Growing Pains and the Gandi Survey

by Brad White on June 9, 2009

As part of my job at ICANN… I have to read a lot of news clips. This morning, one headline in particular caught my eye: “Domain changes coming”. It was from Reuters and started: “Two thirds of businesses are unaware they will be able to use their own name in place of domain extensions such as .com, .org, or .net when Internet domains are liberalized next year, according to a survey.”

Well, they are probably aware now.

For many of us at ICANN it can come as a shock – where the new gTLD process has been a part of everyday life for more than two years – to suddenly be reminded that despite all the discussions, the meetings, the public comment periods, the sessions across the world, and the seemingly endless documents, the whole process of opening up the domain name space has until recently gone largely unnoticed by the wider world.

From my perspective, a number of reporters “buried the lead” when they reported on this new study commissioned by British registrar Gandi. What they buried or didn’t report at all is that of 100 UK businesses surveyed, 81 percent say the gTLD expansion will be innovative, and 75 percent say it will be advantageous.

This is especially significant since nearly all the coverage up to now has focused on the struggle to find solutions to the remaining overarching issues such as trademark protection.

Gandi also commissioned Futurelab to survey 1,000 consumers (on top of the 100 businesses) about new gTLDs. Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that businesses are concerned the costs of a new gTLD, while many consumers are simply concerned that the Internet might become more cluttered and not be as navigable as it is today.

So the survey provides a spot check on where attitudes are today, but it also underscores a critical fact: that gTLD expansion is literally a work in progress and the application process won’t be opened up until the concerns are addressed.

We still have at least one more round of public comments on the next draft of the Applicant Guidebook. The most concerning aspect about this from the staff perspective, however, is that people will either not hear about the process in time or – worse – hear about it but do not become aware that they can have an impact and express their views – that ICANN is building a broad consensus view about how to move forward with the greatest ever expansion of the domain space.

The Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) is a case in point. When we heard the concerns expressed about trademark, the concerned community was asked to come up with solutions to be fed back into the ICANN process. Now the IRT final report is published and out for public comments and our Sydney meeting later this month will give everyone else in the community the chance to say what they think about those solutions.

Undoubtedly, the Gandi study will fuel more discussion surrounding gTLD expansion at Sydney. Great, we welcome it. The most dangerous voice is the one not heard.

We have already set aside several months of awareness building after the Applicant Guidebook is finished and published; the earlier people become aware of the process, not only does it mean we have to reach fewer people but also more people learn about the fact that they can get involved in ICANN’s processes.

If you can’t attend the Sydney meeting we urge you to take part remotely.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Stéphane Bortzmeyer 06.09.09 at 11:09 pm

British, Gandi? http://www.gandi.net/whowe/

Joe (Gandi) 06.09.09 at 11:36 pm

Hi Brad,

Great to have you guys involved. I agree some of the headlines have focused on the ‘shock’ parts of the survey, and you are correct that businesses that do know about it do see the opportunities. We had some global brands we talked to say “we are excited about this, but don’t tell anyone yet”. So there are some positives. The full report can be downloaded here;

http://www.gandibar.net/pages/Gandi-report-on-ICANN-domain-name-liberalisation

And we’re happy to share the raw data with you if you’d like.

For consumers there was clearly concern about the ‘polluted’ name space with spammers, squatters, ad sites and phishers. This is not a problem of liberalisation, but rather high lights a growing problem in the name space, where many of the commercial parties (registries, registrars) have some responsibility in cleaning it up.

The fact that there is a viable business model to hold domains and advertise on them which can be more profitable than selling them to end users is quite extraordinary. This is profit for profits sake. What should the name space be used for? The fact that this is done by registrars themselves and presented by some registries as a supplemental business model is also quite extraordinary.

My personal hope is that the new name space will lead to a higher code of conduct for use and management of names. As new registries seek to secure credibility they may prevent some of these practices, which in turn may force some of the existing registries to clean up their spaces.

So let us all work together to increase the awareness of these issues. We support ICANN and the process of liberalisation as an exciting opportunity for businesses and consumers. But we want a higher level of engagement from the end users of domains to fight for what they want in the name space. According to our survey, they don’t feel they are getting it.

Let’s meet in Sydney. Take care,

Joe

Barry Leiba 06.10.09 at 6:58 am

For consumers there was clearly concern about the ‘polluted’ name space with spammers, squatters, ad sites and phishers.

Indeed, and it isn’t just consumers: many of us techies are worried about that as well. We’re looking at turning the Internet into one of those towns that has Maple Street, Maple Avenue, Maple Drive, Maple Lane, Maple Road, Maple Court, and Maple Way, and visitors can’t find the Maple they’re looking for. And those who’ll benefit are those who’ll make money by selling TLDs (and second-level domain names under TLDs they buy).

I’ve been on about this for some time; see these two blog posts, for example, from two years ago and one year ago, respectively:
http://staringatemptypages.blogspot.com/2007/08/good-and-bad-of-top-level-domains.html
http://staringatemptypages.blogspot.com/2008/06/nyc-tld.html

And I had a conversation with Peter Dengate-Thrush about it at the last IETF meeting in San Francisco. He wants the market to decide.

The problem is that it’ll be an artificial market, where businesses will feel they have to buy their names to protect themselves. Meanwhile, consumers will just rely on Google even more than they do now, and the domain names will, ironically, matter less than ever.

Ray Marshall 06.11.09 at 8:04 pm

Provided below are examples of churches, schools, businesses, a club, and even a university that have embraced the concept of a DOT-City TLD via the DOT-LA. The DOT-LA domain space is a ccTLD that is currently being marketed under a long-term lease as a DOT-City TLD to the residents and businesses of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.

The examples below clearly indicate a desire for DOT-City TLDs by residents and businesses. Many have indicated that ICANN should not expand the number of gTLDs since this action would confuse consumers. Apparently, the churches, schools, businesses, and other entities shown below don’t share that opinion.

Just imagine how many other churches, schools, businesses, clubs, universities, etc. would set up their own website on a DOT-City TLD if given the opportunity. Hopefully, consumers in other cities will get the opportunity to purchase a DOT-City TLD in the near term so they too may have access to the same benefits that are currently being enjoyed by those shown below.

SONRISE.LA (Church)
PARADOX.LA (Church)
HYPNOTHERAPY.LA (Business)
BELVEDEREGROUP.LA (Business)
ERC.LA (Church)
WESTNET.LA (Business)
TEAMONE.LA (Business)
TRUSTLITIGATION.LA (Business)
POOLS.LA (Business)
PMM.LA (Business)
NETWORKEXPERTS.LA (Business)
THEGARDEN.LA (School)
ERHS.LA (School)
MEDIASTORM.LA (Business)
HORSEBACKRIDING.LA (Business)
CONNECTED.LA (Business)
BAMBOOHOUSE.LA (Business)
TORNADODESIGN.LA (Business)
DISTRIBUTION.LA (Business)
BLU.LA (Business)
SAHAJAYOGA.LA (Business)
POETRY.LA (Community)
EMBEDDEDIN.LA (Business)
DIGITALHEADSHOTS.LA (Business)
GOLDENGOPHER.LA (Business)
SEVENGRAND.LA (Business)
BROADWAYBAR.LA (Business)
IAU.LA (University)
DIGITALART.LA (Business)
ALLACCESS.LA (Business)
BARCELONA.LA (Business)
PLASTICSURGERY.LA (Business)
JUBILEE.LA (Business)
SEGWAY.LA (Business)
FIRSTCOMMERCEBANK.LA (Business)
SQL.LA (Professional Group)
PROPERTIES.LA (Business)
ESTATES.LA (Business)
SPAZIO.LA (Business)
MILLERTOYOTA.LA (Business)
LATC.LA (Club)
MILLERHONDA.LA (Business)
ELECTRICPICTURES.LA (Business)
ACS.LA (Business)
SUNGLASSES.LA (Business)

medyum 07.22.09 at 12:40 am

The problem is that it’ll be an artificial market, where businesses will feel they have to buy their names to protect themselves. Meanwhile, consumers will just rely on Google even more than they do now, and the domain names will, ironically, matter less than ever.

Kraloyun 07.27.09 at 11:32 pm

?????? why?

The problem is that it’ll be an artificial market, where businesses will feel they have to buy their names to protect themselves. Meanwhile, consumers will just rely on Google even more than they do now, and the domain names will, ironically, matter less than ever.

Single 11.20.09 at 5:21 am

Your site doesn’t correctly work in Safari 4 in Mac OS X (4Version) :( Please help me How can I remove the problem

araç sorgulama 12.29.09 at 3:50 am

The problem is that it’ll be an artificial market, where businesses will feel they have to buy their names to protect themselves. Meanwhile, consumers will just rely on Google even more than they do now, and the domain names will, ironically, matter less than ever.

laser 12.30.09 at 6:31 am

this is just stupid. i was unaware about “Domain changes coming”. this will not help anyone.

laser 12.30.09 at 6:33 am

When exactly will this happen? What month?

casus telefon 03.22.10 at 2:36 am

The problem is that it’ll be an artificial market, where businesses will feel they have to buy their names to protect themselves. Meanwhile, consumers will just rely on Google even more than they do now, and the domain names will, ironically, matter less than ever.

.

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