It’s taken us a little while to get round to posting on this issue – mainly because we took the blog offline around the time the news broke.

Anyway, you might well have seen by now that ICANN (the organisation responsible for managing the internet’s domain name system) has apparently given the go ahead for the creation of lots of new top level domains (TLDs).

A TLD is the part of a domain name which comes after the final dot. For instance, .com, .uk and .net are all TLDs.

The policy from ICANN suggests that there could be a free market for TLDs – so we could see domain names ending in anything. It mans companies could turn their brands into web addresses, or geographic areas could be given TLDs – .nyc and .london domains have both been suggested as possibilities.

However, you might need to think twice before setting up your name as a TLD because it looks like applying for one could cost more than $100,000. And that will probably be a non-refundable fee, so if your TLD is turned down, you’ll be seriously out of pocket.

Having said that, these changes are billed as a liberalisation, and it looks like new TLDs would only be refused for one of two reasons:

  • The proposed TLD looks dubious on moral or public order grounds.
  • There is substantial opposition from a community which the TLD is targeted at.

These subjective measures seem quite open to interpretation, so if this does all go ahead it will be interesting to see how it works in practice.

A waste of time?

Suggestions have come from more than one quarter that this whole thing is a waste of time. More TLDs will simply create more confusion. Businesses will have to register additional domains to protect their brand, and people trying to find websites will frequently type in the wrong URL and end up at the wrong place.

However, on the other side of the fence, it is true that as the number of registered addresses grows, the number of good available domains is naturally shrinking. It’s by no means impossible to find decent domains at the moment, but it is getting a little harder.

A choice of more TLDs could give businesses and individuals the opportunity to find their ideal address, rather than having to settle for the second best version of a .com or .co.uk domain. More TLDs would mean there’s more internet real estate to go around, and that could ease the demand for memorable .com and .co.uk domains.

Another important point is that these liberalised addresses could be available in any alphabet. So, for instance, a Russian TLD could be in the Cyrillic alphabet. Along with internationalised domain names (where the whole domain is in a non-Latin alphabet) this would almost certainly be good news for countries which don’t use the Latin alphabet.

Desirability

However, for us the big question is whether introducing a whole load of new TLDs will have any impact on the desirability of long-established TLDs like .com and .co.uk.

Looking up the take up of relatively-new TLDs, like .jobs or .travel, we suspect that making more TLDs available could actually make .com and .co.uk domains even more sought after. After all, these are instantly-recognisable, well-respected TLDs.

We could end up with a two-tier system where a few first-class TLDs (like .com) are highly desirable and the rest are seen as second best. The challenge for any new TLD will be making the leap into that small group of highly-desirable, highly-recognisable domains.

What do you think of the proposals? Would you be tempted to create your own TLD? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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21 Responses

  • domain dude

    kudos on the website, it’s really easy to use

    July 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm
  • Mr. T

    I pity the fool who creates his own TLD – it’s difficult enough to find decent registrars selling slightly unusual country TLDs (like .it). Would be difficult to bring a TLD to the market I reckon, as most registrars probably won’t bother unless it’s a really good one.

    July 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm
  • Graham

    This is a cool wordpress blog 123-reg !!!

    BTW it would be even cooler if you gave recognition to this fact by leaving a “Powered by WordPress” link to http://www.wordpress.org . Spread the WP love dont hide it ;-)

    -G-

    July 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm
  • Sean, Web Design UK

    If registration is handeled anything like the .me domain extenstion there will indeed be alot of confusion ;)

    Geo-targeted domain like .tokyo would be cool…
    A never ending stream of new extensions not so much! Too much fragmentation imo

    July 18, 2008 at 6:00 pm
  • Douglas McPherson

    I reckon its just another way of ripping off us poor co.uk domain owners who as it is get little or no recognition as it is, as .scotland woul b good however and long overdue it would undoubtedly do our tourism trade wonders

    July 18, 2008 at 6:04 pm
  • Christian Jose

    I see this as a big problem, currently, any individual or business can use any unallocated TLD on their intranet in order to make it easy to manage their internal systems. I personally, use a 2 character TLD that has not been assigned and my caching web proxy forwards all non-internal lookups to my ISP.

    However, what happens if someone registers my TLD, I have to change. What happens if one company registers it’s initials as a TLD and then another company with the same initials objects? Or will we start to see crazy, long, full company names as TLDs?

    Take a previous employer of mine, CSC Computer Sciences. .csc makes sense (how about http://www.uk.csc) but how many other companies or individuals use those same initials? Let’s face it http://www.uk.csccomputersciences is silly but it’s the only way of stopping arguments over who has the right to use a particular TLD.

    I can see the point of non-latin charactersets but at the end of the day 99% (probably 100%) of the world’s computers are quite capable of handling latin characters. How am I to visit a website that uses cyrillic characters, unless I follow a link. OK, I probably wouldn’t be able to read and understand the site once I got there but the internet is about linking the world up, sharing not isolating.

    July 18, 2008 at 7:37 pm
  • Eno Nedlog

    I think it a mistake to open the way for any TLDs as it will just open the way for spammers and con artists.

    How will you know if XYZ.CON is part of XYZ.COM or just someone out to CON your trade.

    I say NO GO to a free for all.

    Eno

    July 18, 2008 at 10:59 pm
  • Lee

    What a money spinner…

    ICANN and Nominet already charge £800 for a professional decision on abusive registraton…

    What now.. Go chasing after another 10 TLD’s that have been registered in bad faith.

    Bad enough someone you know registering a .co.uk or .com behind your site to ‘pass off’ as yours and then having to set up a dispute.

    ABSOLUTLY STINKS !!!!!!!

    July 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm
  • ms salsbury

    Hi i have recently bought my domain name from yourselves with hope soon to be a live internet shop, if the other new choice you mention would have been avaliablei would not have chose them, even if they were cheaper, i think mainly because im in the UK hense the choice i made. Although i do think ideas like .travel etc would be good and i would certainly look at them if i found them through a search.
    Hope this has helped.
    kind Regards
    Julie

    July 19, 2008 at 12:29 am
  • Ian McCallum

    I notice that these pages mention companies maybe having to protect their brand by maybe buying up these new so called ” tld’s ” to protect their brand. This is not really applicable, because any company worth their salt will have their brand trademarked anyway, therefore, if someone thinks its a good idea to call their cleaning company for instance ” walt disney cleaners ” and there url was waltdisneycleaners.london, they would find themselves in breach of trademark anyway !

    Also, these domains will be worthless as they will simply highlight that the owners of the domains are either new kids on the block or they were not sharp enough to acquire the recognisable domain in the first place. We only ever advise our clients to purchase .com and .co.uk as any other domain is simply second class and regarded similiarly to one desiring a quality private registration plate but opting for the cheapskate irish alternative (to be used in britain) in a bid to try and fool folks into thinking that they have an expensive plate, yet any business person worth their salt knows, that the folks with the £100 irish plate arent fooling anyone !, so in essence and in comparison, the new tld’s will be pointless and worthless except for the chavs and posers who arent fooling anyone and these new tld’s will simply be regarded as cannon fodder and actually ( boost ) the perceived value and status of the real mccoy ie, .com and .co.uk!

    Also, if your company name is ” McDonald Flooring ” and the top domains are already gone most guys would just make it ” McDonald_Flooring ” and still enjoy the .com domain and not go for anything else, and if there is some ridiculous application fee for these proposed tld’s this fee is not justified.

    So, it goes back to the original and best way to protect your business and that is by way of trademarking and copyright which is as old as the hills, so if your company name or whatever is trademarked it doesnt matter how many tld’s there are!

    In our opinion all this is a waist of time and there are forces trying to drive this into the spotlight in an attempt to glamourise these new tld’s in a bid to capture and convince the publics attention.

    Therefore .com and .co.uk businesses will be seen as established professionals, and the rest simply wont, they will be regarded as those who are simply playing at it, as they are NOT tld’s they are just alternative undesirable domains,and you wouldnt want one of them would you ?

    July 19, 2008 at 6:08 am
  • kezy

    I think you should tell everyone this before selling them a domain name. Rather than sending this bit of info in an email after we have brought one

    July 20, 2008 at 10:44 am
  • cupiddstunt

    As can be seen by the first three posts it appears that net users are very easily confused ;-)

    ‘More Dom’s more confusion?’ was the question, and ‘nice site’ ‘nice blog ware’ and actually one answer on tld’s, well one in three ?… I suppose it could be worse.

    I do not think there can be any ( but financial for ICANN. $100,000 none refundable nice work for those in the big swivel seats ) benefit from adding to the number of dom extensions that we already have I can only see this as a business generating decision and having absolutely nothing to do with common sense. To use an ‘Americanism’ it appears that ICANN are just looking for another way to milk the ‘cash cow’

    July 20, 2008 at 4:09 pm
  • sub@omic

    I’ve traded with a .name tld (www.omic.domain.name) for over five years and haven’t found that it’s caused any issues. When someone encounters it for the first time you occasionally have to repeat your email address and/or web address but that’s not a bad thing because all your doing is simply embedding your brand in their subconscious.

    If contemplating a tld other than .co.uk or .com I think you need to ask yourself ‘how would someone find my website?’. Chances are that many websites will market themselves exclusively online and therefore blogs & Google will be the route to your website risking someone typing the wrong tld into the browser address bar will be less of a concern.

    As a habitual buyer/administrator of domain names for Clients the bottom line for me is whether this shakeup means I need to contract with multiple new registrars and increase my own paperwork?

    Perhaps this is more of a challenge for 123 as you’ll have to work harder to keep us all loyal?

    July 21, 2008 at 9:11 am
  • Kevin

    I been around on the net long enough to know that making sure you get your domain name right to suit your target audience and achieve maximum results means you have to get it right.

    having a open ended tld could create all sorts of mayhem although i see the benefits of such actions this is not ideal for everyone.. you could end up with a multitude of different sites that all look the same. More Duplication more confusion and headaches.

    Personally im against it, I think it could lead to complete failure of the net as we know it due to this new unstructured way of dealing with with website names.

    July 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm
  • Dr Piffe

    It’s potentially a bad idea that will (as others have commented) lead to confusion and ultimately exploitation and possible fraudulent use of existing domain names.
    I should imagine ’419ers’ are already rubbing their hands together in anticipation!!!

    July 29, 2008 at 1:39 am
  • Lee

    They should allow registrations under the .gb ccTLD. After all it is already allocated. (http://www.iana.org/domains/root/db/gb.html)

    August 1, 2008 at 2:21 am
  • Graham

    “As can be seen by the first three posts it appears that net users are very easily confused ;-)”
    cupiddstunt…
    Just wait a minute confused …nahh – I stumbled on this post and err “nice blog ware ” what of course it is but I noted this as a point / grumble that its typical that a company like 123-reg err sorry Pipex oh wrong again – GX networks wouldn’t give credit where its due to wordpress.org !!

    Nothing to do with the registrars of the world trying to make even more real money from virtual real estate. Or is this just “second” life without the membership fee !!!

    Great to see some pick on others comments .. was it worth it really . I dont think so !! 8)

    August 9, 2008 at 11:20 pm
  • proxy

    Very informative article, thank you very much!

    March 8, 2009 at 4:04 am
  • Stewart Engelman Domain Sales

    Hello,

    I agree with all your points. I have made comments on several threads about this topic. I think the biggest issue is end user confusion. If there are ultimately too many TLD’s, domain names will become harder to remember, and may ultimately lead to less use of the internet, which would be bad for everybody.

    August 20, 2009 at 6:01 pm
  • hidenprotect

    Thats really nice, may i post ur link into my blog ?

    October 28, 2009 at 12:41 pm