ICANN's Report on new Top Level Domains
July 21, 2000 6:50 AM   Subscribe

ICANN's Report on new Top Level Domains came out a few days ago, and I saw a list in a paper of some of the new proposed TLDs. These include: .shop, .travel, .news, .sex or .xxx, .web, .arts, .store. Two things worthy of discussion - what's the difference between .shop .store and .web (and where are other CONTENT based divisions such as .gay, .fan, .info, .zine, .kids) and secondly, why are these supposedly GLOBAL domain names all in full uncompressed English?
posted by barbelith (17 comments total)
What ever happened to the TLDs they proposed back in 1997? They seemed to be a much better (and more limited) choice. As I remember it, the original additions were: .web (for web based companies), .bis (for e-Biz sites), .per (for you and me), .art (for artists), .xxx (for sex) and .lit (for writing). These new addresses are too long and like Barbelith said, very English centric.

Personally I think that TLDs should be only three letters, countries should be two letters and ICANN should stick to that rule.
posted by DragonBoy at 8:32 AM on July 21, 2000

They're English because English is the international language.
posted by aaron at 8:51 AM on July 21, 2000

I'm sure that most will disagree, but I'd like to see the country of origin included in the domain name. So: abc.com, a store in the US, would become: abc.us.store (or perhaps abc.store.us).

In addition to this, I think that the Internet as a whole should adopt similar requirements to what Japan has implemented. To receive a ".co.jp" domain, the registrant MUST provide valid contact information IN Japan. That way, no country could take away from the namespace of another country.

Just some thoughts ..
posted by chrish at 9:14 AM on July 21, 2000

Erm. English is *an* international language. Hardly the only one.
posted by feckless at 9:14 AM on July 21, 2000

I think aaron was referring to something similar to the fact that English is the de-facto language for worldwide aviation.
posted by chrish at 9:24 AM on July 21, 2000

English is easily the most widely-spoken language in the world, counting both first and second-language speakers. Mandarin Chinese has more speakers, but they're mostly in China. French was once a widely-used second language, but it's on the wane. Spanish is certainly the best second language for anyone in the Americas. But on the web, well, the language of choice is English. I'm not sure that everyone who can READ English can SPEAK it ... but then that never applied to natives either. ;-)

Back ON TOPIC (oh yes that):

* There's no technological limitation on TLD length, and everyone agrees that more descriptive is better. (USENET learned this long ago.) No more "com=company". That's why they went with words instead of the earlier-discussed abbreviations.

* Country codes in domains? Maybe as a rationing technique, but that misses the whole point of WHY a company wants a global domain. There is not now and never has been any mapping between domain names and server locations (which could be virtual anyway). I did once believe that the .us domain should be more widely used, but I know now it probably won't ever be. (We can't even get govt. agencies to always map to standard things like Chicago's www.ci.chi.il.us).

* No, there's no real difference between .shop and .store. But clearly giving more room there is warranted -- how soon before .mall and .galleria?

* A fantasy domain management thing (the kind of technologically-imposed order that hackers love) would be firstnational.bank.janesville.wi.us (geographic lines) or delta.airlines vs. delta.faucets. Another would be having the TLD mean something, e.g. ibm.inc only if you're a registered corporation, or aclu.org only if you're a non-profit. Won't ever happen -- nobody wants to pay for the infrastructure to manage it.

* This still doesn't address the fact that McDonald's is going to go out and defensively register mcdonalds.store, mcdonalds.shop, mcdonalds.web, and so forth. And under current domain/trademark law they'd possibly be entitled to those names even if somebody else (say, named McDonald) registered them. This won't solve the domain name competition problem so much as salve it.
posted by dhartung at 10:28 AM on July 21, 2000

English is the most used language on the internet (almost 88%).

Using country codes in all domains? I don't think it's good idea. First it makes the domain longer. (the shorter, the better I think) and second, in some way, it misses the point of globalization for companies and people.

Sometimes is good idea to use these type of domains (for example when you want to make clear that a brand or a company only works in that country). But is not a good idea that you or me can't make the choice of using a country domain or not.
posted by neo at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2000

USENET is a good parallel here. There were and are considerable arguments about the heirarchy, but .com and alt. still often ended up representing American rather than worldwide interests, while people around the world were almost forced to go for regional descriptors.

Seems to me that the net is almost the ANTI-geography in a way and that any site that doesn't have a *specific* function for one country should be in a TLD. Country specific stuff should be for country specific information or shopping. Want to see a guide to London - go to a co.uk not a com. But if you are doing a website about fish - hell, fish.com should be the first point of call, whether or not you are based in Thailand, Maryland or Mars.

This obviously means that more TLDs are required, and probably means that these TLDs should be focused to reflect categories that people are going to understand and wish to place their sites in WITHOUT requiring people to defend their intellectual property by buying all the TLDs with their companies name in it.

So for example noahwyle.fan would be a PREFERABLE site to noahwyle.com because it would be clear what was going to be at that site. legaladvice.gay similarly would be infinitely preferable to gaylegaladvice.com as well. Similarly holidays.kids, etoys.kids etc etc.

These categories should be relatively wide, but also relatively unambiguous to encourage people to place their sites in them appropriately. Moreover, people like ICANN should realise that the vast majority of domain names that are being sold at the moment are probably NOT going to business, but to individuals who either wish to set up a business at some point, or just want the name.

Therefore the consideration of HOW COOL IS THE DOMAIN actually should be considered. You want to leave .com's for the companies? Make a TLD that everyone thinks has a great feel to it - that will appeal to people who run personal sites, without being too cheesy.

But all of this seems to me to be missing the point at some level. Just as the domain name replaced the IP address as an effective way of navigating a site, I am beginning to think that we need a new level above that. Someone needs to assemble an informative heirarchy of sites a la Yahoo! and then encourage people to categorise themselves appropriately in that. These self contained fields would be like meta tags with discreet categories in them and in it you could place country codes, language information, what kind of site the site is etc. Then a search engine tracking the site can automatically follow the self categorisation of the site into its heirarchy, improving searchability and allowing people to search for sites according to country, language, type of site, etc etc.

I mean, if Yahoo suggested a non-proprietorial addition to the meta tags including fields like language, country the site is based in, whether it is a fan site or a personal site etc (resembling their heirarchy arrangements), and then presented the spidered options as secondary to their personal choices, well then finding a site would be a hell of a lot easier (and the domain name consequently slightly less important)...

posted by barbelith at 12:44 PM on July 21, 2000

I agree with Dan that ICANN can create TLDs ad infinitum, and all it means is more moeny for NetSOl as companies go out and register every last one of them.

we need something like a rule that an entity can register only one TLD per address, unless they do distinct things with each. (on the other hand, this gets sticky: I have a domain that I've just been sitting on until I have the time to do something with it. I don't want that taken away from me.)

or just a better dispute process, wherein the fact that you're a company does not automatically win you the case.

and how will this end the disputes anyway? if it were as easy as changing the TLD from .com to .org, there wouldn't be half the disputes. that will never satisfy a company like, say, Mattel, who is basing their actions on perceived trademark infringement.

what we need are sensible trademark laws.

posted by rebeccablood at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2000

What I would like to see, although I don't know if this would be practical, is something like what barbelith just suggested above - a system where there are TLD's that are strictly commercial, so that Burger King would be burgerking.com, but where Mr. Burger King, private citzen would have a personal site on a burgerking.verycoolTLDhere site - and that the 'personal' or 'nonprofit' designator TLD would not be available for purchase by corporations.

So, if you bought a .com for personal use, you take the risk of that word/phrase whatever being a copyright/trademark issue (in the case of Mr. Burger King, for example) but you would know that the only concern with buying a burgerking.whateverTLDisdesignatedpersonaluse your only worry would be registering it before someone else who shares your name. You would have to come up with a very cool TLD for that, though - something more appealing than .com.

I would also, in my perfect little world, like to see a few language oriented TLDs - that would designate clearly sites in Spanish, Mandarin, etc, but that are not tied specifically to one country. It is so hard for non english speakers to surf the web, because they have no way of knowing from the domain name and TLD whether or not it is in english, or their own language.

Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. Spanish is the third most spoken, and by 2010 in the US, a quarter of the country's residents will be Spanishfirst speakers. It makes sense (to me) to try to accomodate that on the web.
posted by kristin at 2:11 PM on July 21, 2000

What I want to know is when we're going to have a .blog TLD? That's what I'm waiting for!
posted by daveadams at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2000

What happened to .nom for personal sites? (And there you'd have your Internazionale Flavore, .nom being French for .name.)
posted by aaron at 5:28 PM on July 21, 2000

I hate to say this (because I've been saying it for at least 4 years now), but Kristin hit on the only useful suggestion in the whole pile:

If you have a second level domain name registered in some TLD, you should be *forbidden* from registering it in any other TLD, unless you have an *exceptionally* good reason

I'd call ibm.com -- IBM Corporation, vs ibm.net -- the IBM Global Network, an acceptable reason. I would *not* call "Hurry! register your SLD in .com, .org, and .net so no one else can get it!" a valid reason.

I would decide the "very good reasons" based on a 2/3 majority vote of backbone engineering types with at least 5 years seniority... and no commercial vested interest.

I'm *really* sorry the marketing types stuck their heads in.. but DNS namespace design is an *engineering* discipline, goddamnitalltohell.
posted by baylink at 9:28 PM on July 21, 2000

LOVE is the international language.
posted by premiumpolar at 2:51 PM on July 22, 2000

Whilst I agree with B that there seems to be little difference between shop and store, my educational background would challenge his desire to add more content based TLDs. People have just learned how it works and we go and change everything.

While legaladvice.gay might well provide a tangible and more appropriate alternative to a .com, I would always look for it under .org - the supposed home of everything non-commercial... not to mention the fact that we want to break down sexual boundaries, not re-inforce them by saying 'gays are different to everyone else' quite so blatently (flame war NOT intended)

As a Brit I always feel slightly hacked off that despite inventing the web in the first place (nice one Tim) we failed to compete in the world of significant TLDs. The more different registrations one has to make to ensure that your idea/tm/personal identity are yours and are not hijacked, the more unfriendly and impractical the web becomes.

Having said all that - surely there is scope for forcing all adult content to adopt a TLD that parents can then easily control in their own homes.
posted by nico at 8:23 PM on July 22, 2000

>>despite inventing the web in the first place...

Yes, but the Net predated that, by quite a bit. .com, .net, .org, .edu, .infinity were all in wide use long before the Web came along. ::insert jingoistic US of A anthem .wav here::
posted by aaron at 10:05 AM on July 23, 2000

[ looks -- apologies, Rebecca; you said much the same think as Kristin did, but I scrolled too fast... ]
posted by baylink at 4:23 PM on July 24, 2000

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