Video update to the Applicant Guidebook process

by Kieren McCarthy on February 4, 2009

So, no doubt you have all been wondering what exactly ICANN and its staff have been up to over January with respect to the Applicant Guidebook and the reams of comments covering the new generic top-level domain process.

In order to provide some answers and perspective, ICANN’s most senior executives dealing with the process – the CEO Paul Twomey, the COO Doug Brent and the Senior Vice President for Services Kurt Pritz – have done a video update on where we are now and where the process is going.

You can see it on the right-hand-side of this post. A transcript is below. Enjoy.

* Applicant Guidebook Update – February 2009
* [computer keys tapping]
* Applicant Guidebook Update – February 2009 ICANN
* Hi, I’m Paul Twomey, the President and CEO of ICANN–
* Paul Twomey, President & CEO, ICANN
* –and I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a few overarching comments–
* –about the new generic top-level domain process presently being undertaken by ICANN.
* The process has had 2 parts.
* The first has been a long-term process of consultation and policy development from the community up through the Generic Names Supporting Organization
* –which has taken nearly 3 years.
* Since June last year, the board of ICANN has then asked the staff of ICANN to work through what is feasible in terms of implementation–
* –and that is where we are presently in the process.
* End of last year, we put out for comment a draft Applicant Guidebook for people who were thinking of applying and to get the feedback.
* I’m very pleased to say that we received over 1,000 responses to that document–
* –and I think that’s a great success.
* We are not yet complete by any means.
* Doug Brent – Chief Operating Officer, ICANN
* In a lot of ways, I think this new gTLD process that we’re running is exemplary of how the ICANN model really works.
* So the cycle is really pretty simple.
* Policy approval led to an implementation guidebook that was reviewed by the board and approved for posting.
* The community provided extensive feedback.
* That feedback is now being processed and the guidebook updated as we process these comments.
* The result will be an analysis of the comments so the community can see their comments were really heard–
* –and an updated draft guidebook that will be reviewed by the board and, as you can imagine, particularly on some key issues.
* That then updated guidebook will be posted in English and 5 other languages–
* –presented to the community in Mexico City–
* –and undoubtedly considered further after that time.
* I think we have already seen, through this response period, very clearly–
* –that there is a demand from a large number of people who are looking at potentially putting in applications.
* There has been another family of responses, many of them from industry associations–
* –focusing on some broader, overarching issues.
* First of all, and probably the most pressing, has been brand protection issues.
* Secondly has been concerns about whether the introduction of new gTLDs, DNSSEC, IDNs–
* –is imposing a form of challenge to scale in being able to implement.
* One of the third major issues is is the implementation of new gTLDs going to make it more difficult to manage–
* –some of the malware, phishing, pharming, and related type issues that already exist within the DNS system?
* I don’t think it’s anyone’s intention that brand holders should be held to any form of extortion in the operation of new gTLDs–
* –particularly at the second level, and that’s an issue which needs to be discussed.
* On the concerns about potential confusion and for the increase in malicious behavior that might emerge from having many more new gTLDs–
* –I think we really should think about this in a more creative way.
* I personally consider that we are facing now actually an opportunity for us to explore what the contractual frameworks could be for the new gTLDs–
* –both at the registry level and potentially flow through to the registrar level–
* –that might help us address some of the existing concerns that we already have.
* We have a body of legacy contracts and experience–
* –but potentially with these new gTLDs, we might be able to review and consider the contractual terms and frameworks–
* –which might help address some of the concerns of the people who are rightly concerned with these sort of malware and malicious behavior environments.
* One has to be conscious, however, that that can only be done in the context of national laws and what is feasible under those laws–
* –but nevertheless, I think we now also want to consider this an opportunity for an outreach and discussion with that community–
* –to think what would be feasible as well as with registries and registrars–
* –so that we can consider the new gTLD environment as a new way of considering–a new opportunity to consider–these contractual environments–
* –separate, if you like, from the legacy contracts that have been in place now for 10 years or more.
* Innovation is not something driven simply by demand in a marketplace.
* It is provided also by the opportunities in the structure of the marketplace and the technology available.
* We would not have a Skype, a Google, a Facebook simply because people said, “Would you like to have a Facebook?”
* These all come from entrepreneurs offering opportunities to a market and seeing what is feasible in an environment of innovation–
* –and that is an important part, I think, of the framework in which we need to consider the new gTLD round.
* Kurt Pritz – SVP of Services, ICANN
* The next version of the applicant guidebook will be published in anticipation of ICANN’s meeting in Mexico City in March.
* Some of the changes you’ll see in this new version of the guidebook will include changes to the evaluation criteria–
* –more detailed procedures, changes in fees paid by gTLD registry operators, more protections for others.
* You’ll also see areas where additional study will be undertaken or additional consultations will take place.
* So to summarize, I am very pleased and thankful to all the members of the global internet community–
* –who have responded to this first round process of consultation on the draft applicant guidebook for new generic top-level domains.
* It has been a very successful process of feedback.
* We will follow our usual ICANN process of consultation, putting things back out for discussion, try to summarize, get more consultation.
* That is the way we work.
* This can be a noisy and sometimes heated process–
* –and we will think through those issues and potentially put forward yet again another round of an Applicant Guidebook–
* –that people can look at and consider.
* So we are listening very carefully–
* –we are wanting to engage and discuss–
* –we are following the usual ICANN processes, and I’d like to thank you very much for being involved in that–
* –and being part of the community that’s actually making the future of the DNS.
* New gTLDs and the Internet
* Openness
* Change
* Innovation

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

George Kirikos 02.04.09 at 4:48 pm

Written transcripts would have been beneficial, as they would have taken a lot less than 6 minutes and 22 seconds to read, use a lot less bandwidth, and can be translated using Google Translate. They can also be easily indexed, searched, and cut/paste, unlike video.

Kieren McCarthy 02.05.09 at 8:27 am

@ George: In fact this video is being transcribed as we speak and it is also being translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian – as we do and have done with nearly all of our videos. (See our video page for more examples.)

You can see here for an example where we have put up a blog post and the transcript. But we felt that we would put the video up as soon as it was finished and then get on with the transcription and translation. After all, it is a video and has been created to be viewed and not read.

Incidentally, if your concern is that this is the only information on the process, do not be concerned. There is a comprehensive summary and analysis of public comments that will be published with an revised guidebook and a number of other pieces of supporting material.

This video just serves as what we hope is a useful update to the community in an easy-to-view format.


Kieren McCarthy 02.06.09 at 4:18 pm

Just as a quick update to this (the day following the comment above) – the transcript is now complete and the translation has begun. You can actually watch the progress of translation by clicking on the language bar at the bottom of each video.

I should give a plug here to DotSub – whose transcription and translation software allows this to happen in an incredibly easy fashion.


Observer 02.06.09 at 8:13 pm

One issue that hasn’t been raised during this entire process is the positive effect that the introduction of new City TLDs may have on the labor market. I suggest that you advertise this issue as one of many benefits that may be gained from your efforts to bring choice and creativity to the Internet, especially given the current state of affairs in the employment figures throughout the world!

M. Menius 02.07.09 at 4:49 pm

The video is helpful to put a face, and sentiment, behind the comments of ICANN. The transcript is appreciated too.

The new gTLD’s are presented by Twomey as a push for innovation not unlike Facebook, Google, etc. The difference is that those privately held companies were able to launch with no potential repercussions to the larger internet community due to the singular and confined nature of their business. They would succeed, or fade by the wayside, with little damaging ripple effect.

The new gTLD proposal risks multiple negative consequences to several large & influential groups (as eloquently described in the ICANN discussion forum). Personally, it seems more pie-in-the-sky to envision a wave of new tld’s as bringing any real innovation to the market. New tld’s have been done, and we have clear historical precedent that new tld’s are only marginally embraced … if at all. This practical reality suggests, strongly, that there is no substantial need for new tld’s.

Major corporations wrote ICANN. And the overwhelming consensus was against the proposal. A handful of registrars and registries, who stand to gain, were the primary bases of support. Who are these companies wanting a wave of new tld’s? Where is this large list of stakeholder constituents who are ready to fund their own vanity tld and bring “innovation” to the market? In lieu of the profuse letters of concern submitted to ICANN, the $185,000 tld application fee seems a more real & tangible incentive at work than does a desire to innovate.

Perhaps ICANN genuinely want to bring innovation to the domain & internet community. But the proposal must be brought forth, crafted, and implemented with great care, and a defensive mindset, due to the widespread and immediate impact it will have on corporations and website owners. Can ICANN guarantee only positive effects, and the absence of litigation and other harmful ripple effects? Once the genie is out of the bottle, it will be too late to reverse direction.

What about existing registries, already on record now, who are poised to demand that ICANN rewrite their agreements to allow for unregulated pricing. This cannot happen … ever! It cannot be allowed … and the inevitable decision falls squarely on ICANN. There will be years of lawsuits and an aggressive firestorm of criticism, and legal opposition, toward ICANN and its officers, if ICANN were to give in to existing registries who will claim “unfair competition” (pending the allowance of such unregulated pricing for any newly introduced tld).

In closing, savvy internetters and entrepreneurs can appreciate the “innovation” rationale. But that argument must be tempered, and weighed against ALL of the legitimate concerns voiced by an ocean of opposition. An ocean of support is a vote of confidence. But an ocean of oppostion is a signal than ICANN’s proposal isn’t close to acceptable. To ignore the voice of the internet community would point clearly to corruption and greedy financial incentives tied to a small handful of gTLD supporters. I think better of ICANN … so I’m cautiously optimistic.

ICANN, please continue to listen and adapt. Please present your most compelling arguments, and then step back to take in the feedback, and incorporate the feedback, of many interested parties. We look forward to your intelligent, carefully crafted policies that protect the hard-earned status quo as much as they push to innovate.

Internet commerce funds you. Domain investors fund you, and will demand a voice, and ICANN accountability. In this climate of arrogant egos gone wild, and financial malfeasance, the people will not stand by idle while policymakers make bad decisions that affect their futures.

Thank you for considering these comments.

George Kirikos 02.08.09 at 5:47 am

Posted transcripts (i.e. in HTML or ASCII text) that folks can copy/paste, etc. are far superior to text embedded in flash.

denis rice 02.08.09 at 11:12 am

I agree with Mr. Kirikos about the impropriety of a video rather than a transcipt. I know the officers like to see their visages on the web, but I think consideration should be given to those of us who are still trying to evaluate the pros and cons of this new regime in these difficult economic times.

Kieren McCarthy 02.09.09 at 10:18 am

@ M Menius: Thank you for your comments. I hope you also took the opportunity to make these points during the first comment period. If so, you should see them reflected in the upcoming summary and analysis of comments.

There will also be a second public comment period starting soon where I hope you will also make any comments you feel appropriate following review of the summary/analysis and the revised Applicant Guidebook.

@ George Kirikos and Denis Rice: I’m afraid I have to disagree with you wrt the use of video. Video is an extremely effective means of communication and certainly in this context I would argue is more effective than a text update (incidentally, we also put out an extensive text update on the process on 9 January).

The whole point is that ICANN staff are attempting to communicate as widely as possible, and in as many different formats as possible, news of progress on the Applicant Guidebook prior to the release of the revised guidebook.

From the feedback we have received so far, and from the number of people that have watched the video – currently over 1,100 – I would argue that this video approach has been extremely effective.

When we have the transcript translated into another five languages, we will also be able to explain to the wider Internet community the process that ICANN is following.

It may seem daft to point this out, but the existence of a video has no impact on the revised text that will be released for community review and which will be the guide used for the new gTLD process.

What the video should help to do is build up greater awareness and so result in more eyes looking at the actual text – and that can only be a good thing.


Kieren McCarthy
General manager of public participation, ICANN

George Kirikos 02.09.09 at 11:01 am

If you have a text transcript, then why don’t you simply post it? Then those who prefer HTML/ASCII text can access it directly, whereas those who prefer to wade through 6+ minutes of video/flash each time they want to find the quote they were looking for can choose the video.

Kieren McCarthy 02.10.09 at 1:42 pm

A second quick update. The video has now been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian and all of these transcriptions are available on the video itself by clicking the language box at the bottom of the video.

The English transcript has also been added to this post – see above.


Ray Marshall 02.11.09 at 6:19 am


I have a question with regards to this blog. A while back, I was able to leave comments (just a handful over several months) and noticed that at a certain point in time, I was no longer able to use my e-mail address/website link. My e-mail address is based on Dot-LA as is my website address. Now, I’m forced to participate in a more obscure basis via an ISP e-mail address for concern that I won’t be able to express my thoughts on this blog. Can you please explain whether, or not, ICANN is preventing certain individuals from participating on this blog? I’m willing to take this question off-line via e-mail or phone.


Kieren McCarthy 02.11.09 at 4:59 pm

@Ray: Hi Ray, let me assure you that ICANN is not preventing anyone from participating on this blog. We do block spammers but that’s par for the course – and we use WordPress’ Akismet service. The only thing I can think of is that your website address has been blacklisted by the wider WordPress community.

I am happy to take more details offline – please email me at kieren[dot]mccarthy[at] But in answer to your question, no, we are not preventing anyone from participating here.


Ray Marshall 02.12.09 at 9:41 pm


Thank you for your response. You should have received an e-mail from me last night.


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