Domain Names At Large

While everybody raving about the latest ICANN initiative to create their own little wild wild west (or Klondike) selling root zone domain names not that many people realize the impact it will do on the surfing as we know it.

So far, here’s what ICANN plans to do:

  • allow registering of any primary domain zone (.istudioweb, .microsoft, .yahoo)
  • allow registering primary domain zones in national character sets (like cyrillic, chinese, etc.)
  • allow trademark holders to have a priority in registering a zone
  • set the price in 6-numbers area, or auctioning zones, so that cybersquatters will not be able to afford it

Now let’s take a closer look at this bright picture. As of right now everyone agrees that .com is the only widely recognizable zone for commercial domains. If I look at mybusiness.com, mybusiness.info and info.mybusiness domains – I’m sure to point my browser to the first one – because it is recognizable and this is what I am used to. That’s just before everything else comes to mind. Now – back to bulletpoints.

Primary Domain Zone

Aside from the state of mass confusion, there will be a bunch of zones that won’t really give you much. I’m sure Google will have its .Google zone to make me visit http://mail.google, http://news.google and http://images.google, but would be any different then GMail, Google News or Google Image Search? Not really. So what’s the benefit for me as a visitor? Zero.

If we’re talking about an unknown (at least to me) brand, then it gets worse. If I see a link to auto.zone – will I get to a car dealership or an automated malware distributor? Again, for me as a consumer the new domain zones create a big fat layer of confusion, while adding little (if that) to convenience of browsing.

National Character Sets In Domain Names

This is very good idea for scammers of all kinds. After all – what could be better then luring an unsuspecting american capitalist to the web site that spells “we-steal-credit-cards-from-americans.russia” in cyrillic alphabet, full with 0-day browser exploits and viruses. More words – more fun! And scammer’s friends will be aware not to visit this site. Convenient, eh? Additional benefit – there is no way such a victim can warn others, since there are no such letters on his keyboard. And ICANN gets paid for this!

Trademark Holders To Have Priority In Registering Zones

The latest grudge over trademarks that I recall was iPhone and Apple. I’m sure by the time this gets available, there will be much more trademark holders then there are domain zones. By the way, who are trademark holders of words “dating”, “pharma” and “sex”? That would be a rich crowd…

Pricing In 6-Digit Area Or Auctioning

This is the biggest pile of nonsense I’ve seen since the “American’s weren’t on the Moon” thing. Imagine a small business that wants to own .widgets. By setting the price anywhere higher then $10,000 ICANN makes damn sure that this small business is out of the game. Who will buy it then? Cybersquatters, ofcourse, who already selling domains for thousands of dollars and therefore command sums much larger then any small business can afford paying for domain name.

Now, let’s say I have enough money to register that .widgets zone. Then I would offer second-level names to anyone in widgets business. For reasonable amount of $100/year you can register JonDoe.widgets and be a proud owner of your domain. After two years when your web site is widely recognized by search engines, I decide that I don’t want to sell names on .widgets anymore and you will have to find yourself another domain name. The .widgets zone is my property, so I do as I wish. Then I set up a placeholder on JonDoe.widgets with a lot of ads and affiliate links and voila – you just brought me thousands of dollars for free. No, wrong – you paid me $200 (plus applicable text) so that I could make thousands off of your web site. Nice, eh?

To wrap up the rant – imagine if yet another ICANN’s initiative was to write IPv6 addresses in Roman numbers, instead of hexadecimal notation. More words – more fun, right?

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