“Premium” domain names

December 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Domain Incite reports:

DotKiwi has put NZD 8.5 milion ($7 million) of “premium” domain names on the market in advance of the delegation of .kiwi, which it expects to happen this week.

There are 4,668 names on sale right now, ranging in price from NZD 501.50 ($410) to NZD 124,626.71 ($102,000).

The ten most expensive names are:

hotels.kiwi 124,626.71 NZD
cruises.kiwi 83,193.27 NZD
clothes.kiwi 47,248.89 NZD
games.kiwi 46,212.14 NZD
auto.kiwi 41,579.89 NZD
travel.kiwi 39,947.41 NZD
dentist.kiwi 30,000.00 NZD
love.kiwi 28,728.59 NZD
teaching.kiwi 26,933.29 NZD
blackjack.kiwi 26,932.42 NZD

My view is a domain name is of course worth what someone is willing to pay for it. But I do reflect that I doubt anyone in the world tries to buy books by going to books.com or books.co.nz.  In fact who knows what those sites even are (turns out the former redirects to Barnes & Noble and the latter doesn’t exist). One can turn an obscure name like Amazon or Fishpond into a well known brand.

ICANN is doing the final approvals for new gTLDs at about the rate of ten a week since the first batch on 23 October.  some of the new gTLDs that are operative are:

  • .today
  • .plumbing
  • .sexy
  • .tattoo
  • .land
  • .bike
  • .singles
  • .guru

It will be interesting to see which ones do well, and which ones stagnate or even fail.

 

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Removing domain names

June 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Domain names considered racist toward Maori can not be removed by the body that manages them unless they are ordered to by a court.

One domain name, unemployed.maori.nz, links straight to the Work and Income New Zealand website.

Another, called kai.maori.nz, redirects to the KFC website.

Auckland University of Technology lecturer Steve Elders it was part of a growing trend of “online Maori bashing”.

The Domain Names Commission (DNC) should de-register them, he told Radio New Zealand.

I’m a member of the Domain Name Commission. I don’t speak for them on this issue. I’m just commenting on the wider policy issue.

I’m really not sure that people want the Domain Name Commission made judge, jury and executioner as to which websites are acceptable, and which are not. Call me old fashioned but I think it is up to Parliament to decide on what content is legal or illegal, and for the courts to decide if something is in breach.

As fun as it would be for me, and four others, to have the power to unilaterally remove websites and domain names from the Internet purely because we don’t like it, I’m really not sure that is good for the Internet or for New Zealand.

But the commission can not take down domain names unless a court orders the body to, its  communications adviser Patrick Watson told Fairfax Media.

“It’s not in the Domain Name Commission’s mandate to investigate anything to do with content, so we don’t comment on any material published online,” he said.

“With these sorts of issues, people who have concerns about the actual content, they have to follow alternative routes with lawyers or the Commerce Commission, or the Human Rights Commission.”

The commission had an open registration process and names were taken on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

But  the commission received a court order, it would  make sure the order was complied with.

A domain name is just an identifier on the Internet. What people do with it – good, bad or neutral, is up to them. If they break the law with it they face consequences. If a court orders a domain name removed (which does happen sometimes), then the court order is complied with.

New Plymouth’s Brett Healy, the registrar of the domain unemployed.maori.nz, said offence was “taken, not given”, and he had not publicised the domain in any way.

“Claims like Mr Elders seem to be over-dramatic, the other domains referenced don’t appear to have page ranks on Google or have any sites dedicated to directing users to go there,” he said.

That is the interesting thing. As far as I can tell a number of these domain names were registered by people who participate in GP Forums - known for pranks like this. Some of the domains were registered over a decade ago, and some around a year ago. They had never been picked up in Google or anything. They were basically a private joke that no one would stumble over unless they went looking for them. Ironically it is the complaint from the academic which has made them well known.

The other issue with this is that removing a domain name should be a last resort. A domain name is not the same as a website. A domain name can enable numerous services such as e-mail. If there is an issue with a particular website, it is preferable to target the website, not the domain name – there can be significant collateral damage – often to innocent parties, when domain names are targeted.

The other thing to also remember with domain names, is that anyone who manages a domain name can create a sub-domain. If you (for example) registered unemployed.com you could create a sub-domain of maori.unemployed.com and redirect that to the WINZ website also.  So trying to exert censorship through the domain name system will almost inevitably fail.

This is not to condone the antics of those involved. If people don’t like what they have done, then they can complain to the Human Rights Commission, or more preferably express their disquiet directly to the individuals that registered the names, and are using them in that way. Unlike some other TLDs, .nz does not allow registrants to conceal their identities. That means the registrant of a .nz domain name is publicly contactable.

Again, note these are my personal views.

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Consulting on whether .nz should be opened up

June 17th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The .nz Domain Name Commission (note I am a director of it) is consulting on a revised proposal to allow registrants to register .nz domain names at the second level (anyname.nz) rather than only the third level (anyname.2ld.nz).

A major concern expressed by some submitters was that existing registrants could feel “forced” to incur extra costs in registering anyname.nz on top of their existing anyname.co.nz name.  To mitigate this issue, DNCL is proposing that existing registrants be able to reserve registration of the equivalent of their current name at the second level (for no cost for at least two years).   DNCL believes this modified proposal delivers significant benefits to registrants without disadvantaging those who do not wish to use a name at the second level.  There are also other changes to the proposal following the initial consultation.

If you’re interested in this issue, I encourage you to make a submission at the above link.

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Dot Kiwi approved in principle

May 29th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Dot Kiwi have announced:

For the first time millions of New Zealanders will have access to new email addresses and websites ending in .kiwi rather than .co.nz, .kiwi.nz or other similar .nz formats following international regulatory approval from Los Angeles over the weekend.

.kiwi is the first New Zealand-based generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) approved by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in its new gTLD programme, which ushers in a host of new domains such as .london and .microsoft. …

New Zealand’s new domain name is expected to be available for individuals and organisations to purchase as early as mid-August for trademark holders and October/November for the general public. Interest can be registered at www.dot-kiwi.com . 

Speaking for me personally, I think competition is a good thing, and look forward to .kiwi being approved and available for use.

It appears 433 proposed new TLDs have passed their initial evaluation. Some of them are:

  • .dog
  • .party
  • .food
  • .mormon
  • .camera
  • .fishing
  • .wedding
  • .city

 

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Australia objects to 129 new TLDs

November 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia’s government is lodging more warnings than any other government in the world against top level domain name applications, reinforcing its reputation as an over-regulator of the internet.

Out of 243 “early warnings” against domain applications, the Australian government lodged 129 - more than half.

The period of evaluation for applications for top-level domains began after Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the new generic category in June.

Most of the objections are against generic terms, such as .food, .tennis or .books, where giving one company exclusive use of the domain would “exclude potential competitors” and allow that company to dominate the market.

129 objections is ridicolous. The Australian Govt is often regulation heavy when it comes to the Internet. Having said that there are legitimate issues with some applications such as do you let Amazon get .books which is a generic term?

Having said that, I note Amazon got famous as amazon.com and I don’t even know if there is a site called books.com – so a name is not as important as what you do with it.

However, the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) also objected to domains ending in fail, gripe, sucks and wtf (short for what the f–k?) because they are “overtly negative or critical connotation’. The government is concerned these domains could be used to damage individuals or organisations, for example www.labor.sucks or www.liberal.sucks, and force organisations into buying the website to avoid embarrassment.

Now that is just silly. People could get liberalsucks.com at the moment anyway.

Australia has a history of strict internet naming regulations, according Ms Carlsson. It is one of the only countries will only allow someone to purchase a .com.au domain if the name relates to their trading name, for example. In recent years Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has been criticised for his proposal to introduce an internet filter.

By contrast co.nz has no restrictions on who can register there.

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500,000 .nz registrations

September 11th, 2012 at 1:11 pm by David Farrar

The .nz Internet domain had its 500,000th registration today.  It shows how long I have been involved that I recall the party to celebrate 100,000 registrations. I also recall some people were projecting the number of registrations would level off at around 120,000.

What pushed the registrations over the limit was the launch of kiwi.nz today. Within 15 minutes there were over 1,000 registrations which is more than double the minimum target of 500 set for the sub-domain to be created.

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Have your say on .nz domain names

August 27th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The .nz Domain Name Commission Ltd is consulting on whether registrations should be allowed at the 2nd level. This means that people would be able to register (for example) farrar.nz rather than have to choose a third level name such as farrar.co.nz or farrar.net.nz etc. This would be the most significant policy change to .nz since it was created in 19870.

People can make formal submissions at the above link until 27 September. But there will also be five public meetings, at which you can come along to learn more about the proposal, and provide feedback. The South Island meetings were last week but the details for the other three are:

  • Wednesday 29 August, 5.00 – 6.30pm, Rydges Hotel, Auckland
  • Tuesday 4 September 5.00-6.30pm, James Cook Hotel, Wellington
  • Wednesday 5 September 5.00-6.30pm, at  www.R2.co.nz/20120905

Incidentally I’m a Director of the DNCL, and will be chairing those three meetings. The purpose of the meetings is not just to get feedback on whether people support or oppose the opening up of second level registrations, but also feedback on the specifics of the proposal such as the sunrise period, the conflicts policy etc.

If you would like to attend please RSVP to the DNC team at info@dnc.org.nz or phone            04 495 2110.

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kiwi.nz approved

August 25th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

InternetNZ has announced:

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) is pleased to announce that it has approved the creation of a new second level domain in the .nz domain name space – .kiwi.nz. This expands the range of choice New Zealanders have in the domain name market and means that people will soon be able to register personalised domain names ending in .kiwi.nz.

The implementation of .kiwi.nz is being managed by InternetNZ’s subsidiary company the Domain Name Commission Ltd. Authorised .nz registrars will be able to take registrations for these names from 10am on Tuesday, 11 September 2012.

I might apply for blog.kiwi.nz :-)

The threshold set for kiwi.nz to be established is 500 registrations in the first month. So from 11 September to 11 October you will be able to pre-apply for a kiwi.nz name – if you want one. If more than 500 applications are received, then kiwi.nz will be created. It is effectively a market mechanism, to establish if there is suffucient demand.

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New gTLDs

June 15th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

ICANN has announced the details of the 1,930 applications for new gTLD strings. 1,409 unique strings have been applied for by 1,153 different organisations. Some such as .blog have as many as nine applicants for it. Ultimately they will go to an auction if the bidders cannot agree amongst themselves.

Some of the more unusual or interesting applications (considering it costs around $200,000 to apply) are:

  • .africamagic
  • .bananarepublic
  • .blackfriday
  • .cashbackbonus
  • .chloe
  • .dotafrica
  • .fyi
  • .ira
  • .ketchup
  • .kiwi
  • .love
  • .now
  • .porn
  • .republican
  • .rip
  • .rsvp
  • .sex
  • .silk
  • .transformers
  • .vip
  • .you
  • .zero

There is still a long way to go before these will appear in the DNS. Governments and others can object to various strings. ICANN estimates it will take 9 – 20 months for an application to be approved and delegated into the DNS.

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Should .nz domain names be available at the second level?

May 30th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Domain Name Commission Ltd has published:

The Domain Name Commission is proposing to extend the .nz domain name space by allowing anybody to register domain names at the ‘second level’.  This has the potential to significantly alter New Zealand’s domain name space so it’s important we get your views.

This is a proposal for consultation, so the DNCL is keen to get views and submissions from people. Note I am a Director of the DNCL.

Basically the change means that (for example) Trade Me could try and register trademe.nz rather than trademe.co.nz. For individuals such as MPs, it could mean they could get (again for example) simonbridges.nz rather than have to decide whether to get simonbridges.co.nz or simonbridges.net.nz or simonbridges.org.nz etc.

Note that the proposal is not to close registrations in the existing sub-domains such as co.nz, org.nz. The proposal is that people have a choice of registering at the second level or at the third level, or both.

They key features of the proposal are:

  • Registration of .nz domain names could be at the second or third levels on an ongoing basis.
  • Existing second level domains (such as .co.nz) will remain and continue to be supported.
  • There will be no impact on any currently registered .nz domain names.
  • Registrations at the second level will be on a “first come, first served” basis, except during the Sunrise Period and where there are currently multiple registrations of the same name in different second level domains.
  • The Sunrise Period will be a designated window, where existing .nz domain name holders (registrants) can register their domain name/s at the second level if they are the only one that has that name at the third level.
  • If two or more domain name holders have the same name at the third level, no-one  will be able to register that name at the second level unless they obtain the consent of the other third level name holders. Alternatively, if all agree, it could become a second level domain instead.
  • A temporary amendment to the Dispute Resolution Service Policy to cover sub-domains of generic domain names registered at the second level.

There is a consultation paper online here. I encourage those with an interest in this to read the paper, and hopefully respond to it.

Each section of the Consultation Paper raises specific questions.  Please respond to these questions or, more generally, to any of the issues raised through the online response from athttps://www.research.net/s/dnc_consultation1

Submissions can also be made by email to policies@dnc.org.nz, by fax to (04) 495 2115, or by mail to P O Box 11881, Wellington.  The closing date for submissions is midday on Thursday 27 September 2012. 

More links and info are on this page.

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Guest Post: 10 Crazy Online Ideas That Prove You Can Make Money Out Of Anything

July 24th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Dmitry of PickyDomains.Com:

1. Million Dollar Homepage

If I had to pick THE craziest idea for making money online, this would be one. A 21 year old student decided to raise money for college by selling pixels on his website. Alex Tew, that is. And, as they say, the rest is history. Alex got his college money and more – over a million dollars, media attention and countless interviews. Copycat sites immediately popped up and… failed all. Maybe this is the reason why we no longer hear about Alex Tew – all his new projects were variations of MDH. Time for a gradschool?

2. ShitMyDadSays

To some cranky father is a source of irritation. To Justin Halpern it was his ticket to stardom. Justin, a struggling comedy writer himself, had to move in back with his parents. His father just would not stop yapping about anything and everything, so Justin decided to start a Twitter account just for father’s words of wisdom. In just 30 days Justin’s microblog was mentioned on The Daily Show. It didn’t take for sitcom and book deal to materialize soon after that.

3. PickyDomains.com
We are all good at something. Dmitry Davydov was good at naming things. Anything, really. So he decided that he might as well make a career out of it. Dmitry started offering people a deal they could not refuse – I’ll come up with a cool domain, name or slogan for you, and you pay me $50, if you like it. And if you don’t – pay nothing. No risk involved. The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story and Dmitry was swamped with orders, so he created crowdsourcing naming service called PickyDomains.com that operates via the same risk free principles.

4. BugMeNot.com
Don’t you hate when free sites, like NYTimes.com or YouTube require registration for full access? It bugged the hell out of Guy King. Unlike others, Guy decided to do something about it, so he started BugMeNot.com in 2003, a free web service that instantly provides logins and passwords for free sites to folks who do not want to waste their time on registration. BugMeNot got really popular after 2004, when Wired magazine reported on efforts to get the site shut down by the dark corporate forces that insist on registration, so they can send spam the hell out of it. But the light has won. BugMeNot has since branched out into similar niches, like RetailMeNot.com.

5. Doggles.com
There are some certainties in this life and one of those is “dogs don’t need sunglasses”. Sunglasses for dogs? That’s the stupidest invention ever. It is also the one that generated millions of dollars for Ken and Roni di Lullo. Doggles are now sold in (hold onto something) 4500 different shops in 16 different countris! One thing I do admit though – dogs look cool in doggles.

6. GeesePoliceInc.com
Chasing geese may sound like a metaphor, but it’s not for David Marcks, who makes $2 million dollar a year, well, chasing geese away. What’s his story? Back in the eighties, David worked at a golf course that suffered from “the geese problem” (read too much bird poop on golf balls). He could not kill the birds, but he did take note of the fact that his dog, a border collie, was good at chasing them away. He now owns 27 trucks and 32 dogs that do just that – chase geese away from private and public properties for money.

7. FindAGrave.Com
Have you ever heard of ‘tombstone tourism’, i.e. visiting graves of famous people, because you like visiting graves of dead people? To Jim Tipton it was a weekend well spent. One problem, though – he lived in Utah, a state not known for great population densities (dead or living), so he basically ran out of (dead) celebrities to visit. So he started FindAGrave.Com, a site that helps you locate a grave of any person in US. The hobby soon turned into a big business, providing multiple paid services, like genealogy research. “I see dead people” ©.

8. ShoppingCartAbuse.Com
Plain and simple, this one is impossible to explain, but the site has a cult following and more than likely started as a college prank. For some reason, the owner(s) of this one prefer anonymity. Here is a description the site provides – “The Center for Prevention of Shopping Cart Abuse is an organization dedicated to preventing the pervasiveness of Shopping Cart abuse”. Prank or not, ShoppingCartAbuse.com t-shirt became a must have fashion accessory for 2010 with several Hollywood celebrities spotted in one.

9. WheresGeorge.com
If you know this site, the owner profession should not be a surprise. No, Hank Eskin isn’t an accountant. He is a database consultant. Who else would think that punching serial numbers for dollar bills into a big online database is fun? If you are new to Where’s George, here is how it works. First, you log onto WheresGeorge.com and enter your zip code and bill serial number(s). Then spend your money and hopefully some other person will do the same – enter bill serial number and zip code into the database. As of this month, Where’s George is tracking 192,623,138 bills totalingUS$1,040,594,634. This means that millions of people have logged onto Where’s George to find out where their money has been.

10. SantaMail.org
Male lifecycle is defined as “first you believe in Santa Clause, then you don’t, then you are one.” Byron Reese must have taken that literally, because in 2002 he decided to start Santa Mail, a website that that lets kids to send letters to the North Pole. There is a little twist, however, parents pay $9.95 to make sure little Johnny or Jane get a personalized letter back from the “big man” himself. Last year Santa Mail had responded to over 300,000 children. Multiply that by $10 and you get the picture.

I like the business model for pickydomains – using crowdsourcing to come up with ideas for domain names for businesses. Allows those with a creative bent to make some money, and those looking for a good name to get ideas cheaply.

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New top level domains are coming

June 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

It’s taken 15 years or so, but finally there is a clear process for peope to be able to apply for and create new top level domains such as .com.

ICANN has announced:

ICANN’s Board of Directors has approved a plan to usher in one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet’s Domain Name System.   The Board vote was 13 approving, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.

During a special meeting, the Board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) — from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net. …

ICANN will soon begin a global campaign to tell the world about this dramatic change in Internet names and to raise awareness of the opportunities afforded by new gTLDs. Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.

It will cost around US$200,000 to apply but it is expected hundreds will, maybe thousands. I’d say a .blog TLD is highly likely, and one may even see a .kiwi emerge.

To some degree ICANN was set up to solve the problem of who decides what new top level domains are created, and what the criteria will be. As I said it has taken 15 years to get to this point, where people can apply under a clear policy and process.

The retiring chair of ICANN is New Zealander Peter Dengate-Thrush. It is not a coincidence that this happened on his watch, as Peter has led ICANN through the hazards of opponents of new TLDs – mainly the intellectual property industry and certain Governments.

If .blog is created, I’ll certainly try to get kiwi.blog. Likewise if there is a .kiwi I might try for blog.kiwi :-)

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US seizure of domain names

February 7th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Debbie Monahan, the .nz Domain Name commissioner, blogs:

If Kiwis needed any further evidence of the value of a .nz name, hosted in New Zealand, recent stories about US Homeland Security seizing domain names held by non-US organisations should provide it. The most recent of these is a Spanish name which the courts in Spain had declared legal at the end of their legal process but which was seized by Homeland Security anyway.
http://www.expertulpc.com/tech/homeland-security-seizes-spanish-domain-name-that-had-already-been-declared-legal-01028101

This is a worry. The domain name is question was rojadirecta.org and it is registered to a Spanish company, was found to be legal by two Spanish courts, and was hosted on Spanish servers.

However the .org registry is in the United States, and even though it is meant to be a generic global domain (the US has .us), a US government agency has managed to get the domain name yanked.

In addition to the benefit of a .nz domain name identifying New Zealand, .nz Registrants also have a policy framework that protects Registrants rights and ensures that organisations like the US Homeland Security can’t just come in and seize a .nz name.

I never thought of this as a benefit of .nz, but freedom from US Homeland Security can now be added to the list.

(Note I am a director of the .nz Domain Name Commission Ltd)

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.nz domain name growth

January 26th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

One of the things I follow quite intently is growth in domain names – both internationally, but also especially in the .nz top level domain.

One of the reasons for my interest, is I am a director of .nz Registry Services that runs the register for the .nz TLD. But I am also interested in what they may mean generally for Internet uptake and more recently the health of the economy.

For the last six years or so, there has been almsot ever increasing growth in .nz domain name registrations.

nz1

As uou can see, the growth has been rather healthy. But in the last year, the market has changed. It is still growing, but by far less than before.

nz2

So annual growth in .nz names has dropped from over 50,000 to under 35,000 and still declining.

nz3

Looking at the last few years in terms of percentage annual growth, we hit 25% around two years ago, and it is now down to just 10%. Now 10% annual growth is still pretty good – many businesses would give their right arm for it. But it is interesti ng trying to work out why the growth has reduced so much.

Is it everyone is now connected? Is it the best names are all gone? Is it the recession? That’s some of the quesions I’m grappling with.

One interesting thing is that the drop in growth seems to be due to increased cancellations of existing names, than a large drop off in registrations of new names. So some of it may be speculators reducing their stocks. Or it may be businesses just rationalising their portfolios.

At the end of the day the cost of a domain name is insignificant to most customers. The wholesale fee is $1.50 a month. So how elastic or inelastic is the market I wonder?

The other interesting aspect is competition. If you want a .nz domain name you can choose from around 70 different registrars or retailers, but they all interface with the unique register (it is a naturaly monopoly because you can have only one authoritative register). But people can choose to get a .com, .net, .info etc.  In some countries more registrants have a .com name than a .countrycode name. In NZ we have one of the higher country loyalties with most registrants having a .nz name over a .com.

If you are a domain name registrant, and you have been changing or reducing your “portfolio”, I’d be interested in any  stories as to why.

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