CATEGORY: New Domains

Watchlists, pre-registrations, and sunrise/landrush: How to prepare for new TLDs

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

If you’re starting to look into new TLD options, then you’re just in time to be really confused by the multitude of lists and services available to you right now. Watchlists, pre-registrations, sunrise, landrush—how will you know when the new TLDs you want to register will be available, and how do you navigate through the different options available to you right now? Lucky for you, we’ve put together this informative and handy-dandy guide to watchlists, pre-registration, and sunrise/landrush.

Watchlists and pre-registration: What’s the difference?

You’ll sometimes see these terms used interchangeably, but while watchlists and pre-registration may be used together (such as our New TLD Watcher, which allows you to watch extensions and specific domains), they aren’t always the same thing. Both offer the opportunity to express your interest in a new TLD before it’s officially available, and both are used by registrars to gauge how to prepare the market, but watchlists and pre-registration have different levels of commitment and serve different purposes:

Do you know what your favorite New Dots are up to?

We know this whole new TLD process can be a little confusing, so we want to remind everyone who is interested in The New Dots to take advantage of our new TLD Watcher. It’s the easiest way to stay up to speed with crucial information about the new TLDs that you’re specifically interested in.

How it works

The New TLD Watcher lets you choose which new TLDs you want news about. Rather than sifting through tons of reports and articles for information about specific TLDs, we’ll deliver it to you via periodic email updates as new information becomes available. When new TLD applications are closed or withdrawn we update the list, and if one of the TLDs you were watching is affected you’ll know about it. When there’s major news about the new TLD process as a whole, you’ll know about it. And when the TLDs you’re watching are finally available for registration, you’ll know about it!

Digital Africa Examined at ICANN 47: Resources You Can Use

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

Even though ICANN 47 is over, there are resources available online that you can still access related to the topics, timelines, and problems addressed at the summit. Some of the most striking resources are the panel transcripts and audio recordings from meetings focused on the digital African landscape and the future of web technology on the African continent.

Why focus so much on Africa? First, in the global digital divide, Africa represents the least developed areas in the world, as far as digital Web technology and access are concerned. According to the BBC, a Columbia University study, and the World Internet Statistics, Africa has fewer hosts, fewer ISP subscriptions, and less available bandwidth than any other populated continent. And, Africa is home to its own digital divide, where some countries, like South Africa, Egypt and Morocco have far more Internet infrastructure than others. ICANN and its supporting community are interested in helping Africa create better, more affordable Internet access options for the entire population of the continent, so the global Web community can function as a whole.

Six Great Reasons to Attend ICANN 47 (Sharks Are One)

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

If you’re looking forward to the Durban meeting next week, there are a couple attendance options.

  1. Work at an awesome company that will fly you to beautiful Durban—one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, boasting pristine beaches, year-round sunshine, vibrant nightlife, and awesome history (Gandhi lived in Durban; Mandela cast his historic vote there).
  2. Attend via the Internet, as part of ICANN’s remote participation.

Both are awesome options, but you’re probably leaning toward actually going there. I’ll wait for you to go ask your manager if your company will fly you there next week.

Welp. Looks like it’s remote access for us. And yes, the Adobe Connect platform is not as beautiful as beaches and stuff but it’s not all bad. For instance, I found this on the ICANN 47 website:

 There are shark nets in the sea off the main beaches and the latter are patrolled from sunrise to sunset by lifeguards.

First new TLD private auctions wrap up, no sword fights (yet)

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

Despite our rather frequent and perhaps annoying pleas to introduce fencing (read: awesome sword fights) into the new TLD contention set resolution process, the first private auctions have concluded without so much as an “en garde.” And while we can all agree that peacefully coming to resolutions using moderation and money is pret-ty boring, what’s exciting is that some new TLDs have already made it through the private auctioning process and are therefore one step closer to launching.

The Little Guys: Our Totally Unbiased List of Smaller New TLD Applicants*

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

*This list is totally biased.

Last week, we told you which new TLDs you can expect us to offer based on our relationships with three big-time applicants: Famous Four, United TLD, and Donuts. Even though these three companies cover a lot of TLD ground because of the sheer amount of TLDs they’re applying for, they aren’t the only three applicants we’ll be working with. Before we get to our other TLD partners, a story:

How to anticipate which new TLDs will be able to offer

The New Dots: Keeping you up to speed on new TLDs

There are hundreds of new TLDs starting sunrise and landrush beginning this year. Because of the sheer number of TLDs, registries, and registrars, not every registrar will be able to offer every open registry TLD option. Instead, availability will be based on registry/registrar relationships. If you already own domain names through, or use to host your site, you may be thinking, “Man, is so awesome I can hardly stand it. I wonder which new TLDs they’ll be able to offer me?”

That’s just the type of question we love to answer. We love talking about ourselves.

The short answer is that we’ll be offering a veritable s***load of open registry TLDs. While we’ll be partnering with a bunch of applicants to offer you access to their new TLDs, you can definitely count on us offering TLDs from the following registries:

The ICANN Showdown: Private Auctions, ICANN Auctions, and Sword Fights (Hopefully)

Although we’ve repeatedly suggested sword fights, pistol duels, pick a card, and freeze tag as possible resolution methods for deciding which new TLD applicant should win a contention set, ICANN’s decided to stay with auctions. And okay, ICANN, maybe that’s more “mature,” but where’s the fun? We’re still trying to advocate for the micro machine commercial guy to moderate the auctions, which we’d like to be held in a life-size replica of Thunderdome, but until we hear back from ICANN, we’ll review how contention sets are actually going to resolve so you’ll know what to realistically expect as the application process continues.

What is a contention set?

A contention set is any group of applicants applying for the same new TLD. There are over 200 strings that have more than one applicant (the most applicants one TLD has is 12). For these sets, community applications get first priority. If the community application does not pass Initial Evaluation, or in the event there is no community application, there are two main methods for resolving the set: private auctions and ICANN auctions.

Private Auctions:

Private auctions occur only when each applicant in a contention set agrees to an auction method and third party moderator. There are currently three proposed methods: A “sealed bid” auction, in which every applicant issues one bid and the winner pays the second highest bid, which is then distributed among the other applicants; an “ascending clock model” auction, in which each applicant is given an order of betting and must either bet higher than the last applicant or bow out; a “live auction,” much like our Thunderdome proposal (you know, sans battling to the death), in which all applicants will meet to outbid one another.

ICANN Auction:

It should be noted that ICANN does not want to hold ICANN auctions. In the guidebook, ICANN highly encourages applicants to settle contention sets privately. If sets go to an ICANN auction, meaning not all applicants agreed to a private auction, the proceeds of the auction will go toward funding the ICANN program or “good works.”

Private Auction Pros:

  • If auctions are held early, applicants that do not win auctions will be able to recuperate some of their costs by withdrawing. If the applicant withdraws before their Initial Evaluation is over, they’ll receive 70% of their $185,000 investment. If they withdraw after IE, they’ll receive 30%. If they wait until ICANN auctions, they’ll receive nothing.
  • Private auctions allow for the flexibility to partner with other applicants, meaning that two smaller entities might be able to run a TLD together or outbid a bigger applicant.
  • Applicants that lose one or more private auctions will be able to use their losing funds to win an auction somewhere down the road. This is particularly advantageous for applicants with more than one application.

Private Auction Cons:

Google, Uniregistry, and Amazon stated that they will not be headed to private auctions, while Donuts has agreed to enter into private auction for 63 strings (set to occur on June 3). Many wonder why Donuts, who applied for 307 TLDs, agreed while other TLD behemoths Google (101 applications) and Amazon (76 applications) bowed out. It’s hard to say what advantages an applicant gains from waiting until a last resort auction, but here are some drawbacks to private auctions that may be holding some companies back:

  • Private auctions can result in large-scale bidding wars between heavy hitters. Because the big three companies have applied for a lot of TLDs, many worry that they’ll strike agreements with one another that will leave all other smaller entities out of the private auction process. It should be noted, however, that an ICANN auction will probably cost bidders more money than a private auction and just as easily box small bidders out.
  • It’s hard to determine the worth of a new TLD until all applications make it through IE.
  • Waiting until after IE will ice-out a lot of competitors who are worried about facing big corporations and passing IE. Applicants with objections and little financial backing are likely to bow-out before an ICANN auction occurs.
  • Most importantly, waiting until after IE ensures that all bidders are in fact in the running. If an applicant wins an auction, but does not pass IE, that TLD is left in the lurch.

Private or ICANN auctions – determining which applicant will win contention sets is sure to be an exciting and dramatic process, and since we love dramz, keep checking back here to read about new updates in the application and auctioning process. To watch your favorite new TLDs, sign up for our free watcher here.

New TLD withdrawal update: Who’s ditching the application process, and why?

In the last month, seven applications have been withdrawn from the new TLD process, rounding out the to-date withdrawal number at 62. (For a full list, click here.) It may not seem like it in the face of 1,900+ applications, but 62 withdrawals is kind of a big deal and accounts for an $8 million loss for ICANN, and a loss of more than $3 million for these companies collectively (not including the legal costs involved in presenting and updating their applications, or the cost of time and manpower keeping up with a process that has dragged on much longer than expected).

The main question asked when an applicant withdraws is, “Why?” Fortunately, while many companies have been very tight-lipped on the issue, some companies are issuing releases, thereby helping to define four main reasons for withdrawal:

1. Money and Time. Because right now withdrawals receive 70 percent of their $185,000 application fee in refund, and because that percentage will drop to 35 percent after IEs, we’ll likely see more withdrawals before the Initial Evaluations are through. Aside from the costs of applications, many companies are bailing before contested strings go to auction in order to avoid getting into a contest with bigger companies, like Donuts, Google, or Amazon.

But we’re seeing some big hitters bail, too, like GM pulling .chevrolet, .cadillac, and .gmc (GM has stated that they plan to pull .buick and .chevy, as well), Hilton pulling .hilton, and Heinz pulling .heinz. For these corporations, objections and competition aren’t really a concern — they’ve seemed to have decided that the investment in time and money isn’t going to pay off in the end.

2. Objections. Some applicants are facing scrutiny from government entities, the GAC, the Independent Objector, the public, communities, or all of the above, and so failure may be too eminent. Examples include Top Level Domain Holdings withdrawing .sale, .free, .zulu, and .spa, GMbH Registry withdrawing .gmbh, and the American Cancer Society withdrawing .heart and .stroke. All of these withdrawals have followed early warnings and objections.

3. Community Protection. Probably the most notable example of this type of withdrawal was when Swiss Airlines withdrew their application for .swiss in the face of objections from the Swiss community. In that instance, the Swiss community also had an application in place, that took priority over the Swiss Airline application. The Hartford Fire Insurance Co. also withdrew their application for .hartford, and many are waiting to see if other applications like .amazon, .africa, and .patagonia will follow suit.

4. The Recent GAC RecommendationsThe recent GAC recommendations have pushed back the ICANN timeline for new TLDs — at least until after the South Africa ICANN meeting, in July. At this point, applicants have been waiting to see which applications will move through the IE, in order to gauge the competition in contested string lots. The main example here are the most recent withdrawals of .mail, by Afilias, and .llc and .inc by C.V. TLD care — all of which occurred after the recent publication of the GAC guidelines. Each of these TLDs is contested, as well — .mail, by the USPS, and .llc and .inc by governmental agencies concerned that the integrity of the LLC and INC registered marks will be compromised.

We’ll keep watching the TLD process and keep you updated on changes and withdrawals, but to follow your favorite TLDs and receive up-to-date information as they make their way through the application process, please sign up for our free watcher service.

GAC Recommendations May Slow New gTLD Process

Remember when you were a kid and you had to do all your chores before going outside? So you’d finish putting away the dishes, or whatever, and ask your parents to go outside, and they’d keep adding chores. “Clean the cat litter,” they’d say. Hours later, the sun would be setting, and you’d be crying at your window, like Cinderella. Okay, so maybe that was Cinderella. The point is, that’s precisely what seems to be happening with the new gTLD process — we want the new gTLDs to come out to play, but now the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) has a few more things they need new TLDs to do before they can leave the house.

So what’s going on with new TLDs, why does the GAC want ICANN to consider new safeguards, and what does that mean for the whole process? Here’s a breakdown:

Background: Beijing

On April 11th, the GAC released its Beijing Communique, outlining recommendations for new TLDs. The communique basically let ICANN know that the GAC isn’t currently satisfied with the direction of many new TLDs, including closed generic terms and market sector terms. You can download the full communique here, but the advice section contains the following notable recommendations:

  1. Due to lack of community support, .ISLAM and .HALAL ought not to proceed.
  2. .SHENZHEN, .PERSIANGULF, .GUANGZHOU, .AMAZON, .PATAGONIA, .DATE, .SPA, .YUN, .THAI, .ZULU, .WINE, and .VIN should not be allowed to proceed past the Initial Evaluation stage due to their perceived negative effect on the communities they might be associated with.
  3. ICANN should reconsider their stance on singular and plural strings, as the inclusion of both may be confusing to users.
  4. Six new safeguards, outlining security and privacy practices, should be put in place by contract, putting more weight on applicants and registries to make sure their new TLDs are run with utmost concern for safety and credibility.
  5. Strings that are related to market sectors ought to operate within applicable laws, should act in the public’s interest, and should adhere to multiple safeguards that ensure the strings are used to help markets function healthily — the GAC includes a “non-exhaustive” list of over 180 different proposed strings that ought to be included.
  6. .WTF, .GRIPE, .SUCKS, .FAIL ought to be regulated to reduce cyber bullying and misuse.

What’s Happening Now: Community Forum

In response to this advice, on May 10th, ICANN opened a community forum to collect feedback and responses concerning the communique and how it ought to be implemented, including this timeline, that branches all the way out into late June. The comment period ended on May 14 and there are over 90 responses in the thread inbox of community input, which you can access here. ICANN’s review of the comments will take until June 20 to complete.

The responses range in tone and direction, from concerned trademark holders and communities standing with the GAC and against allowing certain threads to be approved without added safeguards (such as Michelin Tires objecting the use of .TIRES by Bridgestone), to applicants that are sick of waiting through another advisory process and want to see the new TLD process move forward, instead of inching back (such as Google’s concern that the GAC has overstepped its bounds in advising how the new gTLD program should perform as a whole).

It seems that once again, the ICANN community, and it’s stakeholders are in a locked horns position, between those who have an invested interest in new gTLDs making it through, and those who have an invested interest in certain nTLDs failing.

What’s Next?

While ICANN doesn’t have to accept all of the GAC’s recommendations, its clear that for the time being, its New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) will takes it time in reviewing all the safeguards and recommendations, as well as try to discern whether or not the GAC is maintaining its stance as one advisory component in a multi-stakeholder, bottom-up democratic approach, or if it’s being heavy-handed. Until then, many applications will be on hold, including closed generics, market sector related TLDs, and so on.

Because the GAC’s list is non-exhaustive, and the GAC states that more safeguards may have to be put in place for certain strings than others, the recommendations have the ability to affect a very large amount of applicants. Aside from the broad range of the recommendations, the GAC states that their next meeting will be at the next ICANN convention in South Africa on July 14, which many applicants worry will mean decisions on their applications might not be made until late July.

What Do You Think?

Weigh in. It’s no secret that we, as a registrar, really kind of want new TLDs to start launching already. We’ve been waiting for a long time, and we’re excited to see how the new Internet is going to react. But, what do you think? Do you think the GAC has gone too far, or is the measure of their concern mirrored in the community? What would you do, if you were in charge of ICANN?

Let us know — and keep an eye on the new TLDs, as they make their way through the application process, by signing up for our watcher.