ICANN and Verisign now planning to raise .com TLD prices
February 10, 2020 4:08 PM   Subscribe

On the heels of the controversial sale of the .org TLD by ICANN last year, which may still be on pause after much pushback, ICANN is now also working with Versign to introduce annual price hikes for the .com TLD up to 7% a year over the next few years. While the additional funding will also support DNS stability and security, the plan doesn't seem to have much support. ICANN is still accepting public comments through February 14 for consideration.
posted by p3t3 (38 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe this will push people towards other TLDs, such as the industry specific ones. The perception that you must have the .com for your name to be viable is really stifling creativity and expressiveness.

I've been pushing other lawyers to use lastname.law for years now. Instead of lastnamelaw.com. It has the added feature (for both the trade and the consumer) that you need a law license to register one (whereas .legal exists for unlicensed service providers).

But even beyond licensed professions where the TLD can provide an easy legitimacy check, descriptive domains like .media or .travel or .game deserve more consideration. (It's weird that .music is still a proposed TLD...that one seems like an obvious win...)

The .com fixation is dated thinking that boils down to not expecting people to be able to recognize something as a URL without it. It's no longer needed anymore than is "http://".

(Although .me and .world and all of those other vague millennial gee-whiz-cyberspace TLDs are still dumb.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:20 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Maybe this will push people towards other TLDs

Wow, I'd love to pay (looks at the .law prices) $124 a year instead of about $15 for a vanity TLD.

In all seriousness, maybe people should move from .com to other TLDs, but I'm unconvinced that this price hike is well-justified or that ICANN is operating in good faith these days. Their .org debacle has pretty much eaten through any earned trust on my part.

The $20m over five years "including to help combat DNS security threats" (but what percentage of that is unstated) is what percent of what Verisign stands to rake in by upping the fees over the next decade? According to the linked post from Domainpulse, the Internet Commerce Association "claims this will be 'an additional windfall of $344,630,000 per year' in October 2024" for Verisign.

Sign me up as opposed. Pushing people to industry specific TLDs is not even close to being justification for this noise.
posted by jzb at 4:37 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


I'm also highly skeptical in the wake of the .org sale mess. That said, I was most disturbed by how little coverage I found while digging for FPP links. The idea of small closed-door decisions having such outsized impact on shape of the entire web does not sit well.
posted by p3t3 at 4:55 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


Wow, I'd love to pay (looks at the .law prices) $124 a year instead of about $15 for a vanity TLD.

I think the ones that are in some way regulated are all more expensive, which is bullshit — but a brand of bullshit I've become accustomed to. You should see what it costs to "claim" your profile on the big legal directory sites (which are all now largely owned by one company, but marketed and charged for separately).

A .media domain is $10.48 on Namecheap, for instance, and might make a company name viable when the .com is taken....

I just think it would be nice to get away from .com ubiquity generally speaking.

I mean it would be better just not to bilk people for the arrangement of electrons, but that's the silver lining I see in .com becoming more expensive, considering the namespace is so picked over anyway.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:07 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I think the ones that are in some way regulated are all more expensive, which is bullshit

The vanity TLDs cost 100 grand just to get your foot in the door at ICANN. Anyone who didn't think these would be milked for any rent they could was deluding themselves.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:13 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised big ISPs haven't taken it upon themselves to demand royalties for DNS. Imagine having your ISP DNS switched to a "competitive DNS provider" that didn't feature some vanity TLDs if Verisign et al decide not to pay up.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:16 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Oh lord, don't give them any ideas.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:19 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


welp, goodbye, dabbingwhilecrying.com
posted by gc at 5:40 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I was able to buy wrongfullyacquitted.com for $12 the other day.
posted by bz at 5:52 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


whereas .legal exists for unlicensed service providers

So it should be .illegal then?

I'll show myself out.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:17 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I've seen a lot of "restaurantname.business.site" lately (e.g. bobspizza.business.site, janescrepes.business.site), which strikes me as almost satirically generic.
posted by jedicus at 6:33 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


It probably is too cheap to register a domain, so people do it just to have the option of using that domain in the future. Maybe charge more for each year a domain sits claimed without being used, to encourage folks to release them back into the wild.

I don't think I know enough technical details to weigh in beyond that, and that's probably exactly what ICANN is banking on.
posted by subdee at 6:54 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


"restaurantname.business.site" lately (e.g. bobspizza.business.site, janescrepes.business.site)
I figured that was probably of the same vein as Grubhub creating 30k SEO-juiced webpages to take over the actual restaurants sites.
posted by CrystalDave at 7:07 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


If ICANN hike domain name yearly registration costs specifically for squatted domains, I think nearly everyone would be pleased, but I have no idea how they'd administer that.
posted by Merus at 7:50 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I was part of the roll out of .museum. This was part of ICANNs first wave of money grubbing and they were feeling about for whether having these gated domains could make even more money. I mean, besides just making up new TLDs so the likes of CocaCola would buy CocaCola.wtf just to keep someone else from using their mark.

Bottom line, I have a hard time believing this is anything but a move to wring more money out of their monopoly.

The funny thing is, hardly anyone types in domain names as an initial way to get anywhere any more. I've seen people type in entire domain names into Google Search during our usability tests.
posted by advicepig at 7:58 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


joke's on them, I don't have the .com for my domain because a squatter grabbed it before I thought maybe I should pick up more than just the .org version.

I hope the squatter enjoys paying the increased rate because a) no way in hell I'm paying what the squatter would ask for it and b) literally no one else ever will either. I find the situation entertaining because any human who looked at the domain name and my use of it would realize points a and b, but instead they're on the hook for $12 a year indefinitely because their algorithm told them to do it.

Looking forward to the "here's how ICANN is going to fuck up .net" post later this year though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:49 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Renters of domain names complaining about price increases is the dual of employers complaining about employee wage increases.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:34 PM on February 10


The last couple weeks I've gotten emails from [random name] telling me that my [domain name]+s is available for a big fee, and they're holding it ransom.
Ok. Cool. Y'all do whatever you need to do. Also, fuck you.
posted by rp at 10:23 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


The business.site things are Google-hosted micro sites.

Anyone else miss New.net?

This is all very second-hand info, but someone I worked with had gone on to work for one of the registrars of one of those top-level country domains rebranded as a generic domain (maybe .ws?). They had access to the global Whois directory (or something like that) but they weren’t supposed to use it as a marketing list. (Narrator: They did.)

There’s probably a taxonomy of the internet to be written that can tell me how closely domain name squatters are related to crypto coin enthusiasts.
posted by jimw at 10:42 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Who is actually making money off this? Who backs ICANN?
posted by geoff. at 11:58 PM on February 10


A .media domain is $10.48 on Namecheap, for instance, and might make a company name viable when the .com is taken....

Thing is, if you have a .ws or .site or .horse or whatever domain, then well, a lot of internet users aren't that sharp. You'll probably end up needing to buy whatever.com as well, even if it's just redirecting to your .horse site. Otherwise someone else will, and will hijack a lot of your traffic.
posted by Dysk at 2:21 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


This was part of ICANNs first wave of money grubbing and they were feeling about for whether having these gated domains could make even more money. I mean, besides just making up new TLDs so the likes of CocaCola would buy CocaCola.wtf just to keep someone else from using their mark.
The UK's Nominet did this a couple of years ago. We were all quite happy being either .co.uk or .org.uk until they realised that there was a whole set of domains they could sell directly under .uk. They graciously allowed the holders of .co.uk domains to register the corresponding .uk for a couple of years but it recently became a free-for-all.

Obviously, most companies are now paying for two domains (e.g. cocacola.co.uk and cocacola.uk), but there was no public demand for the change and the .uk domains are just redirects or inactive. The beneficiaries are Nominet (and their members, who are companies selling domains) who now get a whole load more revenue.
posted by winterhill at 2:22 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Why not retreat to "domainname.co.us" if "domainname.com" is taken? It works for every country outside the USA, so maybe we should climb off our high horse and fall in line.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:05 AM on February 11


hey if everyone just navigates by search engine these days, we can drop the whole name thing and use ipv6 right? wait, where are you going?
posted by kokaku at 6:34 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Renters of domain names complaining about price increases is the dual of employers complaining about employee wage increases.

What do you mean? I have a domain still to my name, it's a single html page with some text and an image. I don't see how me not wanting to pay higher and higher fees for that makes me at all like some evil employer. I think I may be misunderstanding your sentiment.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:16 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Who is actually making money off this? Who backs ICANN?

You can read up on Wikipedia about the long history but basically it's a non-profit. Your domain name rents fund it.

GoblinHoney, if you're renting an apartment or some such you'll expect the landlord to take care of repairs. Plumbers, grounds-keepers, etc. If it's a larger rental agency well they have office workers just like anywhere else. Your rent pays all of those people's salaries. If your rent doesn't go up then theirs can't go up either.

The rough trajectory is that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was started up around 1988 to manage DNS, before that... we had to just download a giant hosts file with every name and things were a bit haphazard. IANA kept doing that until around 1998 when the internet had become too large for them to manage by their lonesome and ...
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was started as a non-profit to actually build out infrastructure for the growing like a weed number of domain names.

Whether they're grafting too much off the top and wasting money or not... I don't know. They are the root of what makes DNS work around the world and that takes people and equipment and co-location and power and AC without which there wouldn't be DNS.

DIsclosure: I worked around and about (same university) both IANA and ICANN. I was almost drafted to manage one of the root DNS servers, walked past it all the time. But I don't know much about the past 6 years or so, they may be totally evil now...
posted by zengargoyle at 10:24 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


IANA kept doing that until around 1998 when the internet had become too large for them to manage by their lonesome

Jon Postel passed away in 1998. He basically was IANA.

So much of the underlying internet infrastructure only works because of a collection of 30+ year old informal agreements between grey ponytailed sysadmins. All the folks who "practice DevOps" have most or all of that infrastructure abstracted away -- only some of them even know that it exists, and they'd be flabbergasted at the way that things like peering arrangements are negotiated and implemented in practice.

Those grey ponytails have been dying or retiring at an unsustainable clip, and the people who are coming in to replace them don't place value on the handshake deals and mutual assistance that makes the actual Internet run. Instead, they place value on money and on marketing.

This is the logical conclusion to that. If the internet has always been there for you, and "servers" have more or less always meant extremely profitable cloud instances at Amazon/Rackspace/Google/Microsoft, then why would you look at the worlds most popular TLD as anything other than a place where more profit could easily be extracted.

I've heard the distinction described as "Treating the Internet like a place vs. like a tool/thing". Among the early folks who used/ran the Internet, there was at least something of a shared culture, a shared community that you visited/interacted with by going online. To someone who first used the internet on an always-on smartphone in 2009, it was an invisible series of tubes that allowed you to buy things and maybe to connect to a shared community like SecondLife or Fortnite or etc.

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's got a certain ring to it.
posted by toxic at 11:25 AM on February 11 [13 favorites]


Ruling the Root came out almost 20 years ago. Every board member and executive at ICANN should have been cashiered back then and the organization reconstituted.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:46 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I was able to buy wrongfullyacquitted.com for $12 the other day.

impeachedpresidentdonaldtrump.com set me back a staggering $14.90.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:14 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


kirkaracha, yours was the inspiration for my buying wrongfullyacquitted.
posted by bz at 9:57 AM on February 12


toxic, I can't favorite you enough.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:57 PM on February 12


The funny thing is, hardly anyone types in domain names as an initial way to get anywhere any more. I've seen people type in entire domain names into Google Search during our usability tests.

All of those search results end up going back to DNS and ICANN to make them actually work. Somebody somewhere has to make those 'names' turn into IP addresses in a reliable way world wide and manage your name/IP changing over time. Search engines can't just store the IP of a result or a scrape, that IP might change over time. The unique thing is the 'name' and somebody somewhere has to make sure somehow that the 'name' is unique and keep track of the IP address to make sure that the 'name' goes to the right place while allowing that 'name' to move from different places to different places and still have it just work.

Everybody uses a search engine to find things is a bad argument.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:10 PM on February 12


I still usually set my DNS to 4.2.2.2 rather than whatever garbage redirection my ISP is attempting.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:44 PM on February 12


Ugh, looks like they're doing the redirection thing now, too. You can turn it off to get a plain 'not found,' but that appears to rely on a browser cookie being set.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:06 PM on February 12


I might add, I only noticed this after defeating Chrome's automatic redirection of anything typed into the address bar that doesn't resolve to Google results.

For those doing scripted wget or curl or whatever, I would note that both L3 and my ISP (Frontier) seem to be using the same white-labeled redirected search provider, down to the CSS and the opt-out popup.

So I guess you could implement a check for any string common to those pages. Or force the cookie that returns the simple lookup failure (though I guess that might turn into a cat and mouse game).

I have no idea if that's more expensive in cycles or seconds than just running nslookup first.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:05 PM on February 12


All the folks who "practice DevOps" have most or all of that infrastructure abstracted away -- only some of them even know that it exists, and they'd be flabbergasted at the way that things like peering arrangements are negotiated and implemented in practice.
I’m not sure why you brought DevOps into the picture but this take is really unsupported my experience — don’t forget, DevOps runs on open source and most people in that community are very aware of the unpaid work which makes work better for all of us.

What we’re seeing now is a product of the business people seeing a path to greater rents and a “get off my lawn!” rant is just distracting from that.
posted by adamsc at 6:25 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Everybody uses a search engine to find things is a bad argument.

I think it was an argument that you don't have to register the (more expensive) .com domains, but can instead register companyname.whatever and have people find it by Googling companyname, since they generally aren't defaulting to typing companyname.com into the address bar anyway.
posted by Dysk at 2:14 AM on February 13


Everybody uses a search engine to find things is a bad argument.

Except that unless you disable it, everyone who uses Chrome gets Google search results for anything that doesn't resolve and isn't prefaced with http://, which obscures the difference between the address bar and the search box. (A new, blank Chrome tab shows the big G as the favicon.)

That doesn't make it a good argument, in terms of DNS, but even technical people do this unless you take pains not to.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:59 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


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