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Stop me if you’ve heard this…

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2022, Domain Services

The collective noun for wildebeest is “an implausibility”.

In the incredibly unlikely event that you’re ever confronted by a large group of these majestic bovine quadrupeds, that’s how you should describe what you see.

An implausibility of wildebeest.

I tell you this not because it’s relevant to anything else that appears in this article, but because a series of unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances have kept me offline for the last few weeks, and you may find this round-up piece tells you lots of things you already know.

If that’s the case for you, I can only apologize, with the caveat that you probably didn’t know about the wildebeest thing, so at least this post has provided some value.

Let’s start with ICANN, shall we?

My ICANN announcements feed contains 20 unread articles this morning, and as far as I can tell from a cursory glance over the headlines, the Org has done almost nothing of consequence recently.

It’s mostly outreach-this, engagement-that, review-the-other. If official announcements were any guide, ICANN would look like an entity far more concerned with promoting and promulgating its own increasingly debatable legitimacy, rather than doing the stuff it was originally set up to do.

Like new gTLDs, for example…

While ICANN continues to fart around with its working groups and consultations and Dantean layers of bureaucracy, the blockchain/crypto/web3 crowd are continuing to bolster their efforts to eat the Org’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Most notably, blockchain-based alt-root naming services including Unstoppable have launched the Web3 Domain Alliance, which, even if it misses its goals, promises to make the next new gTLD round an even bigger litigation clusterfunge than the last.

The alliance intends to among other things “advocate for the policy position that NFT domain registry owner-operators create trademark rights in their web3 TLDs through first commercial use with market penetration.”

In other words, if some well-financed crypto bro creates .example on some obscure blockchain root and gets a little bit of traction, ICANN shouldn’t be allowed to create .example on the authoritative consensus root.

This has the potential to make Jarndyce and Jarndyce look like a parking ticket hearing and I take some comfort from the fact that I’ll most likely be long dead before the lawsuits from the next new gTLD round have all played out.

The Web3 Domain Alliance is promising imminent pledges of support from “web2” companies, and it will be interesting to see if any company in the conventional domain name industry is ready to break ranks with ICANN and sign up.

In actual gTLDs…

Another thing that will likely post-date my death is the launch of the last gTLD from the 2012 application round. Many still lie dormant, but they do still continue to trickle out of the gates.

While I’ve been offline, we’ve witnessed the general availability launch of Google’s .boo and .rsvp — the former criminally missing the increasingly lengthy and bewildering Halloween season and the latter probably a little late for the Christmas party season — while non-profit .kids went GA a couple of days ago.

In the world of ccTLDs…

GoDaddy is formally relaunching .tv, the rights to operate it won in a bidding process earlier this year after incumbent registry Verisign declined to compete.

It’s talking about a “a complete rebrand and marketing makeover”, with a new, very colorful, destination site at TurnOn.tv.

Many years ago, a senior Verisign exec described .tv to me as “better than .com”, and in a world where any shouty teenage pillock can essentially launch their own TV show for the price of an iPhone and broadband connection, that’s probably never been truer.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian ccTLD registry Hostmaster isn’t going to let the little matter of an ongoing Russian invasion interfere with its 30th birthday celebrations and the 12th annual UADOM conference.

It’s being held remotely for obvious reasons. It starts tomorrow, runs for two days, and more details can be found here and here.

In other conference news, NamesCon has also announced dates for its 2023 NamesCon Global conference. According to Domain Name Journal, it will return to Austin, Texas, from May 31 to June 3 next year.

DomainPulse, the conference serving the Germanophone region of Europe (albeit in English), has set its 2023 event for February 6 and 7 in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Scoop of the month…

By far the most interesting article I’ve read from the last month came from NameBio’s Michael Sumner, a reverse-exposé of the successful .xyz domain investor who goes by the name “Swetha”.

This area of the industry is not something I spend a lot of time tracking, but I’ll admit whenever I’ve read about this mononymed India-based domainer’s extensive, expensive .xyz sales, I’ve had a degree of skepticism.

It turns out that skepticism was shared by some fellow industry dinosaurs, so Sumner did the legwork, amazingly and ballsily obtaining Swetha’s Afternic login credentials (with her consent) and hand-verifying years of sales data.

He concluded that the sales she’s been reporting on Twitter are legit, and that she’s a pretty damn good domainer, but understandably could not fully disprove the hypothesis that some of her buyers are .xyz registry shills.

Elliot Silver later got a comment from the registry in which it denied any kind of collusion and implied skepticism was the result of sexism and/or racism, rather than the sketchiness sometimes displayed by anonymous Twitter accounts and the registry itself.

Earnings, M&A, IPOs…

  • The otherwise-consolidating industry is getting its first IPO in some time, with United-Internet pitching a public markets spin-off of its IONOS group, which includes brands such as Sedo and InternetX, to potential investors. DNW pulled out some of the more interesting facts from its presentation.
  • Industry consolidator CentralNic reported a strong Q3, though its growth is no longer dependent on its domain name business.
  • Tucows reported modest growth (pdf) for Q3, hindered by flat-to-down results in its domain name business.
  • GoDaddy, which no longer breaks out numbers for its domains business, reported a billion-dollar quarter.
  • Smaller, faster-growing registrar NameSilo reported turning a loss into a profit in the quarter.
  • In M&A, Namespace, owner of EuroDNS, announced it has acquired fellow German registrar Moving Internet.

And finally…

The DNS turned 35. So that’s nice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have 600 unread emails to deal with…

Registry launches Ukrainian domains for Russian-occupied region

Kevin Murphy, October 10, 2022, Domain Registries

A Ukrainian registry has started offering domains in a second-level Ukrainian transliteration of a Russia-occupied region.

Southern Ukrainian Network Information Center started offering residents of the Mykolaiv oblast domains at the third-level under mykolaiv.ua at the start of October, according to the registry’s web site.

Mykolaiv is the Ukrainian version of the original Cyrillic name. Previously, domains were only available under the Russian transliteration, .nikolaev.ua. SUNIC also offers the shorter .mk.ua domain.

Mykolaiv, in the battle-scarred south of the country, is also the name of the region’s capital city. While the city has resisted Russian capture, much of the region has been under the invading force’s control since early in the war.

SUNIC, which also offers odessa.ua (Russian) and odesa.ua (Ukrainian) names for the Odesa region and city, is encouraging .nikolaev.ua registrants to acquire their matching mykolaiv.ua names.

Adopting Ukrainian transliterations of Cyrillic place names has been seen as a symbolic act of defiance against Russian ambitions.

Ukrainians urged to “de-Russify” their domains

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2022, Domain Registries

There’s reportedly a push in Ukraine to get registrants of Russian-transliterated TLDs to switch to their matching Ukrainian versions.

Ukraine’s .ua offers domains in dozens of second-level domains, many of which correspond to the names of cities, such as kyiv.ua and .kharkiv.ua.

But while pretty much everyone in the Anglophone world and elsewhere has started using the Ukrainian transliterations as standard in the six months since Russia invaded, Ukrainian domain registrants have been slow to follow.

According to local registry Hostmaster, today there are 38,564 names registered in the Russian .kiev.ua, but only 1,965 in the Ukrainian .kyiv.ua.

Now local hosting company and registrar HOSTiQ is now reportedly offering customers the chance to swap their Russian domains for the Ukrainian equivalents for free.

.ua as a whole has over 580,000 registered names.

Ukraine won’t delete domains until war is over

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2022, Domain Registries

Hostmaster, the Ukrainian ccTLD registry, has indefinitely paused domain deletions due to the ongoing war with Russian.

The company said its domain redemption period, which usually lasts 30 days after a registration expires, will now run until the end of martial law, which was brought in by the government shortly after the invasion.

The registry had previously, and perhaps optimistically, extended the window to 60 days. But the war continues, and many registrants are still unable to renew their names.

Since the first extension, registrars have already recovered over 300 names that were not renewed in time, Hostmaster said.

The price to restore an expired .ua name is the same as a renewal, the registry said.

War fails to stop .ua domains selling

Kevin Murphy, March 29, 2022, Domain Registries

Ukraine’s ccTLD has maintained what appears to be a healthy level of new registrations, despite the Russian invasion.

The company today reported that between February 24 and March 25, it saw over 3,000 new .ua domain regs, over 2,000 of which were in .com.ua. The ccTLD offers names in a few dozen third-level spaces.

February 24 was the day Russia invaded, and the day Ukraine went into martial law.

“The com.ua domain is mostly used by commercial organizations. Therefore, the presence of registrations shows that Ukrainian business continues to operate under martial law,” Hostmaster wrote (via Google Translate).

.ua had a total of 534,162 domains under all 2LDs today, according to the registry’s web site.

While Hostmaster has not yet published its end-of-month stats for March, it appears that the new adds suggest an improvement on typical monthly performance, or at least business as usual.

The registry has come under denial-of-service attack dozens of times since the war started, but says it has so far continued to operate without interruption.

Ukraine registry hit by 57 attacks in a week

Kevin Murphy, March 24, 2022, Domain Registries

Ukrainian ccTLD registry Hostmaster today said its infrastructure was hit by 57 distributed denial of service attacks last week.

On its web site, which has continued to function during the now month-long Russian invasion, the company said it recorded the attacks between March 14 and 20, which a top strength of 10Gbps.

“All attacks were extinguished. The infrastructure of the .UA domain worked normally,” the company, usually based in Kyiv, said.

Hostmaster took the initiative in the first days of the war to move much of its infrastructure out-of-country, to protect .ua from physical damage, and to sign up to DDoS protection services.

As Russia advances on Kyiv, .ua moves out-of-country

Kevin Murphy, February 28, 2022, Domain Registries

Ukraine’s ccTLD registry has moved its servers out of the country to avoid disruption due to the Russian invasion.

Hostmaster said that servers responsible for “the operability of the .ua domain” have been moved to other European countries, seemingly with the assistance of other registry operators.

The company’s technical operations were based in Kyiv, which is currently under threat from advancing Russian troops.

Hostmaster announced the news on Saturday, the third day of the invasion.

A day earlier, it said it had signed up to Cloudflare’s DDoS protection service to protect its two largest zones — .com.ua and .kiev.ua — from distributed denial of service attacks.

It had suffered one such attack earlier this month, before the invasion, with traffic at some points exceeding 150Gbps.

The company says it runs more than 550,000 .ua domains in total. This morning, all .ua web sites I tested from the UK were resolving normally.