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ICANN going ahead with digital archery

Kevin Murphy, June 7, 2012, 11:08:17 (UTC), Domain Policy

Despite recent calls for it to slam on the brakes, ICANN is going ahead with its plans for the controversial “digital archery” method of batching new gTLD applications.

This morning it published a batch of information about the process, which — let’s face it — is likely to decide whether some new gTLDs live or die.

ICANN has put some outstanding issues to bed. Here are the six most interesting facts about today’s developments:

First and foremost, while applicants in contention sets will find themselves promoted to the same batch as the highest-scoring applicant in that set, no applicant will be demoted out of a batch as a result.

The way ICANN had been talking about batching recently, it looked rather like the first batch would be stuffed with contention sets at the expense of dot-brand and genuine community applicants.

That appears to be no longer the case. The first batch will still be stuffed with contention sets, but with no apparent disadvantage to solo applicants.

It does mean that the first batch is likely to be substantially larger than 500 applications, however.

Second, there will be no proportionality in how geographical regions are assigned to batches. ICANN said the system will use instead the originally devised round-robin method.

This basically means that if there are any fewer than 100 applications from any of ICANN’s five regions, they’ll all be in the first batch. This is pretty good news for African applicants.

Third, archery will indeed run through the wobbly TLD Application System and its reportedly sluggish Citrix remote terminal interface, adding a layer of uncertainty and latency.

This means that if you’re using a third-party archery service, you’re going to have to give it your TAS password, giving that third-party access to the confidential portions of your applications. NDAs may be in order.

Fourth, you’ll get as many practice runs as you want before firing your official arrow. There had been some talk about limiting it to just a handful of tries, but that’s no longer the case.

Fifth, ICANN won’t tell you what your score was until July 11, when the order of the batching is revealed. I can see this policy causing sleepless nights all over the world.

Sixth, there’s no CAPTCHA or Turing test, so automated archery solutions will presumably have one less obstacle to overcome.

It’s still a ropey solution, and I don’t expect calls for it to be abandoned to let up, but for now at least it looks like ICANN is proceeding according to its schedule.

Digital archery starts tomorrow. Here’s a how-to video from ICANN.

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Comments (13)

  1. Ash says:

    With regard to the geographic round-robin priority, does anyone know whether it relates to the region of the applicant entity of the IP address of where they “shoot their dart” from? As far as I can see ICANN don’t seem to make this clear in their literature.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      My assumption is that it is the region the applicant is based in. ICANN has never indicated any differently, and I would be very surprised if it was based on IP address.

      • Ash says:

        Thanks Kevin. In that case, what is the point? I thought the issue was about not disadvantaging applicants who ‘shoot’ from a server which is far away from ICANN’s server.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          Per ICANN: “Geographic diversity is important in bringing more competition and choice into the domain name market.”

  2. M says:

    “Geographic diversity is important in bringing more competition and choice into the domain name market.”

    And if i understand this process correctly it is possible .lol will be in the root before Chinese transliterations of existing gTLD’s which will certainly not help the already burning issues of lack of competition and lack of choice in various ‘Geographically diverse’ areas.

  3. Tom G says:

    I thought it was notable that TLDH is located in the caribbean – all its applications would likely be in the first batch by default if that is where their applications officially originate.

    unless I’m missing something.

  4. Do Bibbley says:

    Having played around with the TAS batching system I would say:

    A) No need for an NDA for any third party provider as none of the application details are visible apart from the TLD being applied for…But the big reveal is just around the corner so nothing to get hung up about imho.

    B) CAPTCHA codes – despite the demo video, they are there on the test version. Imagine that they will be there on the actual version…where does that leave automated solutions?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Thanks Bibbley.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      If the actual system is like the test version, the automated solution can ask for human support to solve the captcha a few minutes before the actual arrow is shot.

      Or you can simply get a free porn page online and require those who want to see the “content” to solve a captcha, which happens to be the one TAS is presenting you…

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