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The new massive number two new gTLD has me paralyzed with confusion

Kevin Murphy, January 8, 2015, 15:51:33 (UTC), Domain Registries

The Chinese-script gTLD .网址 powered to the number two spot in the new gTLD rankings by zone file size this week, but it’s doing some things very strangely.

.网址 is Chinese for “.site”, “.url” or “.webaddress”.

The registry is Hu Yi Global, ostensibly a Hong Kong-based registrar but, judging by IANA’s records, actually part of its Beijing-based back-end Knet.

I’m going to come out and admit it: even after a few hours research I still don’t know a heck of a lot about these guys. The language barrier has got me, and the data is just weird.

These are the things I can tell you:

  • .网址 has 352,727 domains in its zone file today, up by about a quarter of a million names since the start of the week.
  • The names all seem to be using knet.cn name servers
  • I don’t think any of them resolve on the web. I tried loads and couldn’t find so much as a parking page. Google is only aware of about eight resolving .网址 pages.
  • They all seem to have been registered via the same Chinese registrar, which goes by the name of ZDNS (also providing DNS for the TLD itself).
  • They all seem to be registered with “nameinfo@knet.com” in the email address field for the registrant, admin and technical contacts in Whois, even when the registrants are different.
  • That’s even true for dozens of famous trademarks I checked — whether it’s the Bank of China or Alexander McQueen, they’re all using nameinfo@knet.cn as their email address.
  • I’ve been unable to find a Whois record with a completed Registrant Organization field.
  • Nobody seems to be selling these things. ZDNS (officially Internet Domain Name System Beijing Engineering Research Center) is apparently the only registrar to sell any so far and its web site doesn’t say a damn thing about .网址. The registry’s official nic.网址 site doesn’t even have any information about how to buy one either.
  • ZDNS hasn’t sold a single domain in any other gTLD.
  • News reports in China, linked to from the registry’s web site, boast about how .网址 is the biggest IDN TLD out there.

So what’s going on here? Are we looking at a Chinese .xyz? A bunch of registry-reserved names? A seriously borked Whois?

Don’t expect any answers from DI today on this one. I’ve been staring at Chinese characters for hours and my brain is addled.

I give up. You tell me.

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Comments (11)

  1. JacksonM says:

    Are we looking at a Chinese .xyz?

    YES.

  2. KC says:

    Hi Kevin, shoot me an email if you need a helping hand in researching in Chinese.

  3. JSL says:

    Hi Kevin,

    They serve different whois records if you query directly through their interface http://www.nic.xn--ses554g

    I think they may cloak user information for certain/all port 43 queries. For example, using ICANN Whois tool systematically returns nameinfo@knet.cn as you mentioned.

    I can also confirm w/ idndata.com that a large amount of brands are squatted in this tld in idn format as well.

    Here is one I’ve just checked : 万事达.网址 (Mastercard.site) registered to 华凤勤(info@qinnet.cn/)

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Thanks. The Whois on the nic. site didn’t work for me. I used ICANN’s and DomainTools.

      Surely serving up false data over 53 can’t be legit under the RA?

  4. Pam Little says:

    Hu Yi is no longer the registry operator as effective 3 December 2014, the registry agreement was assigned to KNET. See https://www.icann.org/resources/agreement/xn--ses554g-2014-01-16-en.

  5. Kevin,

    Nicely observed. Ultimately the truth will prevail.

    Colin

  6. Steve Mills says:

    I believe these have been bundled with Chinese Keyword domains, anyone owning a Keyword in China gets the equivelant domain in .网址

  7. Having gone round in circles several times the only thing I can state with confidence at the moment is:

    http://knet.cn and http://北龙中网.网址 resolve to the same IP address and website

  8. tony says:

    This tld actually applied by KNET. All the domains are registered for free. KNET is registrar and registry.

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