The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international body that regulates this whole big Internet, released its list of applicants for new .com alternatives today.
Some of them were obvious (.amazon), some of them were LOL (.sucks), and some of them were literally LOL (.lol).
In honor of ICANN, please listen to Nas' motivational 2003 single "I Can" while we discuss.
First off, the only people who will call these things ".com alternatives" or, even more hilariously, "suffixes," are people like me who do not understand the Internet.com. To people who know what's going on, they are "top-level domains." That's the term you should use if you're trying to sound informed or not get laid.
Right now the list of top-level domains is pretty small. .com, .org, .net, .info, .xxx, and a couple other weird ones (.aero?), plus a whole host of country code domains, like .it for Italy and .za for Zouth Africa.
Back in January, ICANN announced that it would begin accepting proposals for new suffixes through April 12, though it later extended the deadline to May 30, after a major glitch on the original deadline day allowed some users to see other applicants' data. (Oh, Internet.)
As for the process itself, The Washington Post explains that "bidders had to answer 50 questions covering such things as what a proposed suffix will be used for and what kind of financial backing the company or organization has," at the time of their submission. Also, each submission cost $185,000, which is why the list doesn't include things like .butts, .stoopid, .pippasbuttlol, etc. (.etc would have been a good one to propose, but it doesn't look like anyone did.)
You might say to yourself "Lord Jesus, why would anyone want to pony up $185,000 to buy .americanexpress when americanexpress.com gets the job done just fine?"
The main draw seems to be security.
Here's how Roland LaPlante, senior vice president of Afilias, a company that applied for hundreds of the new top level domains
(including .shiksa – mazel tov) [EDIT: It wasn't .shiksa but .shiksha, which means .shiksa is still available — gogogo] for itself and on behalf of other companies, explained it to NPR:
"They'll have complete control of what goes on in their top-level domain. And that means, in those domains, there will be no SPAM, no phishing, no malware, none of the other evil things that are happening on the Internet today. So there's a big security benefit to having your own top level domain, particularly if counterfeiting has been an issue for you."
Accordingly, critics said that the new policy would force every company to apply for a top level domain in order to defend their brands.
ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom points out that that didn't happen at all; the full list released today contains fewer than 2,000 proposals, and 50 of those (.book, .buy, .circle) were from Amazon alone.
ICANN has also stated it plans to set up a "trademark clearinghouse" where companies can register their brands without buying top-level domains to prevent copyright infringement or fraud.
One of the major snags that will have to be worked out before the new domains can be implemented involves proposals from multiple companies for the same suffix (.blog is a very hot commodity, apparently). It's anticipated that ICANN will hold auctions to determine who wins the rights for those cases.
In total, the first batch of new names (they'll be reviewed in groups of 500) isn't expected to go live until 2013 at the earliest – and people are saying the whole process could take years to fully implement.
In the meantime, these were the highlights from today's Big Reveal:
- company called "Knob Town LLC" applying for the domain .ACCOUNTANTS
- a company called "Dog Bloom LLC" applying for the domain .SUCKS
- a company called "Binky Frostbite LLC" applying for .CREDITCARD
Unfortunately, it turns out these were just randomly generated by a computer on behalf of a single Web registry company called Donuts, Inc.