[NA-Discuss] The TLD-less NYC

John R. Levine johnl at iecc.com
Sat Apr 2 18:05:33 UTC 2011

> in fact the reason i am involved with ICANN is the blooming of a 1000 blooms

We all have our favorite metaphors, although in this case I think the 
swarming of a thousand blood-sucking insects is more apropos.

Look, there's basically two reasons to set up new GTLDs: ICANN said they 
would in 1998, and some people think they'll make a lot of money. 
Everything else is unpersuasive.  (In particular, the "choice" argument is 
silly unless someone can explain what's so special about his favorite 
domain that it will get people to migrate from .COM when nothing else in 
the past decade has.)

Back in 1998 I felt like you did, what the heck, set up some new TLDs. 
But since then I was surprised to see both how well Verisign persuaded the 
world that 2LDs are fashion accessories, and that 3rd levels are for 
losers, and how thoroughly the domain business has been overwhelmed by 
speculators and squatters and trademark lawyers and a whole lot of crooks.

Now the process has gotten so expensive that you can't afford to apply for 
a new TLD unless you expect to get hundreds of thousands of registrations, 
just to cover your costs.  I think .MUSUEM is cute and harmless, but there 
will never be another cute little TLD plodding on year after year with a 
few hundred registrations, because the registry would lose a fortune.  If 
you need vast numbers of registrations, you can't afford to be fussy about 
who your registrants are, with predictable results, e.g., I know people 
who use the presence of a .info domain as a spam filter, with a close to 
zero error rate.

So since we are smart people, isn't it time to look at what we've learned 
in 13 years, and admit that something that might have seemed like a good 
idea in 1998 isn't such a good idea now?

John Levine, johnl at iecc.com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail. http://jl.ly

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