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Best. Domain. Name. Industry. Video. Ever.

Kevin Murphy, July 30, 2012, Gossip

Have you ever tried to explain what you do for a living to a friend and watched as their eyelids begin to droop?

That’s a rhetorical question. We all have. Domain names are boring.

That’s why Go Daddy’s advertising is (was?) primarily based on surgically enhanced mammary glands.

My tactic is not dissimilar. I usually explain my job with various stories from the ongoing .xxx saga. People are interested in the politics of porn.

But JPRS, the .jp registry, at some point decided to fully embrace the superficially dull nature of the domain name business in its marketing, to hilarious effect.

Check out this commercial, found via Michele Neylon.

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DotConnectAfrica responds to DI .africa rant

DotConnectAfrica has published a lengthy retort to DI’s recent post about the (probably) contested .africa gTLD, in which I accused DCA of being disconnected from reality.

You can read my original post here and the DCA response here.

According to DCA, DI’s post was “unprofessional, unwarranted, and sub judice to the ICANN evaluation process”, because it pointed out that Uniforum’s competing bid for .africa stands the best chance of being approved by ICANN.

Having read DCA’s response, I stand by what I wrote.

Geographic gTLDs are governed by special rules at ICANN. They need government support. Nobody disputes this.

In the case of .africa, which covers a lot of countries, support or non-objection from 60% of the relevant governments is required. I don’t think anyone is disputing this either.

Uniforum’s application has this March 2012 letter (pdf) from the African Union Commission, which provides the AUC’s explicit, unambiguous, exclusive support to Uniforum.

Uniforum also claims to have individual support from the required 60% of nations, though I have not seen documentary evidence of this.

DotConnectAfrica, on the other hand, has a August 2009 letter from AUC chair Jean Ping, which expresses support for the DCA application.

It is this 2009 letter that DCA is relying upon to pass the geographic support test in the ICANN evaluation process. In its latest blog post, DCA said, addressing DI:

If you state openly in your Blog that our 2009 endorsement that we got from the African Union Commission does not count, then you are obviously playing the same game that was started by our detractors who have been trying all along to deny and invalidate our hard-won endorsement in order to frustrate DCA’s chances of applying for DotAfrica. It is our sacred responsibility to make sure that our early-bird endorsement from the African Union Commission counts.

In response, all I can say is: “Good luck.”

The Uniforum letter of support, which is more recent by almost three years, states that it is “the only formal endorsement provided by the African Union and its member’s states with regard to dotAfrica.”

On the other hand, the DCA letter of support was “categorically” retracted by the African Union in this May 2011 communication.

The only possible interpretation of this, in my mind, is that Uniforum has African Union backing and that DCA does not.

Unless there’s some obscure nuance of African politics that I’ve failed to comprehend, I don’t think there’s a thing DCA can do to change that fact.

It sucks for DCA, but that’s the way it is.

As for DCA’s insinuations that DI’s position has somehow been bought, I’ll just say for the record that no opinion that has ever been expressed on DI has ever been paid for by a third party.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve probably turned down somewhere in the region of $20,000 from various parties who wanted me to give them favorable coverage in exchange for payment.

That’s just not how things work around here.

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New gTLD winners could be named June 2013

Kevin Murphy, July 30, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN has sketched out a tentative timetable for the evaluation of its new generic top-level domain applications that would see the first successful gTLDs appear over a year from now.

But the plan has little meat on its bones, and ICANN has admitted that it still doesn’t know exactly how the evaluation process is going to pan out.

In a new call for comments, ICANN confirmed that all 1,930 applications are going to be evaluated at the same time, and that the evaluators have already started work.

The winners and losers from Initial Evaluation, ICANN said, could be announced June or July 2013.

This would mean that the first new gTLDs would start going live on the internet “in late third quarter of 2013, six months later than originally expected”, ICANN said.

But which successful applications would start hitting the root first is still wide open to debate.

The idea that the applications would be processed in batches of 500 or thereabouts, is now pretty much dead. That’s been obvious since digital archery was killed off, but it’s now confirmed.

ICANN said it has a “tentative project plan” that “foresees the processing of applications in a single batch, and simultaneous release of results” about a year from now.

But with “batching” dead, we now have a “metering” problem.

Hypothetically, as many as 1,409 unique gTLD applications could emerge successfully from evaluation at the same time, in June or July next year.

That’s the theoretical ceiling; in reality the number will be substantially reduced by withdrawals, objections and contention.

But before any of them can go live the applicants need to negotiate and/or sign registry agreements with ICANN and undergo formal pre-delegation technical testing. That creates two bottlenecks at ICANN in its legal and IANA departments.

ICANN now wants to know how to “meter” successfully evaluated applications, to smooth out the roll-out so that no more than 1,000 new gTLDs are delegated in any given year.

An idea that emerged in Prague was to order applications according to how “clean” they were, as measured many clarifying questions the evaluators had to ask the applicants. But that idea has now been dismissed as “unworkable”, ICANN said.

ICANN’s board of directors had promised to make about three weeks after the Prague meeting – a deadline that passed over a week ago – but it’s now turning to the community for ideas.

Before August 19, it wants to know:

1. Should the metering or smoothing consider releasing evaluation results, and transitioning applications into the contract execution and pre-delegation testing phases, at different times?

a. How can applications be allocated to particular release times in a fair and equitable way?

b. Would this approach provide sufficient smoothing of the delegation rate?

c. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.

2. Should the metering or smoothing be accomplished by downstream metering of application processing (i.e., in the contract execution, pre-delegation testing or delegation phases)?

a. How can applications be allocated to a particular timing in contract execution, pre-delegation testing, or delegation in a fair and equitable way?

b. Provide reasoning for selecting this approach.

3. Include a statement describing the level of importance that the order of evaluation and delegation has for your application.

My hunch based on conversations in Prague is that the majority answer to question 1 will be “No” and that the majority answer to question 2 will be “Yes”, but that’s just a hunch at this point.

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Verisign reveals “dark” .com domains

Verisign has started publishing the daily count of .com and .net domain names that are registered but do not work.

On a new page on its site, the company is promising to break out how many domains are registered but do not currently show up in the zone files for its two main gTLDs.

These are sometimes referred to as “dark” domains.

As of yesterday, the number of registered and active .com domains stands at 103,960,994, and there are 145,980 more (about 0.14% of the total) that are registered but do not currently have DNS.

For .net, the numbers stand at 14,750,674 and 32,440 (0.22%).

Verisign CEO Jim Bidzos told analysts last night that the data is being released to “increase transparency” into the company’s performance.

Many tools available for tracking registration numbers in TLDs are skewed slightly by the fact that they rely on publicly available zone file data, which does not count dark domains.

Registry reports containing more accurate data are released monthly by ICANN, but they’re always three months old.

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ICANN to get $8 million more from new .com deal

Verisign will pay ICANN roughly $8 million more per year in fees under its new .com registry agreement, CEO Jim Bidzos told financial analysts last night.

Under the new deal, approved by ICANN last month, the company pays ICANN a $0.25 fee for every .com registration-year, renewal or transfer, instead of the lump sums it paid previously.

That’s going to work out to about $25 million in 2013, Bidzos said on Verisign’s second-quarter earnings call last night, compared to about $17 million under the old arrangement.

The new agreement continues to give the company the right to increase its price by 7% a year in most years, of course, so it’s not all bad news for Verisign investors.

The deal is currently under review by the US Department of Commerce and Bidzos said he expects it to be approved before November 30, when the current contract expires.

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