Here We Go Again… Another New gTLD Registry Practice to Navigate

It seems like only yesterday when ICANN opened up the application process for the new gTLD Program, but amazingly, it was actually almost four years ago! To date, over 750 new gTLDs have been added to the root zone…an incredible number when you think about the landscape previously, which had less than two dozen gTLDs.

In Dublin, it was clear that this initial gTLD round is nearing an end as ICANN is going through the process of contracting and delegating the remaining strings. Even as that activity is ongoing, the work to review the overall launch of the gTLD program has already begun. Next year, policy work will most likely begin on the next round of gTLDs.

To date, I think this round has been relatively successful compared to how it could have played out with such a large number of new gTLDs being rolled out. We managed to introduce hundreds of new gTLDs without breaking the Internet! It could have been much worse.

Yet, it’s not all flowers and rainbows. There have been some real challenges. We didn’t realize how complex navigating things like premium names would be. Names being held back on collision lists weren’t envisioned when we started this process. Early access programs didn’t exist previously so all of us have had to look at the timing of registering domains.

And we have seen some pretty controversial practices amongst registry operators. Everyone recalls the kerfuffle over .sucks. And now we have a new registry practice being introduced that we didn’t foresee when the program was first announced.

The registry operator behind .feedback has decided that just because you pay to register a domain name does not mean you should actually be able to use said domain name. Unless the registrant of each .feedback domain pays a monthly fee (totaling several hundred dollars a year) to actually be able to point the domain to content of their choosing (or no content), the registry will automatically forward every .feedback domain to a registry run feedback forum site. That’s right, you are now expected to pay to register the domain and then pay to manage where that domain name resolves. Oh and the same registry operator will run several other gTLDs as well, so I expect a similar model to follow.

It’s a new business model for sure, and one that I’m sure will get people talking (I did a fair amount of talking about it in Dublin), but we will offer it to clients…I’m not very happy about it but I understand it. Of course, we won’t encourage folks to register .feedback domains, but we will make it available to customers that are compelled to protect their brands. I hope that’s not many of you.

While it’s encouraging to see the new gTLD program move into the final stages with relative success, things like this latest new registry model underscore the importance of the ICANN review of this round. It’s critical for brand owners to voice their opinions on how impactful the program has been to them. For better or worse, new gTLDs are a reality and they are only going to expand in the future.

If you’d like to discuss .feedback specifically or the program in general, I’m always happy to speak directly about these things.