ICANN wants to know whether it should formally ban “dotless” domain names in the gTLDs for which it oversees policy.
While the Applicant Guidebook essentially prohibits registries using their new gTLDs without dots, there’s not yet a hard ban in the template Registry Agreement.
But that could change following a new ICANN public comment period.
A dotless domain might appear in a browser address bar as
http://tld or, with more modern browsers, more likely just
tld. A small number of ccTLDs already have this functionality.
To make it work, TLDs need to place an A record (or AAAA record for IPv6) in the root zone. This is known as an apex A record, which the Applicant Guidebook says ICANN will not permit.
The result, IANA root zone manager Kim Davies told us in July 2011, is a “default prohibition on dotless domains”.
Davies could not rule out apex A/AAAA records entirely, however. Specific requests for such functionality might be entertained, but would likely trigger an Extended Evaluation.
ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee is of the opinion that dotless gTLDs should not be permitted on various security grounds, including the fact that lots of software out there currently assumes a domain without a dot is a trusted host on the local network.
You can read the SSAC report here.
Dotless domains would also mess up browsers such as Chrome, which have integrated address/search bars; when you type “loreal” do you intend to search for the brand or visit its TLD’s web site?
But a far more intuitive, non-technical argument against dotless domains, as CentralNic’s Joe Alagna noted in his blog over the weekend, is that they do not pass the cocktail party test.
It’s hard enough trying to communicate the address “domainincite.com” across a noisy cocktail party as it is, but at least the dot immediately informs the listener that it’s a domain name.
Without dots, are we even talking about domain names any more?
The first phase of the new comment period runs until September 23. We understand that, depending on responses, a new ban on dotless domains could be introduced to the standard new gTLD registry agreement and possibly even added to legacy registry agreements in future.