD system I think it could be a good idea. It would eliminate the concept of a company buying multiple TLDs. The most common reason they do it is so nobody else can use their name in a domain. Now it can’t be stopped so why try.

On the other hand, I don’t think it would really be the best thing to do. A central regestry that makes TLD decisions is useful. I don’t think the current concept is broken, just those implementing it. One thing that has bothered me for some time, is that in the begingin nobody thought that individuals would have their own domain. But many now do. They are not companies, organizations, educational institutions, or anything that is resonably reflected by a normal TLD. Some kind of personal TLD should be created. One that doesn’t charge a premium. .NAME and .ME are stupid. They are attempts to do that in a cute way, and are ultimately pretty meaningless terms. Everything has a name, is a name, it’s called a domain NAME isn’t it. something like .PER for person would be much better.

I guess my point is, i think the rules of the current system are fine, but those working within them are dumb.

qhartman (profile) says:

No friggin way

Speaking as a network engineer, I have to say that this is a bad idea on a number of levels. I basically “me too” all the negative points raised above. I want to bring extra attention to the points about authenticity though. Something like this would multiply the problem with scams online a thousand fold. Arbitrary TLDs would introduce unimaginable problems with little or no actual benefit.

Fred McTaker (profile) says:

TLD TLA never needed.

I understand filename extensions, as they provide a sort of visible metadata about the file, before proper filesystem metadata was properly implemented or standardized. TLD extensions NEVER made any sense. If the whole point of URI’s is to get rid of the necessity of remembering long IP numbers, as in a phone book for the Internet, why add confusing jargon-based or TLA extensions to label things that should just be called by their proper names? Why “.net” instead of “-network”? Given the distributed nature of DNS servers, why is more than one TLD per country even necessary?

Also, I don’t think any one company should be able to own a URL you can’t even trademark. Simple domains like “car” should just bounce back an alphabetical listing of all the domains containing the sub-string “car”. This would make the transition easier for some older people, who are more used to yellow pages than google. I understand the technical reasons behind omitting whitespace from URL standards, but they also should have made a rule that typed whitespace in an address bar gets consistently converted to another spacer character, like ‘-‘ or ‘_’. “%20” doesn’t make any sense, visually or otherwise.

Scott says:

TLDs as we know them should be eliminated.

Unless there is an authority in place to enforce policy with financial penalties, any attempts to use TLDs to categorize sites is bound to fail. Look no further than .NET and its original purpose.

There is still a problem though, that absent some strategy, we have a finite number of ‘useful’ domain names in a much larger world. Category-based TLDs don’t solve this problem. We need a system that accommodates Fred’s Pub in Atlanta and Fred’s Pub in Chicago. A trivial example but the concept is the same.

Maybe ICANN can solve some real-world problems instead of trying to load their wallets.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Get Rid Of TLD Groupings

As someone with a bit of experience looking after DNS registries, I fail to see the usefulness of dividing up domains into grouping at different levels. Look at the gTLDs (.com, .org etc): over 90% of registrations are in .com, so what exactly is the division achieving? It is not conveying any useful information about the meaning of the domain, nor is it fulfilling any technical kind of load-balancing purpose.

Within country-specific TLDs where the country registries impose their own second-level groupings, we see the same sorts of disparities. Thus over 90% of .nz registrations were in Many large countries (e.g. .de, .fr, .ru, .ca) don’t even bother with these second-level groupings, they let anyone register what they like at the second level. Are they causing themselves any problems as a result of this? Doesn’t seem like it.

I don’t see what the technical difference is between letting someone register “name.” as opposed to “”. What is that extra suffix achieving? Nothing, it seems. So why not get rid of it?

Jesse says:

.com spoiled the marketplace

ICANN should have encouraged domain buyers to use multiple TLDs a long time ago. Instead, everyone in the US wants a .com domain and basically nothing else. Every time I ask my web friends’ advice about my new domain they tell me I’d be better off making a longer domain that ends in a .com. They’re right. Boo ICANN.

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