To Each His Own Domain

For those of you not paying attention over the weekend, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the creation of the first new top-level domain names since the 1980s.

Moving beyond the ubiquitous “.com” TLD, ICANN will reportedly put new industry-specific names into the mix such as “.travel” for travel sites, “.shop” for e-commerce sites, and “.web” for web companies. Right now, no one knows what the new domains will be, but ICANN reports that it will introduce new domains in a “measured and responsible manner” by December 31 of this year.

Many people see this move as one that’ll open up a huge can of worms when it comes to trademark protection online. Is “Yahoo.shop” infringing on “Yahoo.com’s” trademark? Right now no one knows how these disputes will be ironed out, and no one knows how ICANN will prevent businesses from just snapping up all the top-level domains with their own name. Overall, it’s a pretty sticky problem that’s bound to cause untold pain as we all scramble to register new domains and consumers scratch their heads in confusion.

But I see it as a big opportunity to start to inject some truth and order into the whole Net. If ICANN has the guts to actually enforce the naming conventions, consumers will immediately know what the purpose of a site is before visiting it. “Vacations.travel” is pretty obvious, as is “Shoes.store.” It makes perfect sense.

Why stop there? We as a community have an unprecedented opportunity to have our voices heard in something that will affect us and our businesses long into the future. And in an effort to put some sanity into the process, I hereby submit my list of top-level domains that I would like to see implemented by ICANN:

.scam: Why mince words? This domain could house all the get-rich-quick, make-money-fast, lose-weight-in-your-sleep schemes out there that permeate all our inboxes.

.spam: While related to the above TLD, this one would be a larger catchall for legitimate (but annoying) unsolicited email. Email marketers could send all they wanted as long as it was sent from a .spam address. Easy filtering and truth in advertising!

.dead: With all the dot-coms out there going belly-up, why should their domain names lay around confusing people? As part of all court-ordered bankruptcy settlements, defunct dot-coms would be forced to change their domain names to the .dead suffix.

.ipo: For those web-based businesses on the rise, a .ipo domain name would let the world know just what they’re up to.

.myth: We’ve all seen the barrage of urban legends, myths, and spurious information forwarded to us by well-meaning colleagues and friends. Shouldn’t it have a place to live? The .myth TLD would help regular folks recognize that no, bikers are NOT hiding hypodermic needles in Pop Rocks as a gang initiation ritual.

.beg: With the explosion in online fundraising brought about by the current presidential race, why not just get right to the point? Sure, organizations could keep their .org designation, but they’d be forced to put the fundraising portion of the site into a clearly visible .beg domain.

.sucks: Sure, you might think that it would cause trademark issues, but if all sites designed to cast aspersions on major brands, people, or locations kept to their own .sucks domain, the public would clearly be able to tell the difference between the real site and the suck site.

.point/.counterpoint: Who doesn’t love a good debate? On the web, the answer is no one. The web is littered with sites on every conceivable side of every conceivable argument. Clearly relegating these sides into .point and .counterpoint domains could help you simply find a point of view you agree with.

.yawn: Let’s face it… there’s a lot of REALLY boring content out there. It’s irritating when you think you’re headed to neat content only to find that it’s some 5,000-word discussion on earthworms written by an illiterate gerbil. Forcing boring content into its own domain would make surfing much safer for all of us.

.huh: We’ve all come across sites that have no apparent reason for being and no apparent viewpoint of any sort. Head-scratching efforts like these would be relegated to the .huh domain.

.beanie: Why? Because people obsessed with these plush toys are sick and should be quarantined in their own domain. End of discussion.

.wank: With all the multimegabyte Flash sites, “here’s me on my vacation” sites, and gratuitous self-gratification on the web, there’s gotta be a place for annoying self-promotion that is uninteresting to the rest of humanity. The .wank domain would do nicely.

.whine: Yup. Lots of complainers out there. Put ’em here.

.temp: We’ve all seen business plans that seem to have less of a shelf life than homemade mayonnaise at a picnic in August. Why should these businesses get good domains? I say put them in a .temp domain until they start to turn a profit.

.ick: I know I’ve stumbled across some pretty unsavory stuff out there. Why? Why should we unsuspecting seminormal folks be subjected to this stuff? Put it in its own domain, and we’ll know when we’re about to get grossed out.

.jargon: Any site containing more than a 1:10 acronym/word ratio would be forced to live in this domain.

.nut: Black helicopters? Conspiracy theories? UFOs? Procter & Gamble satanic logo exposis? There’s one place for them… the .nut domain.

.stalk: For those obsessed with celebrities or other humans that come into their field of vision, the .stalk domain would provide a handy identification for others with similar interests to gather and share obsessive details.

.metoo: Does the world really need yet another bookstore online, another free email provider, or another free ISP? Undifferentiated businesses would be forced to live in the .metoo domain until their competition goes under.

And, finally…

.ego: For all the dot-snots out there who are currently hyping books, lecture tours, new rounds of funding, killer business plans, or their new cars, the .ego domain would help let the rest of us know what to avoid.

So there you have it… a few humble suggestions on how to turn this new naming opportunity into a benefit for us all. If you have a comment or a suggestion you’d like to share with ICANN (and you can’t convince Ann Handley to publish it on ClickZ), pop on over to ICANN’s public comment forum and let your voice be heard. We’re gonna have to live with this stuff for a long time.

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