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John Gilmore and Maddog Hall discuss .ORG bids 117

TreyHarris writes "Over on SAGEwire, we have posted an email exchange between John Gilmore (EFF cofounder) and Jon "maddog" Hall (Executive Director, Linux International) about the .ORG bids. It's a fascinating read, and goes much further into depth about the issues than I've seen on any news site thus far."
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John Gilmore and Maddog Hall discuss .ORG bids

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  • by YoJaUta ( 67458 ) on Sunday August 25, 2002 @02:00PM (#4136983)
    Just let me know when Eritrea (.er) wants to start selling domains.

    Just imagine...

    And a whole slew of naughty ones.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) < minus distro> on Sunday August 25, 2002 @02:00PM (#4136984) Homepage Journal
    Well I'm spending $6 a year for domains now, but $0.25 certainly does sound nice.

    HOWEVER, I do like the nothing I spend for dugnet.oss (ref OpenNIC [])

    • I love OpenNIC! (Score:3, Informative)

      OpenNIC is the greatest! All those additional domains, the public-spiritedness of it all, plus the OpenNIC DNS servers, even the bottom rung ones, are so much faster than the ones provided by my ISP!

  • Keep it high! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Sunday August 25, 2002 @02:05PM (#4137001) Homepage Journal
    Come on, folks, who's kidding who? If the price of .org goes down, it won't mean more nonprofits could afford'd mean more bandwagon domain prospectors and more work for ICANN, who obviously CANN'T handle the load they have now.

    I have about six .org domain names. I bought them at $15 each per year. If .org dropped to $6, I would have about a hundred -- every possible abbreviation and misspelling I could think of. And I'm just one guy, running what used to be a web hosting co-op.

    If anything, we need to jack up the price on .org. Organizations are not starving so much that they can't afford $15...hell, a single mailing costs more than ten times that, and it's about the price of two hours of one guy telemarketing. What .org needs is something to cause it to rise above commercial domains. If the price was more like $100 per domain, it would give more credibility to the domain holder as there would be less impetus to snipe these expensive domains.

    Oh, and while we're at it, the profits from the additional price shouldn't go to a company. They should go to a serious of non profits, selected by the members when they register. EFF and FSF could be on the top of the list ;).
    • Re:Keep it high! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I would rather see no speculation in domain names, and no domains registered by anyone who isn't ready to use them, which would make domains much easier to get for people who are ready to use the. However, if the price goes up, it isn't going to stop speculation by companies, it's just going to stop average people from registering domains they have good ideas for. So, instead of all the domains being taken, but many of them being taken by average people who might use them or give them up if they're not going to use them, all the domains will be taken, and all by well funded companies who will never use them for anything but making money, and never give them up if they don't. I think the current price strikes a good balance. Not so low that people register everything, but not so high that average people can't register domains for possible future use. I would, however, like to see more of the proceeds go to organizations that support network standards and infrastructure, and not to private companies who just happen to have won the ICANN lottery.

    • Re:Keep it high! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday August 25, 2002 @02:50PM (#4137139)
      I really think you are completely wrong here.

      #1, you shouldn't be allowed to register "all the mis-spellings you can think of". You should have to be a valid non-profit organization.

      #2, it is obvious to me that the purpose of your buying these domains is to be annoying. There is absolutely no valid reason to have a "misspelling" registered other than to be a pain in the ass.

      I registered with my friend. It's a Grateful Dead reference. We are actually non-profit. It's not a misspelling and it isn't for any reason other than for me to have a webpage and valid name to ssh to.

      If I have to start paying $100 just to stop idiots like you from registering shit that would make me even MORE annoyed than I already am about the prices.

      It's people like you that ruin it for the rest of us.
      • Re:Keep it high! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ian Bicking ( 980 )
        Defining "non-profit" seems very difficult to me. 503c? That's pretty difficult to get -- it takes quite a while (generally at least a year, I believe), and there's quite a few formal requirements. Because of that, a lot of new non-profit-like organizations attach themselves to a 503c, who collects money for them and performs other (mostly financial) services. But then one 503c will have to own many domains.

        Anyway, 503c is silly to require -- it's US-only, and doesn't cover a significant portion of actual "organizations". is not a "valid non-profit organization", it's personal, and those aren't the same things (it also doesn't have any valid connection to the Grateful Dead -- it would be more appropriate for you to use your own name).

        If not formally non-profit, what then? Perhaps you could ban for-profit corporations from .org. Corporations obviously could get a 503c designation if they were validly non-profit (or the not-for-profit designation which is slightly different). This might work okay, and a "corporation" is a well-defined international concept.

        But it's still difficult to determine what the limit for domain names registered would be. There are innumerable valid reasons for one organization/person to own multiple domains. Where would you draw the line?

        Mostly, if we could get rid of blatantly invalid domain registrations (e.g., mispellings that point to those stupid search engines) and domains that are registered but not used (or have "under construction" for two years), then it would probably be a lot better. Of course, keeping aggressive trademark owners from manipulating the system is also important.

        This is difficult as long as individuals have access to the system, as the system would continue to be manipulated by multi-level marketing companies, who work "through" individuals for their nefarious (or rather annoying) schemes.

        And there's nothing wrong with registering a misspelling, so long as it's a misspelling of a domain you own (which I think is what the original poster is refering to). At a certain point it gets silly, but sometimes it is important (for instance, if you used, you'd probably also want, as it's hard to remember the difference between the two).

      • You are not a non-profit ORGanisation just because you are not making a proift. Being an organization is part of it, despite of the fact that americans are too lazy to be bothered to spell it out.
        By your rationale any organization that is not turning a profit, which in light of current economic trends is about any commercial entity, can pick up a .org?
    • The problem is not the price. And BTW, I think there is a certain immorality in charging 100 USD for something that only cost a company 6 cents. The problem is that domain registration is being abused because the domain registrars aren't required to keep real records on people registering them. If you made them do this then spammers, speculators and all the other parasites of the Web would disappear. That would give more credibility to the domain owners, not jacking up the price

      • The accountability aspect of keeping real information on hand for abuses of a domain name is great, except it seems to me that most spam nowadays doesn't use domain names. Instead, they fake an email address, then embed an obfuscated IP addresses, which most spam recipients do not (or can not) decode to get back at the identities of the spammer / company that paid the spammer.
        • My company is the victim of a going on 6 month 'joe-job'. I have literally looked at thousands of spams of all shapes and colors. The great majority of these spams are from losers who pay the spamming agency that's joe-jobbing us. These people use real domain names in almost _all_ of the spams that I have seen. When you consult the 'whois' database the contact information is usually bogus - telephone numbers 999-9999 - addresses like '1 Anonymous St.' - towns like 'Shapeless Mass.' and crap like that.

          It seems totally logical to me that these losers would dry up and blow away over night after they contemplated the possibility of being lynched if they had to _by law_ provide real contact information.

          The obfuscaters are tougher, but from my unfortunately _vast_ experience with this, they are the minority.

    • excellent point. You paid $15 for a .org. I paid $12. I also pay 10/month for hosting ($120 a year). Granted, a non-profit may get free hosting from a local isp, but the cost of registering a domain name isn't the deciding factor. If you drop it to a $0.25 a domain, you will see a lot of speculating. Trying to limit it to real non-profit orgs (which .org wasn't ever intended to be specifically for) and only allowing one domain/group/indivudual will mean a lot of paperwork, and will push the price back up.
  • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Sunday August 25, 2002 @02:25PM (#4137070) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the whole domain name system is that it has been abused to no end. URLs aren't supposed to make sense; the address box in your web browser is not supposed to be a substitute for a search engine. A good analogy could be made to email addresses. No one expects to be able to email my_neighbor_john@wholived.nextdoor.tome.whenIwas6. com and have it work. Instead, we all have address books so we don't have to remember everyone's email address. Likewise, in the web world, we have bookmarks or Favorites.

    So what should domains be? Well, just what they sound like, "domains" of servers. does this right. They have a web server for and another for Don't want to remember those? Fine, then bookmark and call it "sportz."

    Registering names for domains that will only ever have websites is also extremely stupid. What is at Are there any groups at

    In conclusion, I will concede that the .org domain name is priced as under a monopoly (since it is controlled by one). But you do not need a domain name to have a website. Get a subdomain wherever your site is hosted, and you'll be fine.
    • Very good point, but sorry that is what some non specialist computer users believe. They want to be able to type www.insert organisation We have seen incidents where a UK charity forgot to go for a .org (they had They then ended up in a dispute with a nasty little specimen who owned the .org and dirverted it to porn-sites. They don't really need the .org, but because the owner of the .org (who wanted to sell it) diverted the address, it became important to own that domain, because of all the people who didn't know the full address.

      Yes, perhaps it would be better if we all had domain names without meaning and then relied on indexing services. Great, but how do I find that web site again? Bookmarking is great, but it only works on one computer. How can I tell you to check out or would you rather I told you to check out Especially if xyz was a reasonable form of the name.

      Final point, I hope I catch up with the mod of the poster as troll in m2. Tps12 makes a very good point, he isn't just stiring things.

      • Blockquoth the poster:

        How can I tell you to check out or would you rather I told you to check out Especially if xyz was a reasonable form of the name.

        Um, how about you tell me enough about the site that a Google search brings it up? And the more people who use that search pattern, the higher it appears on my page.

        Maybe what we need is a good protocol for storing and sharing bookmarks.

        • Yes you find my web page via Google, Altavista, Yahoo or whatever, great. Ok, you bookmark it, but how can you tell someone else about the page in meatspace oir over the telephone? xyz is much shorter and to the point.

          I have been involved with a couple of non-profits with web sites. Both are of reasonable size and we often get telephone inquiries. It is much easier to say to somebody over the phone "check out" than some horribly long name.

          • how can you tell someone else about the page in meatspace oir over the telephone? xyz is much shorter and to the point.

            How do you tell someone what your snail-mail address is now?

            You don't think anything of saying, "Apartment 123, West Home Building, 223 Rainier Drive, Rinky-dink Township, Mass. 001728-0013.

            It's all in what you are used to. You are used to, but you don't expect to be able to tell your mother to mail your Christmas present to "joe's house".
            • Misteaks (sic) in Email addresses cause more problems than than with postal addresses. With postal addresses, the postal service does a remarkable job of sorting out ambiguous delivery instructions. If you screw-up an Email address, it gets bounced.

              In any case, the contact info for many organisations now comes from their web pages. For example, if I want to contribute money to the German Red Cross [] for their relief work for those caught out by the flooding, then just look them up on the web, their address is there, as well as how to contribute (incidentally, a good cause as nature can outdo Osama every time).

            • Misteaks (sic) in Email addresses cause more problems than than with postal addresses. With postal addresses, the postal service does a remarkable job of sorting out ambiguous delivery instructions. If you screw-up an Email address, it gets bounced.

              In any case, the contact info for many organisations now comes from their web pages. For example, if I want to contribute money to the German Red Cross [] for their relief work for those caught out by the flooding, then just look them up on the web, their address is there, as well as how to contribute (incidentally, a good cause as nature can outdo Osama every time).

    • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Sunday August 25, 2002 @05:50PM (#4137835) Homepage
      Some kid who wasn't around when domain names were invented posts nonsense like "URLs aren't supposed to make sense." Then some undercaffeinated moderator votes it up. Now, who's being stupid?

      Network hosts have conventionally borne the names of their organizations since the 1970s -- in fact, before the creation of TCP/IP. The reason the domain name system was created was to facilitate use of easily memorized, meaningful names rather than numeric addresses.

      Read RFCs 597, 606, 608, 810, 952, and 1034 for a start.

      If you really believe "you do not need a domain name to have a website," then by all means feel free to use numeric addresses. You won't need to pay a registrar one red cent, and no corporations will sue you for infringing their trademarks.

      • In all truth, my understanding of domain names was much similar. i.e. shouldn't exist, it should be some sub-domain of, the AOL "family" should all have on the end of them and Mandrake should have all of it's sites suffixed with as in,, etc.
        The smartest way to set up a site under such a system would be that the default would point you to an index or search engine of the rest of the domain. This would probably clean up a lot of the crap on the web if we even remotely enforced the concept of a "domain" in reference to registration. We would possibly put some limit on the number of squatters if there was actually some kinda of tribunal or something that could say "your company/organization is called Spam And Squatters Inc., you get to choose between or".
        Yeah, yeah, yeah, some of you whackos will go nuts over some organization telling you that you can't have 3000 addresses or that you can't buy "" and toss death-porn up at the domain but I think that's reasonable. Go lobby for the .XXX domain to be implemented. Register DeathPorn.XXX and then, if and when we decided we WANTED to see such material, we would know where to find you.
      • If you really believe "you do not need a domain name to have a website," then by all means feel free to use numeric addresses. You won't need to pay a registrar one red cent, and no corporations will sue you for infringing their trademarks.

        But what if the name of my company was or something similar?
    • I agree.
      DNS is for name->address mapping, _not_ for finding what you are looking for. LDAP is for searching through and accessing categorized directories.
      • [Unlike DNS,] LDAP is for searching through and accessing categorized directories.

        But is there a popular free public LDAP server that covers the whole Internet? Or is LDAP designed primarily for use on a company LAN?

        • LDAP is a protocol for accessing directories, it works just as well for the Internet as for smaller networks. I wish there was a recognized Internet-wide LDAP direcrory, maybe then people would stop trying to shoehorn DNS into performing what LDAP is meant for.
    • Get a subdomain wherever your site is hosted, and you'll be fine.

      Fine, that is, until you change service providers, and are obliged to change domain names to the name of your new provider. At that point, you lose all the links that anyone ever created to your website, and your search engine rankings. Ditto for email addresses, as you have to tell everyone who ever emails you to update their address book.

      What you've come up with here is not an argument for "get a subdomain wherever your site is hosted," but rather for, "there should be a very large number of meaningless top level domains, so that everyone everywhere can have a not-particularly-meaningful but permanent domain name which remains theirs in perpetuity."

      • As opposed to the current system where we have , hundreds and/or millions of domains registered to relatively only a handful of people who want them because of squatting and a hilarious but not parti cularly helpful "pay per click, I don't care how you get it" economy on the web?
        Let's add a .XXX and a .search (abbreviated however you please) top level domain. Any domain that points to a search engine but doesn't relate somehow to that search engine (i.e. pointing to but is obvious to a panel of informed judges to be an attempt to catch misclicks and typos gets moved to the new domain.
        And we can all tell a porn site when we see one, right? They should all be moved to the .XXX domain for all of our firewalling, browsing and parental control convenience.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    John Gilmore needs to find out how much a gallon of milk costs these days.

    $625k a year to run a 2.5 million name database? In the real world that pays for 5 high end people after you count business expenses. This is a hgih availability application. Lets get network transit and co-lo with security and backup power. You walso want to replicate this database in a remote location so that doubles those expenses. You also want maintenance contracts with relatively short turn around time. Don't forget staff to man the phones for international operations (Perhaps 24x7). Yes, they may have bought higher end hardware than they needed, but that's a small part of the overall expenses. Finally, these folks are trying to do a professional job and do deserve to make some money in the process.

    How did Gilmore make his money? As I recall it was from being an early employee in Sun. He seems to think that everyone else should give away their profits and live in cardboard boxes, but he sure lives well himself. Let's also be clear that Gilmore has had a very public feud with Paul Vixie about MAPS. Gilmore thinks he has a right to run an open relay and make life easier for spammers, but MAPS does not have a right to list his system. How's the for libertarian ideals? I suspect that's coloring his review.
    • What folk do not appear to understand is that restricting .org to bona-fide non-profits would jack up the cost of running the registry significantly. It certainly could not be done for $0.25 a name and probably could not be done well for less than $100 to the retail customer.

      And what would this achieve? Only some mindless beureaucrats idea of consistency and correctness. There are plenty of registered non-profits that are out and out commercial organizations sheltering behind the tax code. A non profit can pay its CEO whatever it likes so quite a few 'non-profits' are actually worth millions to the people who control them.

      If you want a high reliability Internet you cannot do the DNS system on the cheap. At present .org is hosted in multiple data centers spread arround the world. $625K would not come close to covering costs for rent and connectivity.

      The problem with multi-millionaire hippies like Gilmore is that they have absolutely no understanding of money. It is not a constraint to them so they don't understand that it could be a constraint to anyone. The folk pontificating on the cost of running the DNS system are the same type of people who get into a state when they are told that it costs several million dollars to paint the golden gate bridge. After thinking about the issue for ten seconds they will assert that it should cost no more than $25,000 and if pressed will claim to have based their estimate on how much it cost to paint their house ten years ago. If told that it would cost more than $250K for the paint alone they will give a flat denial.

      Incidentally it is the same type of thinking that is preventing the deployment of DNS Security. An IETF faction is trying to make the protocol as expensive to deploy as possible in the large zones by blocking required engineering changes. The fact that all the registries and all the people who maintain the major DNS codebases support the changes is ignored.

  • Back when domain names were free a whole lot of cybersquatters like got 5,000 or more domain names..

    and then lost them due to trademark and name infringement and the like through WIPO proceedings..

    I don't think WIPO needs any more work than it has right now.. and this woudl just open org domains up to cyber squatters.. we have enough problems with this issue of cyber squatters not to make changes that might increase the problem..

  • Disclaimer: site was /.'ed so I couldn't read the article

    An approach I haven't seen mentioned yet for making sure .org's get registered to nonprofits is to actually make them prove their non-profit status when they register the URL. Maybe it's a novel concept, but it seems to me that if you have to prove your status as a nonprofit to get a .org domain, then you won't have squatters just picking up .org domains.
    • I agree, particuarly with .org, but also other tlds. They should be restricted to the purpose they were created for.

      .org/.plc/.ltd - require proof of status

      global tlds - require some sort of evidence of being a global company (there are country codes for a reason)

      and finally a tld where there are no such restrictions, but it is strictly first come first serve - if I want to register microsoft.whatever, fine - and it can't be taken back for using their name, companies have .com and and so on.

      • global tlds - require some sort of evidence of being a global company (there are country codes for a reason)

        You're telling me you want 200+ contries to agree to start spending huge amounts of money to validate the people registering stuff live in their countries?

        Even ones that make tons of money selling their ccTLD as a defacto gTLD (niue, tuvalu, christmas islands (.nu,.tv,.cx))
    • non-profit according to who's laws? the US? EU? Russian?
    • I've had my ".org" domain name for a decade now. That's well before Dupont and all of the other idiots jumped in and tried to turn the DNS into a second branch of the PTO, and registered 500 domains in a day, and we all had to start paying for something which used to be free.

      When I got this domain, the rules on .com, .net, .edu, and .mil were such that .org was the only place where a private individual was *allowed* to get a domain name at all!

      I, for one, would be extremely pissed if the rules on .org were changed at this late date, so that I could no longer keep my domain name. I'm pretty sure that "" would be pretty pissed, as well.

      If you are going to do that to .org, then limit two character domain names based on country codes to *citizens* of those countries, and limit .net to network infractructure (ISPs, NSPs, etc.), and .com to incorporated entities. Nobody else gets domain names, thanks!

      Ut-oh... I guess it's now obvious that limiting domains by lexicography is a stupid thing. If you want to be a lexicographer, and you think you know better than the rest of us, by all means, start a search engine company or a portal site, and let people who agree with you use it and validate your judgement... or ignore you, if that's what their tastes dictate.

      -- Terry
      • IMO (n.b. I haven't looked at the relevant RFCs) .org makes a lot of sense for individuals with domains for personal use. Individuals having .com domains never made sense to me, since .com refers to commercial entities. Subconsciously, whenever I see an individual with a .com domain, it seems ambiguous as to whether it is truly just an individual, or if they have some commercial intent. One might argue that .org makes no sense for individuals, either, since .org is meant to refer to non-profit organizations. However, in my eyes, .org simply makes sense for any organization/individual that is not a commercial entity.
  • it is very hard to reverse things. It's very understandable that VeriSign wants to release the majority of .org domains. What would this mean? New business to VeriSign as the people whose .org domain got exterminated need go and buy a new one (in most cases a more expensive one). Atleast a significant number of people would need to.
  • The exchange cited shows that Linux gods are no different from other humans....
    The DNS is good at looking up strings. It's a lousy search engine.
    The idea that one should try to "control" a name in all domains is silly - but happened BECAUSE people tried DNS as a search engine.
    Personally, I type names into Google when I want to look them up, not my browser bar.
    There are other angles of attack - see draft-klensin-dns-search [], for instance - but currently that works.
    AND Google gives me enough context to show me WHAT kind of "good vibrations" I'm headed for....
  • Blockquoth John Hall:

    So today a friend tells me of this great new site "gumby". I go to the web
    and look for "" (because it sounded somewhat commercial).

    Why don't you ask your friend the actual name of the site? Instead of a potentially confusing shorthand? When I order books online and then tell someone about it, I say "I got it from", not "I got it from bn". Why? Because logically the .com is part of the nane. (And yes, I do the same with "", which I don't refer to as "amazon", as that's either (a) a river in South America or (b) Wonder Woman's tribe.)

    Of course, the other solution is, do a Google search and avoid the whole issue. Hopefully your friend told something about why "gumby" was a cool site. Go look for it. You know the risk in trying to use a telephone number as a search handle. Why should it be different for domain names?

  • by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) < minus caffeine> on Sunday August 25, 2002 @04:49PM (#4137528) Homepage
    Quoting John Gilmore:
    If we made a hundred GTLDs instead of three or ten, then the price of monopolizing a name for speculation would be 10x to 30x the current price. At the same time, the value of any one of those names would drop significantly, since most of them are replaceable by each other. If the speculators had only bought 90 of the 100 names, a company that wanted to be "CompanyX.something" could become "CompanyX.okay" or "CompanyX.oui" -- without paying a dime to the speculators. They'd lose their entire investment in buying up "CompanyX" names.
    That doesn't make sense to me -- sure, you could use CompanyX.okay instead of CompanyX.something, but that's just a way of saying "let's make domains useless and random, then we can't speculate."

    .com has been overloaded, obviously. But without clearly-defined alternate TLDs, I don't see how adding more will help. Maybe (though unlikely) after a couple years .com will lose it's canonical identity. But people still won't be able to remember the name of a site. This isn't a question of search engines, but of having a meaningful domain system. If you want meaningless, use IP addresses, or get one domain and create serial numbers below it for every individual site/computer (if you want to be IP-address independent).

    Real people, however, want meaningful domain names. If you have a hundred TLDs, many of them will overlap conceptually. Who can remember the difference between .biz and .bus, or .game and .toy? They might remember your carefully chosen second-level domain, but with generic TLDs they won't be able to get to it. Unless you register the name in all related TLDs. But isn't that what we were trying to get away from?

    We have been attacked by multi-level marketers and spammers, and those people are damaging the system greatly. But we can't win by trying to beat them at their game -- by diluting the system so greatly that they can't play. That just ruins the game for everyone, and the MLMers and spammers will still be there anyway. I don't like ICANN, but I do think that well-defined, meaningful, sometimes regulated, and non-overlapping TLDs are essential. This makes ICANN all the worse, because something like it is essential, but done the wrong way (with the wrong people influencing it) it will again damage the system.

    • Visit my website at!

      Wow, that's really useful. Just as useful as:

      Call me! My phone number is 523-555-3125!

      When I want to find out, say, where I can train in kendo, I could start dialing phone numbers that spell out "KENDO" on the numberpad. That would get me exactly nowhere. I could, however, go to the phone book, and look at that. The phone book approach is far more likely to be successful.

      Content-based oversight of domains is useless if not done right, and too costly to do right. Let's not do any of it at all, and rely on the phone books of the Internet to do the work for us. Furthermore, the phone book approach provides a built-in quality control- if one phone book puts dealers of Kawasaki Ninjas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles under the Martial Arts section, word will get around, and their usage will decrease in favor of those phone books that manage to put the right things in the right places. There is no "Ministry of Directories" that makes sure that every directory of anything is correct. Quality control is gained through verification with other humans.

      Google got to the top because their search results are remarkably good. If someone puts out better results, they'll go higher than Google. A central, condition-immune TLD registrar has no such incentive.
      • Visit my website at! Wow, that's really useful. Just as useful as: Call me! My phone number is 523-555-3125!
        First, that's silly. is much easier to remember than 523-555-3125, and you know it.

        Second, I didn't say domain names should be a search system. They are an address. Your arbitrary addresses have been used in Brasilia for house addresses, and my understanding is they suck -- the address says nothing about the location, and there is no good way to remember what something's address is. Phone numbers are also arbitrary, and very hard to remember, hence 1-800-CALLATT and the like -- you don't think, "hey, I bet AT&T offers calling service!", you remember the name after its been specifically told to you. And I believe Sprint (or MCI?) even got 1-800-ATTCALL and redirected it to 1-800-COLLECT, just like the problems with DNS. In the early days of phone numbers, even individuals had mnemonic phone numbers; the advantages have long been clear.

        Using arbitrary domain names is a step backward. Just because the problem is hard, you're saying we should give up. I think we can do better.

        • Phone numbers are also arbitrary, and very hard to remember, hence 1-800-CALLATT and the like -- you don't think, "hey, I bet AT&T offers calling service!", you remember the name after its been specifically told to you. And I believe Sprint (or MCI?) even got 1-800-ATTCALL and redirected it to 1-800-COLLECT, just like the problems with DNS. In the early days of phone numbers, even individuals had mnemonic phone numbers; the advantages have long been clear.

          This way of thinking only works if there are few such people advertising addresses like that. That is, there are few telco collect services, so it's easy to remember the few 1-800-CALL-THIS-FOR-COLLECT numbers that exist. The domain names for the internet were similarly 'nice' back in the day when there few names being spewed around. However, imagine several thousand advertisers on TV spouting off call-collect numbers; your 'meaningful' name just lost its value, since it gets lost in the crowd.

          The same thing has happened to the internet, and yet hardly signficant percentage of the world owns their own domain. As the number of owners grows, the value of 'meaningful' domains will continue to plummet.

          I've also covered the issue of arbitrary domain names in another post [].

    • Real people, however, want meaningful domain names.

      Those 'real people' can pay a premium for .com. Why should I be restrained from having a domain in .leetTLDthatnoonecanrememembr? 'Meaningfulness' is in the eye of the beholder, nothing more, and unlimited TLDs would at least offer a way around speculators and domain namespace monopolists.

      Unless you register the name in all related TLDs. But isn't that what we were trying to get away from?

      So add so many TLDs it becomes impossible. If anyone is using your trademarked name in an illegal manner, fight that in the courts, don't pre-empt it through the DNS and mess things up for the rest of us. Yes, this might make it hard to protect ubiquitous names like -- tough, you shouldn't try to pretend you own a generic word.

  • by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Sunday August 25, 2002 @05:47PM (#4137819) Homepage Journal
    Interesting. From the email exchange:
    John Gilmore said:
    > That's just because you were silly enough to buy your domains from Verisign. They rely on millions of people like you, who were too lazy to switch; that's why their price is so high.

    I did switch. I get my domains now through, at about $11. each. I still consider this too expensive.

    >I get domains for $8 to $12/year via

    I went to their web site and they state that they want $29.95 for a domain. It was unclear if this was for a one year or two year registration, but even if it was two years, that means $15./year. But you probably have connections that I don't.

    Eh? Don't these guys know about Gandi dot Net []?

    About US$10/year (EUR12/year) to have any of .COM, .NET, or .ORG domains. I have had all my domains registered through them for about three years.

    They even do DNS for you, if you don't have it. And their entire system is automated. I've never had to make a phone call, send a letter, or a FAX. Everything, and I mean everything is done through their web interface.

    And just in case you wonder, I'm a U.S. citizen... the fact these guys are based out of France and charge me in Euros doesn't seem to make any difference. I've never had a problem with these guys. They're clued.

  • The problem with the domain system is that it is a huge, nearly flat namespace. Just adding new TLD's to the current system is a poor way of fixing its problems (although it was a much better idea back when Jon Postel first suggested it). No company with a .com is going to willingly give it up now.

    Do you think Nissan Motors is going to settle for ""? Or that the fellow they're trying to take from is going to give it up for ""? There's only one way to level the playing field: eliminate the current TLD's and force everyone (whether corporation, organization, or individual) to choose a new one from a reasonably large and comprehensive list.

    There are various restictions that might rationalize the system even more (e.g. restrict each entity to a single 2nd-level name per TLD and use further levels to subdivide, e.g. "") but I'm not sure such regulation would be necessary (or desirable). But one thing for sure: there is too much vested interest in the current system for incremental changes to work.

  • So today a friend tells me of this great new site "gumby". I go to the web and look for "" (because it sounded somewhat commercial). When that does not come up, I try for "" and "". You are now telling me that I will have to try "gumby.XXX" on the average of 50 more times (not counting bad typing) before I get the right "gumby"?

    Or you could just ask your friend for the URL...
  • A co-worker of mine thought of this idea; it seems like a good view of how DNS should be.

    DNS is best at providing a mapping from a static legal designators to a dynamic technical namespace. In our case, that means we are mapping from a legally-owned and recognized domain name to a potentially dynamic IP address.

    The problem is that the legal referers, domain names, are valuable, since they are human-readable (e.g., This value causes all the fighting over them that we see today.

    To resolve this, domain names not be human readable; they should be more like an IP address, except that it is static, can map to a dynamic address. That is, domain names could be, say, numbers only, e.g., "23598263596".

    As to the problem of 'finding' a website, which is currently done by novices by simply typing "", this is what directory services are for. Example of directory services are Google, or DMOZ, where your amount legal power does not equal the size of your presence. That is, just because you are large, you do not automatically get the first hit on Google for "yourname"; your 'site' has to be popular.

    It is also important to note that directory services can provide multiple results for a name. DNS only provides one place to go to for "". However, if looked up "company" in Google, you will see multiple results; from those results you can decide whether or not you might be ending up at the correct site. A good example of this is "whitehouse". "", of course, is porn. But the first hit on Google is, and you can easily tell from the Google summary that is porn.

    Furthermore, this system also eliminates squatting, since the static legal addresses have little value. That is, there is no real value beteween "5982352569" and "2352356" as addresses.

    • This is a neat idea in theory, but I think the internet as it exists now might have been opened to the public too young. It's grown up some with bad influences from certain sectors and now I think some of these things are somewhat ingrained.
      It doesn't hurt to make suggestions and this one was logical but not real-world workable.
    • [ suggestion: use numbers instead of domain names, actual finding done by google, &c.

      This won't work for e-mail: do you think that sendmail will run a google search and make an intelligent choice as to which domain hosts ``ftobin''?

      • I think you miunderstand. The email address would be something like ftobin@23523523523525. Doing a directory lookup is used when you only know a weak, non-technical name of something online, such as a legal name, e.g., "Sears". Email addresses don't fall into that category; they are technical descriptions of where to deliver mail.

        Please correct me if I'm miunderstanding you.

        • The email address would be something like ftobin@23523523523525.
          This is next to useless. I don't think anyone will want to put that on his card, as opposed to, say, because the latter is way more memorable. The chosen name, both for web sites and for e-mail, needs to be memorable and easy for humans to use. I don't expect to see a billboard saying ``use google to look up DESCRIPTION'' any time soon. And of course there is the question of how I'd use google if we went to the new scheme - would someone be so clever as to reserve ``easy'' numbers?
          • There is a difference between an address being memorable and and its being to use. True, something like ftobin@2353252352 isn't memorable or easy to use. However the easy-to-use problem can be solved:

            The number-domain could be encoded into words (like PGP did for its hex fingerprints) each 2 bytes or so can correspond to a word in a known dictionary. That way, something like ftobin@32523590 could be encoded to ftobin@[charlie whiskey banana paper]. This solution also helps memorability, but doesn't "solve" it in the manner you hope to.

            I'm aware that my encoding scheme creates some degree of desirable for certain names, but not to any real great extent, I feel. And it certainly eliminates trademark issues.

            However, I'm not so sure the problem of memorable addresses can be solved in the long run. True, right now we can do, because there are so few people actually having addresses. But as as each individual gets at least one address (I highly think that each individual should get many addresses), names almost by definition get less memorable, due to people just being swamped with names.

            Remember, the problem with "desirable" memorable addresses is that they create this situation where everyone's climbing over each other for a scarce resource. People get along fine with non-controlled house addresses; hence, I don't quite see a problem with using some sort of encoding scheme as suggested above.

  • The problem, as some other posters have noted, is that DNS is couplng static legal identifiers with dynamic physical addresses while at the same time people are trying to use the legal identifiers as conceptual addresses.

    This cannot work.

    While directory services function moderately well at locating references to concepts, they don't do it REAL well. I went looking for HTMLView a few days ago and had to slog through pages of results that pointed to the wrong product that happened to have the same name. And most people are not experts at using search engines.

    Maybe we need to consider Ted Nelson's Xanadu Project all over again. ie., we need something to allow entities on the Net to be conceptually identified and categorized so that people can put a name or concept in a search engine and find an INTELLIGENTLY ORGANIZED (unlike Google where the results are a hodgepodge of whatever the Web server operator put in his HTML) list that describes the entity in sufficient terms to determine WHAT KIND of entity it is and WHICH entity of that kind it is.

    Then you hit the button and you get the legal address which has no more importance than "1055 Market Street" does (or wouldn't if we didn't live on a physical street) and IT takes you to 455.622.012.5 which only the routers care about.

  • If you want to register a should need to be a non profit organization. The .Org registry should be operated in the same way as a non profit entity.
  • I think Gilmore's points about the key being a good organizational structure for the DNS system carries the day. In the current system, it does seem that, first, allowing companies to make too much money off DNS is inviting trouble, and second, the registration databases can't (and shouldn't try to) provide a service to eliminate cybersquatting.

    I certainly don't think making domain names more expensive will help anything.

    The cooling off period idea of Hall's was good, too.

    However, I don't think that having a bunch more top level domains will solve cybersquatting either. In fact, I think there probably isn't a clean solution to cybersquatting.

    perhaps openNIC could eventually find a better compromise than the current system, however (and perhaps not, who knows?)

    -- bayle

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling