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New musical named after (and uses) new gTLD domain

Kevin Murphy, July 3, 2015, Domain Sales

How’s this for a high-profile registrant?

A new stage musical, co-written by Blur front-man Damon Albarn, has opened in the UK this week, and it’s named after a new gTLD domain name.

wonder.land is a take on Alice in Wonderland that reportedly “tells the story of a 21st Century teen who immerses herself in a psychedelic online game.”

The production, which is running previews in Manchester until July 12 before transferring to the National Theatre in London this November, is using the domain wonder.land.

Reviews have been mixed.

.land is a Donuts gTLD with about 13,000 domains in its zone.

Chrome users who search for wonder.land in their browser address bar will be taken to the domain rather than a search results page.

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ICANN dragged into Gamergate as Whois reform cast as misogynist threat

Kevin Murphy, July 2, 2015, Domain Policy

What do ICANN’s current Whois privacy reform proposals have to do with the “Gamergate” controversy?

Quite a lot, according to the latest group to slam the proposals as an enabler for “doxing… harassment… swatting… stalking… rape and death threats.”

The Online Abuse Prevention Initiative was formed in March by female software developers in the wake of a sexism slash online abuse scandal that continues to divide the video game community.

Led by Randi Harper, OAPI’s first public move was to today write to ICANN to complain about the GNSO Privacy & Proxy Services Accreditation Issues (PPSAI) Working Group Initial Report.

The report, as previously reported, contains a minority opinion that would ban transactional e-commerce sites from using Whois privacy services.

OAPI said today that this posed a risk of “doxing” — the practice of publishing the home address and other personal information about someone with the aim to encourage harassment — and “swatting”, where people call up America’s notoriously trigger-happy cops to report violent crimes at their intended victim’s home address.

Harper, who was one of the targets of the Gamergate movement (Google her for examples of the vitriol) claims to have been a victim of both. The OAPI letter says she “was swatted based on information obtained from the WHOIS record for her domain.”

The letter, which is signed by groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and dozens of noted digital rights voices, says:

We strongly oppose the Working Group’s proposal, which will physically endanger many domain owners and disproportionately impact those who come from marginalized communities. People perceived to be women, nonwhite, or LGBTQ are often targeted for harassment, and such harassment inflicts significant harm

Even the most limited definition of a “website handling online financial transactions for commercial purpose” will encompass a wide population that could be severely harmed by doxing, such as:

  • women indie game developers who sell products through their own online stores
  • freelance journalists and authors who market their work online
  • small business owners who run stores or businesses from their homes
  • activists who take donations to fund their work, especially those living under totalitarian regimes
  • people who share personal stories online to crowdfund medical procedures

To make things worse, the proposed definition of what constitutes “commercial purpose” could be expanded to include other types of activity such as running ads or posting affiliate links.

The letter does not directly refer to Gamergate, but some of the signatories are its most prominent victims and the allusions are clearly there.

Gamergate is described somewhere in its 9,000-word Wikipedia article as “part of a long-running culture war against efforts to diversify the traditionally male video gaming community, particularly targeting outspoken women.”

At its benign end, it was a movement for stronger ethics in video game journalism. At its malignant end, it involved quite a lot of male gamers sending abuse and violent threats to female players and developers.

The PPSAI report is open for comment until July 7. It has so far attracted over 10,000 emails, most of them rustled up by registrar letter-writing campaigns here and here.

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Free .cloud domains on offer to pioneer brands

Aruba, the recently anointed .cloud gTLD registry, plans to give away up to 100 free .cloud domains to trademark owners as part of its launch program.

The Italian company also today revealed a rough launch schedule that will see sunrise begin mid-way through the fourth quarter.

Participating in Aruba’s “Pioneer” program will be free for trademark owners with a decent marketing plan, a brand-match domain, and a web site that can go live at the end of September.

Up to 100 domains can be allocated for promotional purposes before sunrise begins, per ICANN rules.

Those looking to grab a generic dictionary word in .cloud “may require further negotiation and incur additional costs”, the registry web site says.

Wannabe pioneers have until August 21 to submit their ideas.

Aruba, which beat Minds + Machines, Symantec, Amazon, Google, CloudNames and Donuts to .cloud at private auction last November, plans to go to general availability early next year.

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New gTLD sales miss ICANN estimates by a mile

New gTLD registration volumes failed to live up to ICANN’s expectations by a long, long way in its fiscal 2015.

When ICANN’s FY15 ended on Tuesday, new gTLDs had fewer than 6 million domains in their collective zone files.

That’s just 18% of ICANN’s original early 2014 estimate of 33 million domains and just 39% of its revised March 2015 estimate of 15 million names.

It’s going to be harder to compare future new gTLD performance to ICANN’s projections, as the program enters its second year of live activity.

The organization’s recently published draft fiscal 2016 budget does not have a “total registrations” number to compare to the 15/33 million projection in last year’s budget.

It does, however, predict 12.5 million billable registrar transactions in FY16, which began yesterday.

Billable registrar transactions include renewals and transfers, however, so ICANN is not saying that there will be 12.5 million extant new gTLD registrations this time next year.

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M+M sells net.work for $100,000

Minds + Machines has made its first six-figure new gTLD domain sale.

The domain net.work was sold in a private deal to business consultancy BearingPoint for $100,000, the company said today.

It added that a “significant annual renewal fee” applies.

It’s one of 430 premium domains to have been sold in .work, M+M said, since it went to general availability in February.

The gTLD had just shy of 55,000 domains in its zone file yesterday, recent growth partly attributable to a deep discounting program.

M+M’s registrar currently sells .work domains for less than $2.

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