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.org Domains to be Handed Back?

By strepsil in News
Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:29:22 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

There's a story running at the Register that I'm surprised hasn't attracted more attention. It seems that Verisign and ICANN have a proposal afoot to return the .org domain to its original purpose (non-profit organisations only) and in the process take registered domain names away from those who don't meet the new criteria.

At least one .org springs to mind that is unlikely to convince people of its non-profit status.

Of course, this could all be a bit of a storm in a teacup. I'm not a lawyer-type-person, so I must admit I got a bit lost when reading the proposals. I'm really hoping someone good at this sort of this could have a calm and rational read-through and come up with a layman's translation.

There are a lot of angry people on the ICANN forum, but not a lot of explanation.


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.org Domains to be Handed Back? | 19 comments (19 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
This could be a double-edged sword (3.75 / 4) (#1)
by psicE on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:25:17 PM EST

In general, this is a good thing; I'd want to go even further and force .com's to be for-profit corporations, .net's to be services, and establish a new domain like .ws for other stuff. As it is, though, this could go both ways. For sites like Slashdot (that already own the .com versions of their names) this is only significant in that they'll have to instruct users to start going to the .com address instead of the .org (which will be handed off to ICANN for the time being). If there's big businesses that own .org names that are common with names of non-profits, this is good because it frees up the name. However, the reverse is also true: if a big business owns a .com and a small business (who came later) owns a .org, and the small business is kicked, they'll have to go to a .net (assuming that wasn't already taken), greatly hurting their recognition (especially if the two similar-named companies are competing).

Overall, I think it's a good thing, but having other regulated domains would help, especially if we forced for-profits to use a domain other than .com :)

And they're sharp edges, too (4.50 / 4) (#2)
by strepsil on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:09:20 PM EST

I think I'm mainly paraphrasing a comment on the ICANN forum here, but ...

It's all well and good to say that things SHOULD have been kept straight in the first place - businesses in .com and .com only, .org for the non-profit organisations - but it didn't happen. They took the quick buck path, and it's a bit nasty to suddenly switch things around now. People have built identities based on their domain names.

It's all well and good to say "Yep, that was wrong", but a change in policy shouldn't affect those people who already have domains, and took them up under the old policies. Restrict new registrations by all means, but leave the old ones in place.

IIRC, that's pretty much what happened with .net.au a few years back. It seemed to work out.

[ Parent ]
Ugh... silly proposal. (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by Holloway on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:10:26 PM EST

Trying to categorise content by TLD is flawed. The millions of sites on Geocities.com should have taught you that. Does anyone actually expect TLD categories to work? Give up - each page can't have it's own TLD.

TLDs aren't cheap - and certainly no one wants to move to slashdot.com just when they're paid a wage and 0wn3d by someone else. They've built up their reputation through the .org after all.

I'm quite warey of anyone wanting the power to move sites about TLD - anyhoo.

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

gTLDs (none / 0) (#13)
by Miniluv on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:26:17 AM EST

What then would you say is the point of having TLDs at all then? Do you understand the concept of gTLDs providing vague, generalized categories under which domain names, and then subdomains and/or hostnames, provide specificity?

You sort of meandered about from hating TLDs to suggesting we can't change them either...what is the answer then?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

gTLD (none / 0) (#15)
by Holloway on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 04:18:23 AM EST

My opinion is the modern-day use of TLDs is in a name[1], name[2], name[3] kinda way - they help make more unique addresses out of the same string.

So far as categories however they have proven to be flawed. No search engine would be stupid enough to limit a search for commercial sites to .com, for example. Geocities.com is another good example. One might say it's the domain owners' fault to not move content to an appropriate TLD but when you consider the pricing of another TLD; the possibility that it's taken; the branding you've built through your current domain and whether there's a TLD that really fits it's understandable not to.

As "generalized categories" they're blunt and pretty darn generalised. I think it's unreasonable to expect the TLD to reflect the domain's content to any degree.

IMO Slashdot.org shouldn't be expected to give up their .org just because they sell banner space and the editors are on a payroll. They've built a readership with that domain - and if they were to give it up that means someone else could buy it and use it. Does this sound right to anyone?

(and if y'll want categories, I think a standardised meta tag thang would be more fine-grained and usable.)

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

So they work (none / 0) (#17)
by Miniluv on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:55:25 PM EST

By your argument then, gTLDs accomplish exactly what they were supposed to do, provide generalized containers for domains based on vague rules of classification.

TLDs were never really intended to convey any sort of notion regarding the content or nature of a site. Instead they were to provide high level, logical groups of domains based on a set of criteria very vaguely laid down by two RFCs. People have, in their minds, built up these concepts of what domain TLDs were intended to convey, such as the misnomer that .org was to be non-profit organisations, rather the real proposed concept of .org being a catch all for everything that didn't neatly fit into another category.

So, I guess I would have to agree with you as to their intent, but disagree if you feel they're "broken".

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Nice RFC (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by Holloway on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 06:17:30 AM EST

After reading your RFC quoting I think you're much more right than me. I was mistaken about the original purpose of .org.

I consider .org, .com, and .net to be like .1, .2, and .3 - though. That's how they're used. I wouldn't hold anyone to moving from a .3 when they're .1, obviously ;)

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

Definitely. (none / 0) (#19)
by Miniluv on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 10:41:22 PM EST

I think your analgoy to .1 .2 .3 is probably one of the clearest I've seen. I do not feel that .com .net or .org are really more than the most general of guides, nor were they ever intended to further some of the other goals people have put forth TLDs as supposedly providing.

I think DNS may be reaching the latter half of it's lifespan, hopefully to be supplanted by something that accomplishes more of the goals we have for DNS, in a more robust, more scalable, and easier to use fashion. The idea of TLDs expanding the name space is both good and bad, and I think that current practices of both the WIPO and ICANN are making it impossible to use them for this goal. It's becoming far too common for a company with absolutely zero UK presence to be granted the right to use .co.uk to further their attempt to "brand" the Internet. Perhaps it's time we start holding these "brand"ing freaks to an alternate definition of branding? I think if people started seeing mental images of Warner Brothers or Microsoft with a red hot shaft of steel in their hand headed for our soft, fleshy buttocks we might protest just a little more vigorously before allowing things like DNS to be folded, spindled or mutilated to advance some business model.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Pro and Con (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by babylago on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:38:17 PM EST

Con: Impact...too...large...must...pull...back. As the holder of a dot-org domain name, paid through 2003, I take issue with this motion. Wihle I don't think the argument that 'They already make enough money' should ever be the only valid reason for supporting a position (hello, Napster!), the fact is that this is a trade monopoly that is not being treated as such by the government. At some point it will come down to who owns the wires, because if worse comes to worst, everything else can be changed. Motions like this are a good litmus test of the critical question: Is there really an 'Internet Community', or is it just a bunch of different interests sharing the same space?

Pro: No more OSDN banner ads on Slashdot or K5. Yay!

[ Blog | Hunnh ]

How about a new TLD, for this purpose only? (none / 0) (#5)
by Blarney on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:41:37 PM EST

It seems to me that there's really no technical obstacle to creating new TLDs - I use OpenNIC DNS now, although there seems to be no list of .bbs, .porn, stuff like that sites to go to. Kind of defeats the purpose....

Anyhow, how about creating a replacement for .org, and stopping all new .org registrations? Maybe take the edge off by letting the old .org people keep their registrations for free, in perpetuity?

Forbidden to commercial use, but available for any noncommercial purpose. Maybe call it .alt or something. Or .ham, like the radio.

"Not for profit" doesn't cover all .orgs (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by ajf on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:13:12 AM EST

My personal domain wouldn't fit into a TLD reserved for "non-profit organisations", as it's only used by me. The main reason I chose .org was because there's no commercial content on there, and I'm not providing any kind of service. (I registered it primarily to have a more permanent email address than whatever my ISP of the day provides.) That left .org as the least inappropriate TLD.

In principle I'd be in favour of a new TLD strictly for non-profit organizations - but how you'd define that internationally I don't know. But even if that's possible, where do domains like mine, or domains set up for hosting web sites belonging to a newsgroup (such as snpp.com which archives posts from alt.tv.simpsons), or anything else that is neither commercial nor an "organization" but is used by an individual or a loose-knit group with no legal status?

It should go without saying that no domain should be revoked until its registration has expired; unless there's a really compelling reason, and I can't see one, no previously registered .org domain should be denied renewal, either.

Either .org should be retained for these

"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]

Who decides...? (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by Miniluv on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:25:21 PM EST

One interesting point...who decides what is and isn't a for profit? Take, for example, Debian Linux. I am not sure if they are registered non-profit organization in the US or not, but if they aren't do they deserve to lose their .org and move to .com? How about out of the US non-profits in countries with no official recognization of non-profit status? Or is ICANN going to default to their usual American-Centric policy stand point and say they ought to incorporate in the US as non-profits to keep their TLD?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
And what country? (none / 0) (#9)
by strepsil on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:43:58 AM EST

Something that I've always wondered about is nationality of your major TLDs. This proposal seems to be stating that .org is only for US non-profits, but it really seems to me that .org really implies international.

Why should US approval enter into it? If this were being applied to a .org.us domain - no problem. But Debian is a great example. What have they got to do with US laws, really? It seems to me that the attitude is almost a "If it's globally relevant, it must be a US thing".

I realise that .org, .net and .com were never really intended to be "global" representations, but it's getting to the point where they're percieved that way. Maybe it's time for .us to start being pushed into usage - but it's probably too late.

[ Parent ]
ICANN standpoint (none / 0) (#10)
by Miniluv on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:49:41 AM EST

The, massively flawed, perspective is that they'll judge non-profit status based on US law. This is only what I have thus far been able to glean from the ICANN website and discussion forum where the big-man-in-charge attempted some spin control and failed rather miserably.

As the Register article quotes, and I agree with, I think the best course of action is to begin flooding the in box of the US Dept of Commerce chief with well thought out, reasonable and rational emails requesting that ICANN be forced not to hand everything in .com and .net over to Verisign before this is figured out and perhaps put to a vote by the Members At Large.

One also has to wonder just what's going on with forcing this through so quickly, the Verisign hand over, considering that a major change in leadership is coming rather soon. Again, the Register hit the nail on the head by noting that people who would most likely not allow this plan to go through will have their hands tied if this isn't stopped hard and fast.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Why .us failed (4.75 / 4) (#14)
by fluffy grue on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 02:15:33 AM EST

.us failed because of its completely asinine deep-hierarchal geographically-minded non-profit-only stance. "If you are non-profit and are willing to have a domainname like mojo.westside.lascruces.nm.us, then you can have a .us domain. Otherwise, you do not deserve our holy TLD." If .us were managed like most of the other ISO country TLDs (.net.au, .co.uk, or just plain .nl, for example), then there wouldn't be nearly the big gTLD problem that there is, since American companies would have two choices like the companies in every other country have.

I do feel that some hierarchal stuff is acceptable (the two-layer hierarchy exhibited by a lot of country-specific TLDs), but a deep hierarchy is bad, and a geographically-based hierarchy (beyond country) is just plain wrong. Do we really want to visit kuro5hin.washington.dc.us? And would we really want to have to change our bookmarks to kuro5hin.sanfrancisco.ca.us now that Rusty's moved? Or would it be based on the location of the server? I don't even know where it is anymore! I mean, hell, the whole Internet isn't a city-specific Yahoo Club or anything. :P Wasn't the whole point to the Internet being a globalization of information? Maybe we should just go to UUCP-style bang paths, while we're at it. "Well, I access Kuro5hin by las-cruces!uu!alter!globix!kuro5hin..."
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

an observation.... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by cybin on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:30:19 PM EST

this may be why this link gets you where you (don't) want to go today. :)

That's a symptom of the problem ... (5.00 / 3) (#8)
by strepsil on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:54:46 PM EST

If the intended use of TLDs was enforced in the first place, this wouldn't have to happen. At the moment, anyone registering a domain name tends to grab (whatever).net, .com and .org so nobody else can get it and use it.

If registrars insisted on you justifying you use, slashdot would never have needed to register their never-used slashdot.com domain, since someone trying to register it would have to show that they had a registered business that related to the name "slashdot". Joe Idiot wouldn't just be able to get out his credit card and grab it. OK - the issue would still exist. It's not hard to register a business and do nothing with it (got a few myself), but it's suddenly not so trivial. I'd like to see (for example) Pepsi convince a properly run registrar that they're both a business (needing .com) and a non-profit group (needing .org) at the same time. And that's how it should be.

Of course, if someone wants to buy a domain name for their company (weeblegadgets.com), isn't it nice for the registrars that it's easy to convince someone that they need weeblegadgets.net and weeblegadgets.org as well. They pay three times for one domain name.

What a great business model.

[ Parent ]
Unworkable (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by LaNMaN2000 on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:15:31 AM EST

In its current form, the proposal is completely unworkable. Should ICANN attempt to regain ownership of domains that have already been licensed years in advance, it will be sued out of existence. The losses suffered by companies like /. that have purchased and promoted their .org domain names should be recoupable.

There will be such an enormous backlash from domain holders that this will never leave the planning stage. Just remember how long it took ICANN to get the new TLDs out--and the decision to open up new TLDs was really a no-brainer.


Lenny Grover -- link-spamming to make Google give me my name back!
What .org has always been for (5.00 / 3) (#12)
by Miniluv on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:23:07 AM EST

There seems to be some confusion in regards to what the .org TLD was "originally" intended for, versus what the proposed amendmant to the contract between ICANN and Verisign would potentially do to it.

RFC1591 specifically addresses the TLDs currently in use and their categorizations.

ORG -This domain is intended as the miscellaneous TLD for organizations that didn't fit anywhere else. Some non-government organizations may fit here.
Nothing there specifies any profit or non-profit status being inherent to the .org TLD.

RFC920 touched on the issue as well, with the following:

ORG = Organization, any other domains meeting the second level requirements
Second level requirements being common to all domain registrys, and containing such things as a central responsible body, robust resolution facilities, and so forth.

To my interpretation this essentially means that there is no previous intention that .org be anything other than what it is now, a clearinghouse for everything that doesn't belong as a .net, .com, .edu or .gov. Many people are suggesting that perhaps a .NPO would be appropriate to add, rather than having to enter into a sticky situation with .org. I'm indifferent to the idea of creating another gTLD to deal with what appears to be a non-existant problem. Non-existant provided the current situation is dealt with professionally and with appropriate consideration given to the circumstances leading up to the present state of affairs with domain registration.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

.org Domains to be Handed Back? | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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