[NA-Discuss] Dotless domains

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Mon Jun 10 06:10:24 UTC 2013

My non-technical PoV on the issue finds the issue of dotless domains to be
a mind-boggling intersection of search and DNS, which already seem to be
converging (from an end-user PoV).

Consider Google's Chrome browser (and the Chromium open source version --
which I use -- that forms Chrome's core). It does not make a distinction
between a domain name and a search term entered into its single entry
field. If you enter "search.com" it will convert that to "http://search.com",
but if you enter "search" it will return a Google list of matches (as if
you went to google.com and entered "search").

However, if you type "search" into the URL entry field of a non-Google
browser (Firefox, Explorer, Safari) results are unpredictable. There are
separate windows in these browsers for URLs and searches. What Google is
proposing would *force* non-Google browsers to resolve "search" typed in
the URL field to "http://search", a dotless domain owned and controlled by

It is no wonder that both
Mozilla <http://forum.icann.org/lists/sac053-dotless-domains/msg00035.html>have
also spoken out in support of SSAC 053 (and against dotless domains).
But it does beg the question of why ICANN hasn't rejected Google's plan (or
at best, punt it to the next round) given the sound bases for opposing it.

I happen to hold the personal PoV that while the DNS is increasingly valued
by the domain industry, its value to the end-user public is decreasing.
Alternate roots, QR codes, increasingly sophisticated search engines,
social media home pages -- all of these provide end users and content
providers with ways to get the content they want without directly typing
"memorable" Latin-script domain names. These methods address challenges
such as contention, international character sets, trademark infringement
and single country control. As just one example, there have been
Chinese-language searches on Baidu many years longer than there have been
good working Chinese IDNs.

I believe that the expansion of the gTLD space -- as currently scheduled by
ICANN -- will IMO further erode public trust in the DNS and turn people
away from directly using domains at just the time the domain namespace is

In this scenario, it is understandable that Google (in its own interest)
would seek dotless domains in order to further its dominance of search
space even should domain use by end users erode. I do not, however, see
public interest in this.

IMO the issue is premature for discussion at the next NARALO meeting unless
there is time left after existing business. However, the discussion should
continue and future action may well be considered.

On 10 June 2013 00:50, John R. Levine <johnl at iecc.com> wrote:

> To try to understand this issue:  why were dotless domains ruled out of
>> the new gTLD expansion?  What is the problem with them?
> The SSAC 053 report describes the issues pretty well.  The short
> explanation is that for the past zillion years (in Internet time) the only
> use of dotless names has been private use on internal networks, and there's
> a lot of software that assumes that's what they are.  Adding global dotless
> domains would be really flaky.
> Typical example:
> http://blah/
> means a local host called blah, not the .blah domain.
> The GAC objected to Google's having .search as a private domain, so Google
> concocted a dotless hack and sent it to ICANN, who are currently scratching
> their heads.  There are several other applicants for .search so even if
> ICANN were to decide Google's application was OK, they'd still have to slug
> it out with the other applicants.
> Regards,
> 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

Evan Leibovitch
Toronto Canada

Em: evan at telly dot org
Sk: evanleibovitch
Tw: el56

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