CATEGORY: New Domains

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. Predicts the Future

New TLD, new dots, nTLDs – Whatever you call them, they’re about to seriously redefine the way we use the Internet, think up domain names, and navigate the Web. Which has us thinking a lot about the future – in ten years, will there be so many domain name options our heads will explode? Perhaps so.

In honor of the future new TLDs, coming very soon to a computer near you, we watched futuristic sci-fi movies all weekend, and although we’re no closer to actually being able to predict the future of the Internet, we’re sure these five predictions, based on the movies we’ve been watching, are dead-on. We’re pretty busy and important (we’re sure you can tell), so we’re hoping you’ll make these predictions happen. We even helped out with possible e-com ideas and related new TLD domain names you’ll be able to purchase soon. Thank us later, and don’t forget your Grey’s Sports Almanac!

Fax Machines in Yo’ Closet.

So you thought fax machines were out? Wrong. Back to the Future II, set in 2015, predicted fax machines in closets, and we think it’s crazy enough to work. Texts? ntlds the futureSo yesterday. Nothing says, “I love you” like a creepy, early morning fax straight to the very closet your new bf is currently browsing. Getting ready for work has never been so unsettling. Now that’s romance.

How to make it happen: Launch a kick-starter and an informative site, to raise venture capital.

Possible new TLD domain name:

Personal Tiny Crossbows and Fashionable Chain-mail Will Be Hot Next Fall.

So hot, in fact, that you’ll need to go pants-less and gel your hair up just to make it through the day without suffering heat exhaustion. The crossbow not only says, “I’m too cool for school,” it also provides easily transportable personal protection in the mean streets of whatever city you’re living in. You’ll be daring people to mug you with your iCrossbow Mini.

How to make it happen: Design it yourself and create a meme of you, dressed in your new chain-mail, holding a crossbow, posed like the famous Mad Max Tina Turner poster, with the words “You only need this hero.” Start posting the meme everywhere. Then offer an e-shop to sell your ware. Profit.

Possible new TLD domain name:


Eye Scanning Lie Detectors– Wait for it – On Your Android!

Blade Runner’s depiction of 2019 is not exactly what we’d like to see happen in the next six years. Crazy homicidal robots, darkness, dystopia, weird food? No BladeRunnerthanks. But there is one thing we’ll take – the eye scanner lie detector. Totally useful for interviewing prospective employees, acing first dates, and raising honest children. A friend tells you a story you hardly believe? Whip out your lie detector eye scanner app, on your Android, and catch them in the act. You’ll be the most popular kid around.

How to make it happen: Design your lie detector app and come up with a crazy compilation of cat videos, in which one cat uses your app on another. Meow, that’s a genius marketing plan.

Possible new TLD domain name: — (, perhaps?)

Toilet Paper is for Losers. Use Seashells!

3ShellsLet’s face it. There’s nothing green about using toilet paper. You’re literally wiping your ass with nature. Cut it out, already. Demolition Man’s version of 2032 was toilet paper-less. Be the envy of all your hipster friends by figuring out how to wipe with seashells. Once you figure it out, let us know. We tried this morning, and only clogged up our toilets and caused serious “tissue” damage. HEEEEEEYYYOOOO.

Make it happen: Spend countless hours in pain and misery and then figure this out. Or don’t, and just sell seashells in a box to hapless hipsters and sci-fi fans.

Possible new TLD domain name:

Gap Will Know What Tanktops You Like.

It’s not cool to shop at Gap. We’re not sure why, but we do know there’s a reason they leave their brand label off of the t-shirts – so you won’t have to tell anyone you shop there. If Minority Report is right, though, and we think it is, Gap not only knows you shop there, but will soon have virtual personal greeters who will shout MinorityReportyour last purchase out to the mall world around you. Out with your friends, at the mall, casually chillin’? Better avoid Gap in 2054, because it will sell you out to all your homies.

Make it happen: Please don’t make this happen. In fact, do everything to make sure it doesn’t.

Possible New TLD domain name:

For more info about new TLDs, or to watch your favorites, check out our new TLD page.

Don’t Let Plural and Singular New TLDs Get You Down

Car. Cars.

The last time you were visually confused by these two words was probably first grade, but a lot of experts are concerned that in the context of TLDs, you’ll be confused. They’ve got a point. Before you balk, take a look at this:

  •,,,,,,,, marley

The above are all possible domain names, if .auto, .car, .cars, and .autos all launch. Confusing, right? Particularly if you’re trying to remember which one your friend told you is the absolutely, undeniably, hands-down most bitchin’ site to buy a car on. You’ll be wishing you wrote that one down.

Ever since the ICANN String Similarity Independent Panel issued their final say on singular and plural domains, deciding that both were ultimately permissible, there’s been a lot of worry in the domain industry. At the Beijing conference early April, the GAC brought up the concern with ICANN and requested that ICANN reconsider their position. Since ICANN uses an Independent Panel to excuse themselves from possibly biased decisions, they stated that at this time they’d defer to that panel.

So what should you do? How can you protect yourself from confusion madness?


Put on a Bob Marley song, or whatever works for you (we don’t judge), and take a deep breath. Five reasons not to worry:

  1. This isn’t the first time confusion could have occurred with TLDs. Take .biz and .bz, or .co and .com, or the multi-uses of ccTLDs, like .me, which is both the ccTLD for Montenegro and a personal website TLD option. These are potentially confusing, and yet they exist peacefully.
  2. Sure and are super-confusing. Which is why, as a brand owner, you would never register these sites, unless you were just trying to land traffic. It’s why car manufacturers don’t name their cars “car” and their dealerships “cars.” and will probably both be registered by Chevy, the trademark owner – and they’ll probably lead to the same place.
  3. One registry may fail. But these applicants knew going in that each proposed gTLD was a risk, and many went with plurals right of the bat. Why? Variety. And variety is the spice of capitalism. The market seems to always figure out how much it can take. While .car might be registered mostly by a few large-scale dealerships, .cars might end up being a desired registry for blogs, forums, and other small-scale webpages, and at that point both TLDs are discernible.
  4. You are not going to have to register your company in each possible TLD. We know many of you are small business owners and purse strings are tight. Owning several domains has always been a part of your business plan, and you may decide to select a market-specific TLD, but you don’t have to. Registering your trademark in the Clearinghouse will help keep you protected, but it’s not even possible now to register every possible TLD. And that’s okay. When’s the last time you landed on the wrong page via a typo and thought, “Hey! I’ll just shop on this shitty site instead of the cool one I really wanted?” Never. Neither will your customers. Get the ones you really want, keep your eye on the TMCH, and move on.
  5. There’s going to be so much room on the Web. And you get to be a part of that. Do you want to add a page detailing your promotions? Use a .PROMO. Want to start a new blog about beer? Use .BEER. It’s possible to stretch your legs and find your own piece of the Net.

Here’s the main thing: ICANN already has a bunch of rules. 338 pages worth, to be exact. And there are checks and balances, as well as a multi-stakeholder approach, meant to rule out any mistakes. Not everything can be delegated, though, and not every mistake can be avoided. It’s just like government – too little rules, chaos; too many rules, not enough freedom. And every market needs freedom because every market needs competition and choices.

Rule out plurals, and ICANN rules out plurals in other languages, in which visual similarity may not even be an issue. Rule out words with one letter difference, and .shop and .show might not make it. Eventually, it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide what lasts and what goes the way of the wagon. We trust you.

What is Pre-Delegation? New gTLDs and the Final Phase of the Application Process

If you’ve been following new gTLDs through the application process, then you’ve been hearing a lot about “pre-delegation.” Maybe you’ve wondered what this final phase of application entails.

Well, lucky for you, we read the ICANN guidebook for fun — we take it on vacation, have it downloaded to our tablets to read in bed, and quote it every chance we get. If you don’t find the same joy in the 300+ page guidebook, congratulations. You’re waaaay cooler than us. Since we’ve done the legwork for you, here’s an easy guide to pre-delegation and what to expect before new TLDs move to the delegation stage (the launch phase).

Pre-Delegation Explained:

After applications make it through the initial evaluation process (more about that here), they’ll need to go through pre-delegation, a series of tests an applicant must pass before being granted delegation into the root zone (the top-level domain name server zone). The testing ensures that each applicant has the technical and operational capabilities and mode of operation in place to provide registry services in a safe and secure manner, according to ICANN’s guidelines.

Although pre-delegation is currently slotted to occur IE pass results and contract signings, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade may allow pre-delegation testing to occur while ICANN continues to move through IEs, in order to speed the process of delegation. The suggestion to do so was made at the Beijing ICANN summit earlier this month, by Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett, who felt the actual process should better reflect the timeline ICANN seems to be already following.

The Three Phases of Pre-Delegation:

DNS Infrastructure Testing and Prerequisites: DNS, or the Domain Name System, which is often described as the “phone book for the Internet,” provides a naming system that translates user-friendly domain names into numerical IP addresses. The DNS infrastructure testing done for the pre-delegation phase of application is meant to ensure that applicants have the capability to run DNS functions properly.

Registry System Testing and Prerequisites: During the registry system testing, applicants submit data proving they can handle the duties of a registry – including registering a large volume of new TLDs, providing WhoIs data on each registered domain, and handling the technical and operational function capacity of a registry.

Requirement to Provide for Continuity of Basic Registry Operations: For this final test, ICANN requires a financial annualized plan put in place to provide basic registry functions “in case of registry failure.” The financial plan is meant to act as a back-up plan in case the applicant does not succeed in providing a fully operating registry and needs to scale-back to bare-bones operational capabilities until a solution can be reached. It’s a step meant to protect those who own domains within the registry.

The ICANN guidebook goes into more detail about the specific tests of pre-delegation (we lovingly left those details out, but you can download the guidebook off the ICANN website). Most tests are run by the applicants, who then provide data to ICANN, but ICANN runs its own tests, when needed. At the end of pre-delegation, applicants may enter into an agreement with ICANN, after which they may launch their new TLDs.

So how long will it take new gTLD that are passing through Initial Evaluation to launch? 

The pace of pre-delegation depends on the readiness of the applicant – if the applicant has all their systems in place, and has made the functionality of their systems clear in application, the pre-delegation phase is merely a formality. For those who need to tweak their proposed systems, or who need to provide more security, the pre-delegation phase may extend longer.

If pre-delegation is allowed to start immediately, before signed contracts, then launches will occur at a faster rate than if applicants are required to wait for IE results before pre-delegation testing, and then will have to wait for testing before delegation.

Keep an eye on your favorite nTLDs, as they move through the application process, by using our nTLD watcher. And keep checking back here. We’ll have up-to-date information on the nTLD application process throughout each phase.