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Plural gTLDs to be banned over confusion concerns

Kevin Murphy, July 10, 2018, 19:34:15 (UTC), Domain Policy

Singular and plural versions of the same word are likely to be banned as coexisting gTLDs in future.

The ICANN community working group looking at rules for subsequent application rounds reckons having both versions of the same word online — something that is happening with more than 30 gTLDs currently — leads to “consumer confusion” and should not be permitted.

It’s one of the surprisingly few firm recommendations in the Initial Report on the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process, which says:

If there is an application for the singular version of a word and an application for a plural version of the same word in the same language during the same application window, these applications would be placed in a contention set, because they are confusingly similar. An application for a single/plural variation of an existing TLD would not be permitted.

It adds that the mere addition of an S should not be disqualifying; .news would not be considered the plural of .new, for example.

Interestingly, the recommendation is based on advice received from existing registries, many of which fought for singular/plural coexistence during the 2012 round and already operate many such string pairs.

According to my database, these are the 15 plural/singular English string pairs (there are more if you include other languages) currently live in the DNS root:

.careers/.career
.photo/.photos
.work/.works
.cruise/.cruises
.review/.reviews
.accountant/.accountants
.loan/.loans
.auto/.autos
.deal/.deals
.gift/.gifts
.fan/.fans
.market/.markets
.car/.cars
.coupon/.coupons
.game/.games

Some of them are being managed by the same registries; others by competitors.

It’s tempting to wonder whether the newfound consensus that these pairs are confusing represents an attempt by 2012-round registries to slam the door behind them, if for no other reason than to avoid chancers trying to extort money from them by applying for plural or singular versions of other strings they currently manage.

But at an ICANN policy level, the plurals issue was indeed a gaping hole in the 2012 round.

All such clashes were resolved by String Confusion Objections, but only if one of the applicants chose to file such an objection.

These rulings mostly came down on the side of coexistence, but sometimes did not — .kid, .pet and .web were among those placed in direct contention with plural equivalents following aberrant SCO decisions.

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Comments (5)

  1. This was insane from teh get-go…. What rocket scientist did they need to hire to figure this one out?

  2. For information, we have been updating Singular VS Plural new gTLD registration volumes since 2016. Our monthly report is available here: https://www.jovenet.consulting/new-gtld-reports/singular-and-plural

  3. Brian says:

    This was always a real head scratcher for me when I first got into brand investing. I never really got into any of the new G’s (a few for personal use/wishful gamble), so never put too much time into it. Until a couple of recent sales where I (personally) liked the singular extension better – and would have expected the singular to sell for more – I was wrong – which is way I dont invest in them hahaha. I like to think I’m informed in the domain space, so I could only imagine how confusing it could be for the end users.

  4. Jacob says:

    I had always assumed ICANN’s reasoning not to send the singular/plural sets to contention was to mitigate their own legal risk. Shame this got missed in the first round. .auto/.autos /.car/.cars. Not confusing at all (LOL).

  5. Stephan says:

    I foresee the entire gtld program to come crashing down within the year. Nothing to like about them. Stick with .com – all else is fool’s gold.

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