The hidden truth about new generic TLDs

Written on 08 May, 2008 by Netregistry
Categories DomainsNews

A growing number of domain registries have been leaning towards jazzing up generic Top-Level-Domains (TLDs) by replacing the recognised .com .net and .org with a subject defining ending. For example, there has been a recent push for ICANN (the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to introduce .xxx for adult only websites.

In theory this approach does seem practical. Type in .shop and a website related to shopping appears. Type in .mp3 and you can download the latest music. Catching up on the weekend sports scores; type in .sport.There are infinite possibilities, prompting the question of why ICANN hasn’t used a relationship between web content and domain names before.

Why creating content driven TLDs can’t work

The idea is simple and appears effective. Yet in practice, category based TLDs would almost certainly be pointless and unsuccessful.

One of ICANN’s prime functions is to ensure the prolonged stability of the Internet. This stability relies on the relative simplicity of the current Domain Name System (DNS). By creating TLDs that effectively create a myriad of group filters, the complexity of the system is increased and thus, with the greater chance of error, becomes more unstable.

What’s more is the direct challenge category specific TLDs would be to the diverse nature of the web. The Internet is ultimately successful due to its decentralised make-up. Currently it allows for open freedom to information. However a strict correlation between content and domain names would allow barriers to be created, severely hampering that freedom.

Internet growth and TLDs

Categories would also change over different times and places. It would be extremely hard to create global labels that appease all communities of people. For example the notion of .mp3 was completely foreign fifty years ago and still is to certain areas of the world. In another fifty years the concept will have evolved again meaning even more categories will be needed to compensate for the evolution. The whole process of trying to keep up with changing technologies and attitudes with the endless creation of filters would cause the net to become progressively less and less universal.

Even if ICANN was to allow the development of these TLDs, it is hard to see domain registrants all over the world moving to purchase new domain names appropriate to their sites’ particular category.

Not only would this be cost deficient for businesses needing to purchase multiple domain names, it would create a disparity between those using the old system and those with the new.

The current IP addresses have successfully created fair competition between domains because each site is read and located irrespective of what the site visually displays.

Category based TLDs and the market today

Category specific TLDs are already being tested by a small percentage of web users and the results have been far from smooth sailing. Unless the computer and the ISP have specially downloaded software, the processor will be unable to resolve the domain.

Although the dotcom bubble of the late-nineties is a distant memory, .com is still by far the most popular and recognised TLD on the market. There are no conditions of use, it is cheap to acquire and the danger of content driven domains has had little tangible impact on its success.

When considering registering a domain, be extremely wary of the new .shop, .sport, .whatever fad because the results will not be as favourable as they appear.