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“Yes” vote would be good for .scot

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2014, Domain Registries

The prospect of a healthy .scot gTLD would be improved if this week’s Scottish independence referendum produces a majority “Yes” vote.

People living in Scotland this Thursday get the opportunity to vote to split the country from the United Kingdom after over 300 years together.

While the No campaign seems to have been winning most of the opinion polls recently, the margin has been reportedly narrowing, and there are still large numbers of undecided voters.

Whichever way the vote goes, Dot Scot will take .scot to general availability next Tuesday.

The registry is backed by Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, the leading voice of the Yes campaign, and it seems inevitable that a Yes vote will bode much better for its business prospects.

A vote to split would no doubt create a new sense of national pride in the small majority of Yes voters, spurring registrations in that community.

But, more importantly, it will mean that .scot will become, I believe, Scotland’s de facto ccTLD.

If Scotland does vote for independence, it would not formally split from the UK until, it is planned, March 2016.

The new country would not qualify for a ccTLD until some time after that — it would first have to be recognized by the United Nations, the International Standards Organization, and then ICANN.

When it did finally get a ccTLD delegated and launched, probably in 2017, its two-character string would not have much semantic relevance to most of the world’s internet users.

The ISO 3166-2 list, which assigns two-character codes to countries and territories, only has three strings beginning with S — SP, SQ and SW — currently unaccounted for.

.sc belongs to the Seychelles, for example, while Sao Tome and Principe has .st and Sudan has .sd.

One alternative put forward is .ab, which could be used to represent Alba, the Scots Gaelic name for Scotland.

But it’s hardly a commonly known name outside Scotland (even in the rest of the UK) and there are only 57,000 native Scots Gaelic speakers in a Scottish population of 5.3 million.

It seems pretty clear that if .scot goes up against .ab, or any other two-character string, .scot will win in the marketplace, in much the same way as .com eclipses .us today.

That would be the case even if .scot didn’t get the three-year head start that starts next week.

Yeehaw! Bumper crop of new gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2014, Domain Registries

There’s a definite wild west flavor to today’s crop of new gTLD launches, in a week which sees no fewer than 16 strings hit general availability.

Kicking off the week, today Minds + Machines brings its first wholly-owned TLDs to market.

Following the successful launch of .london, for which M+M acts as the back-end, last week, today we see the launch of the less exciting .cooking, .country, .fishing, .horse, .rodeo, and .vodka.

Afilias’ rural-themed .organic also goes to GA today.

As does .vegas, an oddity in the geo-gTLD space as it’s a city pretty much synonymous with one vertical market, gambling. Or three vertical markets, if you include booze and prostitution.

.vegas names do not require a local presence, so I’m expecting to see gambling businesses the world over attempt to capitalize on the Vegas brand regardless of their location.

A second batch of launches is due on Wednesday September 17.

Sticking with the wild west theme, RightSide’s .republican is due to go first-come, first-served.

With a somewhat more eastern flavor, Radix Registry’s first new gTLDs — .website, .press and .host — all hit GA on the same day.

Donuts’ .loans, .life, .guide and .church all enter their standard-pricing phases, while .place and .direct enter their premium-priced Early Access Period on Wednesday too.

First company abandons .com for new dot-brand gTLD

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2014, Domain Registries

Wow. Somebody actually did it.

CITIC, China’s biggest conglomerate, has started redirecting its established .com domain to its new dot-brand gTLD, .citic.

Specifically, it’s redirecting citic.com (go on, click it!) to limited.citic.

Almost everyone reading this post will agree that as a memorable, attractive domain it’s a step backwards.

But CITIC does seem to be the first dot-brand to make the leap from .com to dot-brand with both feet, and it seems to have done so with little to no penalty to its Google ranking (at least as far as searches for its company name go).

A Google search for “citic” here returns limited.citic as the third result, behind Wikipedia and one of CITIC’s sister companies.

The original citic.com doesn’t appear in the top results.

The company also has ranking for group.citic, one of the five second-level names active in the .citic zone file right now.

It’s not the first dot-brand to launch a web site at its new gTLD — destination.monash and annualreport.axa spring to mind — but it does seem to be the first to throw away its .com completely.

CITIC does not appear to have activated its matching Chinese-script gTLD, .中信, in the same way, however. Only nic.中信 appears in search results for sites under that TLD.

Thanks to Jothan Frakes of NamesCon for the tip.

Victims of first confirmed new gTLD collision respond: “Fuck Google”

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2014, Domain Registries

A number of companies have experienced errors on their networks due to collisions with a newly introduced gTLD.

The initial outcry from victims can be characterized as a storm of profanity, which it could be argued is a good thing for security but not great for ICANN’s reputation.

The collisions, which I believe are the first to be publicly and widely reported, are due to Google’s new gTLD .prod, which was delegated September 1.

Google intends to use the TLD as a shorthand for “product”, but it seems some companies use it internally to mean “production”, meaning production servers rather than testing or development servers.

Issues started being reported on online fora on September 3, with Google unfairly bearing the brunt of the initial blame. Here are a few of the earliest examples from Twitter:

A day later, Reddit user “cunttard”, under a post entitled “Fuck Google”, wrote:

Google recently activated prod. TLD.

They also decided to wildcard DNS all entries to 127.0.53.53 to resolve name collisions for internal organisations. All because they wanted .prod for product? Why not fucking request .product?

The implications have been fucking horrendous. I am in the process of helping a mate unfuck his organisations DNS, which heavily relied on resolver search $FQDN to map xyz.prod to xyz.prod.$FQDN. Note this wasn’t even used as an internal TLD. Now they’re all resolving short names to 127.0.53.53. Lesson learnt; always use FQDN everywhere.
I’m just fucking sick of ICANN / Google continuing to fuck DNS.

LinuxQuestions user “fantasygoat” started a thread entitled “New tLD .prod is messing with my configs”, in which he wrote:

I used to be able to refer to just the subdomain in a DNS lookup, like “www1.prod” and it would know I meant “www1.prod.example.com”, my local domain. I’ve been using prod.example.com for decades as the production subdomain for various things.

Now it resolves to 127.0.53.53, which I believe is ICANN’s hack DNS answer for tLDs.

So, I have a bunch of config files without the domain name and it’s messing stuff up. Does anyone have a workaround so I can have my DNS respond to .prod requests as a subdomain of my domain?

I’ve found a couple of other examples on various mailing lists and web forums with systems administrators experiencing similar issues over the last week.

This, it seems to me, shows that ICANN’s hack for mitigating the risks of name collisions, developed by JAS Advisors, is working as expected.

In each reported case of a .prod collision I’ve been able to find, the admin either had already worked out that he needed to use a fully-qualified domain name (eg www.prod.example.com instead of www.prod) or was swiftly advised to do so by those responding to his post.

Most seem to have spotted that instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, Google is returning the IP address 127.0.53.53, which was chosen because it’s an internal IP and because 53 is the TCP/IP port number for DNS.

Diverting to 127.0.53.53 is designed to catch the eye, alerting admins to the need to correctly configure their networks.

It certainly seems to be doing that, but it’s not winning ICANN or new gTLD registries any new friends.

Nobody has yet reported death or injury due to a collision.

Update: There has been one previously reported collision, concerning .guru.

Community panel hands .radio to EBU because nobody objected

Kevin Murphy, September 11, 2014, Domain Registries

The European Broadcasting Union is likely to win the right to the .radio new gTLD, beating three portfolio applicants, after a favorable Community Priority Evaluation.

The main reason the EBU managed to score a passing 14 out of 16 points in the CPE is that there was no significant objection to the EBU’s bid on the public record.

The EBU managed to win, under ICANN’s complex scoring system, despite the fact that the CPE panel ruled that no one entity, not even the EBU, can claim to represent the “radio” community.

The win means that Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media, which all applied for open .radio gTLDs, will likely have to withdraw their bids and leave .radio in the hands of the EBU’s more restrictive policies.

The EBU’s bid envisages a post-registration enforcement regime, in which registrants’ web sites and Whois records are vetted to ensure they have a community “nexus” and are using their domains in the spirit of the community.

Registrants would have to provide a statement of their usage intent at the point of registration.

Domain investors are explicitly not welcome in the TLD, judging by the EBU’s application.

The EBU, as mentioned, scored 14 out of 16 points in the CPE. The threshold to pass is 14.

As I’ve been saying for years, passing a CPE should be very difficult because applicants can immediately lose two points if there’s any decent opposition to their applications.

The other three applicants for .radio could have easily beaten back the EBU had they managed to effectively organize just a single significant member of the radio community against the EBU’s bid.

However, they failed to do so.

The EBU scored the maximum of two points under the “Opposition” part of the CPE, because, in the words of the panel:

To receive the maximum score for Opposition, the application must not have received any opposition of relevance. To receive a partial score for Opposition, the application must have received opposition from, at most, one group of non-negligible size.

The application received letters of opposition, which were determined not to be relevant, as they were (1) from individuals or groups of negligible size, or (2) were not from communities either explicitly mentioned in the application nor from those with an implicit association to such communities.

Donuts, Afilias and BRS Media all submitted comments in opposition to the EBU application. As competing applicants, these submissions were (probably correctly) disregarded by the panel.

There were a small number of other objecting comments on the record that the CPE panel (again probably correctly) chose to disregard as coming from organizations of negligible size.

The was one comment, in Polish, from a Polish law firm. Another comment came from a something dodgy-looking calling itself the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition.

A third comment came from the Webcaster Alliance, a group that made a bit of a name for itself a decade ago but which today has a one-page web site that doesn’t even list its members (assuming it has any).

Attempts by BRS Media, which already runs .am and .fm, to orchestrate a campaign of opposition seem to have failed miserably.

In short, the panel’s decision that there was no relevant, on-the-record opposition seems to be on pretty safe ground.

What’s slightly disturbing about the CPE is that the panel seems to have decided that the EBU does not actually represent the radio community as described in its application.

It dropped one point on the “Community Establishment” criteria, and another on the “Nexus between Proposed String and Community” criteria.

Specifically, it lost a point because, as the panel stated:

Based on information provided in the application materials and the Panel’s research, there is no such entity that organizes the community defined in the application. Therefore, as there is no entity that is mainly dedicated to the community as defined in the .RADIO application, as the Panel has determined, there cannot be documented evidence of community activities.

In other words, there may be a “radio community”, but nobody, not even the EBU, is responsible for organizing it.

It also lost a point because while the string “radio” does “identify” the community, it does not “match” it.

The panel explained:

To receive the maximum score for Nexus, the applied-for string must “match” the name of the community or be a well-known short-form or abbreviation of the community name. To receive a partial score for Nexus, the applied-for string must “identify” the community. “Identify” means that the applied-for string should closely describe the community or the community members, without over-reaching substantially beyond the community.

Failing to get full marks on community and nexus would usually, in my view, indicate that an application would not succeed in its CPE bid.

However, the lack of any outcry from significant members of the community (either because there was no such opposition or the three rival applicants failed to muster it) seems set to allow .radio to be managed by the applicant with the most restrictive policies.