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The Internet The Almighty Buck

Berners-Lee on the TLD Explosion 303

kmccammon writes "Tim Berners-Lee recently released a white paper outlining a number of justifications for stalling (at least temporarily) the expansion of the top-level domains. Among the reasons cited: bad economics. As evidenced by the .biz and .info debacle, more top-levels does not necessarily mean more domain name availability. All it really means is that every .com/.net owner now needs to rush out and buy the same name under each new TLD. Thus, the 'value of one's original registration drops. At the same time, the cost of protecting one's brand goes up.'"
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Berners-Lee on the TLD Explosion

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  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I want to register microsoft.sucks
    • The .sucks tld was proposed by somebody on NANOG and she set up authoritative nameservers for it. It's bee live for a couple of years.

      Set up the domain and I'll pass along your nameservers and it'll work for at least the l33t. You have to promise not to tell ICANN though, they have utterly no sense of humor about this.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...automatically get first crack at the new TLD's similar to their .com or whatever?
    • No more than they get first crack at similar TLDs in .net or .org.
    • by SoTuA ( 683507 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:03PM (#9209434)
      Maybe. Here in Chile, the ruling entity on the .cl domain usually turns down applications to register www.cocacola.cl or www.mcdonalds.cl if you aren't Coke or McD's. That happened after some squatter went out and registered a bunch of stuff like luckystrike.cl, for example. The cost of contesting all those registrations made it worthwhile to do a bit of "research" before granting domains.
    • I believe that the registrar for a domain can set the rules. If the company in charge of the new TLD wants to give first crack to whoever owns the equivalent .com, they are free to do so. If they want to make it first-come-first-serve, they can do that as well.
  • by MacFury ( 659201 ) <me@@@johnkramlich...com> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#9209411) Homepage
    .com .net and .org are really all that matter. The average joe equates .com with the internet.
  • I'm sorry... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ericspinder ( 146776 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#9209414) Journal
    but I don't believe that one needs to snap up every version of domains saying apple, home, or even localhost. More TDL's give more people the right to a short easy to remember name.
    • Re:I'm sorry... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:05PM (#9209447) Homepage Journal
      Whitehouse.com [whitehouse.com], whitehouse.net [whitehouse.net], and whitehouse.org [whitehouse.org] say otherwise.
      • Each of which is a different website. This just supports the parent's statement.

        What was your point?
        • My point is they dilute the "whitehouse" brand, and confuse people. Which of the four "whitehouse" sites is the President's page, which one is the porn site, which one is the parody, and which one is the political site?
    • Exactly. Since when is TBL's goal for the web to maximize the corporate value of brand names?
    • One thing that confuses me a little is why TLD's need to be restricted in the first place. If anyone was (easily and accessibly) able to create their own TLD and sell (or give away) names underneath them on their own terms, it would reduce the motivation for businesses to go and snap up every single variation of their name under every TLD.

      Presumably the people or businesses who snap up the better TLD's and run them more reliably will simply get more people wanting to use them to index their servers o

      • If anyone was (easily and accessibly) able to create their own TLD and sell (or give away) names underneath them on their own terms, it would reduce the motivation for businesses to go and snap up every single variation of their name under every TLD.

        Instead, it would encourage every lunatic and his brother to "create" as many TLDs as they can think of, in case they think of that accidentally becomes valuable. It would just move domain-speculation up the TLD level. We'd have TLDs being created nearly at ra

    • I disagree. The extra TLDs make it harder to remember addresses because you have to remember the TLD as well as the name. It just allows for more confusion and bickering. If I was ruler of the world (or designing the net from scratch) I'd have them removed entirely. Wouldn't it be more elegant if you could just use, say, slashdot to refer to a domain?

      If people wanted easy to remember names, they would just have to exercise some ingenuity (hey, you could always register your domain as slashdotdotorg).
      • Re:I'm sorry... (Score:3, Insightful)

        DNS needs a hierarchical name structure so that the data can be delegated in a what that keeps load somewhat manageable.

        A flat namespace would be pretty much impossible unless you did something very different. But it you could easily dream up ways to make it work, e.g. you could run some arbitrary hash function over a flat name to assign it to a "TLD" for resolution purposes.
        • A flat namespace would be pretty much impossible unless you did something very different.

          In what way does a system that has almost every name under the .com TLD and most of the others under the .net domain differ from a flat namespace?

          • You may have a point there, but at least today we have some level of delegation.

            I googled but I could not find any data on the size of com versus the size of the other TLDs. Got any references?
    • More TLDs (if they're arbitrary and too many to remember) just makes the short, otherwise easy-to-remember names harder to remember.
      • Lets be unreasonable and take your idea to the extreme (I know that's unheard of in this fine forum, but bear with me)...

        Why do people even have last names, from now on every one should have the "family name" of "Sol", its short and easy to remember. Also under this naming scheme only one person can have any given name. (Let's say) Your current name is John, someone else is using John Sol and since he doesn't like people to confuse him with anyone else he also takes JohnS Sol, Jim Sol, Johnny Sol, Jimmy S

    • I don't believe that one needs to snap up every version of domains saying apple, home, or even localhost. More TDL's give more people the right to a short easy to remember name.

      Agereed. All of the discussion has been about "brand" and "corporation". Funny, as an American my tax Dollars did a lot for the Internet and funnier still corporations are all that are kept in mind with TLD issues. Corporations get enough as is. Lets look at it from a "person" perspective.
  • by leitec ( 640055 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:02PM (#9209421) Homepage
    I've found that the vast majority of sites using new, alternative domain names are pure garbage. Most are sketchy e-commerce stores with terrible domain names and even worse web design; in other words, I'd never, ever buy from them. Some .info sites worked out well (z80.info, for example), but .biz and the like is bad FrontPage heaven. Some of the national TLD's have found good non-commercial use, like the many personal .nu sites out there, but again, the level of trust goes down with a commercial site under these domains. Has anyone observed anything similar?
  • by beatleadam ( 102396 ) <flamberge AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:02PM (#9209422) Homepage Journal
    Screw it all...I want my IP Address to be used again!

    If you want to find me I can be reached at - How is that for "protecting my brand" ?
    • It's coming from inside the house!!!
    • by Kaimelar ( 121741 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:10PM (#9209490) Homepage
      If you want to find me I can be reached at - How is that for "protecting my brand" ?

      Wait, points to my machine! You're not protecting your brand, you're trying to hijack mine! Just wait until my lawyer hears about this! ;-)

    • 1. Take a web address (e.g. http://www.slashdot.org/)
      2. Look up the IP address (e.g.
      3. Convert to Hex (42.23.FA.97)
      4. Concatenate (4223FA97)
      5. Convert resultant integer to decimal (1109654167)
      6. Go to http://1109654167/ in Mozilla

      Voila. This only works if virtual hosting isn't being used, and doesn't work in IE. Google is on http://3639556963/, useful if your DNS servers go down.
      • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:29PM (#9209634) Homepage
        Umm.. they is it 'useful if your DNS servers go down'.

        I'd stop at step 2. Steps 3,4,5 an 6 are just wasting good drinking time.

        The only IP you really need of course is the one your DNS server is on - so you can bring it back up again :)
      • > This only works if virtual hosting isn't being used

        No IP address does.

        > and doesn't work in IE

        It used to. They turned off this feature after seeing that no one but spammers used it.
      • I think IE took this feature out, because calling a site "http://1109654167/" was an address scheme that nobody in their right mind was using, except for spammers and other undesirables who were trying to run around blockers based on hostnames and IP addresses.

        Afterall, dotted-quad is good enough to reach a site by IP address... so other ways to express an IP are just redundant.
      • Besides A.B.C.D where A, B, C, and D are decimal octets, and A, where A is a decimal 32-bit value, there are two more decimal forms for IP addresses that work: A.B where A and B are 16-bit decimal numbers, and, A.B where A is 8-bit and B is 24-bit.

        That last one is interesting. Suppose you live in Seattle (area code 206). If you could get IP address 206.A.B.C, and then write it in the 8-bit.24-bit form, for appropriate A, B, and C, the 24-bit part will have 7 decimal digits, and you can write your IP add

  • by titaniam ( 635291 ) * <slashdot@drpa.us> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:02PM (#9209425) Homepage Journal
    My reason for limiting tlds is that there is too much to keep track of already. Has anyone ever tried to get lists of domain names for each tld? It is a daunting problem. More tlds means more hassle for those people trying to set up search engines. I recently did a recursive "dig axfr" on all open nameservers to get lists of domain names to scan, and having more tlds would only complicate matters. Now I am faced with filling out hundreds of arcane online forms to get the definitive lists of domain names from the root registrars. What a hassle, and all to stop spammers/hackers from getting the lists. The internet is NOT open.
  • Stop and think (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nakito ( 702386 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:05PM (#9209452)
    Forget domain names for a moment. Think generally. What stops anyone from choosing a business name that unlawfully incorporates another company's name? What stops anyone from creating the "Kodak Cafe" or the "Microsoft Bar and Grill"? The answer is: trademark law. Why isn't this enough? Why make such a big deal about trying to solve a problem that's already solved? Create all the TLDs that you want. I guarantee that if someone other than Kodak tries to register Kodak.blah, the registrant of Kodak.blah will be shut down. It's a non-issue.
    • Re:Stop and think (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LPrime ( 752625 ) *
      Not for small companies. Its hard to enforce copyright law when you are a small buisness.

      Most of the sites that use the new TLDs are
      A) Scams
      B) Squaters
      or C) Fakes
    • Re:Stop and think (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lycono ( 173768 )
      What about those that don't have the money or time to sue? Individuals, small companies, etc?

      Plus, I think you've proven one of the points made in the article:

      At the same time, the cost of protecting one's brand goes up.

      Lawsuits cost money....
    • And to carry the thought one step farther: if the domain name does NOT incorporate a trademarked name, such as when the word is generic, then that is exactly the kind of situation in which a lot of TLDs would actually be useful (bank.com, bank.net, bank.blah). So it works either way. If the name is trademarked, it doesn't matter if there are a lot of TLDs because you can shut down infringers, and if the name is not trademarked, it doesn't matter if there are a lot of TLDs because they don't infringe in each
    • Re:Stop and think (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:16PM (#9209538)
      The problem isn't really big companies that have trademarked names, it's the "little guy" that has webhosting.com or acmenetworking.com. Unless they go buy all the other TLD variations then some smacktard will come along and register acmenetworking.net and acmenetworking.org and start doing business as them.

      Look at extreme situations like handybackup.com vs. handybackup.net. Two ENTIRELY different companies. handybackup.net pirated handybackup.com's software and hacked it to release their "new and improved" 4.1 version, stole handybackup.com's site layout down to the fscking images and is pretty much indistinguishable from handybackup.com except for very minor things like being Novosoft LLC instead of Novosoft Inc. That's just outright fraud.

      • Exactly, they should sue (or try to get an attorney general to prosecute) instead of worrying about a technical solution. Besides, even if there were no TLDs, they could have just gotten "handybackups" or "handibackup" or "handy-backup" or the like.
      • Here is my point: Take it out of the realm of domain names, and apply the same analysis that you would apply in the physical world. I open a bar called "Johnny's Bar." You open a bar down the street called "Johnny's Pub." Why does the anlysis change if we compare johnnys.bar to johnnys.pub? Or acme.com to acme.net? If the name is actually trademarked (like Kodak) then you can't do it anyway, if it isn't, well, there are a thousand bars out there than include the name "Johnny." And finally, if someone is act
      • And? We have a legal system to handle fraud. The DNS system itself can't police this.

        If .net didn't exist, the fraudsters could still have used handy-backup.com, handyback-up.com, handy-back-up.com, handibackup.com, handybakup.com, or any others of dozens of minor variants.
      • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @07:13PM (#9210010) Homepage Journal
        After losing my domain name to the theif [whois.net] who runs this disgraceful site [domaincontender.com], I'm about to give up on domain names all together. What happened? The name I registered was bombed out by spam, my ISP was uncooperative and sleaze bag, who runs a his own big registrar [directnic.com] grabbed it up.

        Do I think Sigmund has a real interest in my former domain name? Only as a speculator. What else can "Buy domains inexpensively! Resell them at competitive prices!" mean?

        So what can I do about it? Sigmund is a lawyer with $250,000 worth of infrastructure behind him. I've seen WIPO cases with more going for them lose. The year I spent building that site and name are now effectively Sigmund's and there's nothing I can do about it because I don't have the time, resources or knowledge.

        Problems like that need to be solved. Small businesses are going to be driven from the web by practices like that. If they go, so goes the web itself because people are not going to trust a non free media. It's simple banditry and no one does business in a lawless place.

    • Please try to take your own advice.

      What about the McDonalds car rental business? It is an issue.

      Did you also know that what you are proposing is little better than a hosts file which will cane the bollocks off of the top level name servers?

      Sometimes I wish that PC monitors came with a big stick attached to them so that their operators could be thwacked about the head when they mail or post something completely inane. It would need a protocol to allow the transmission of clues. The clue protocol.
      • Did you also know that what you are proposing is little better than a hosts file which will cane the bollocks off of the top level name servers?

        bullshit, the .com domain is already a de-facto global hosts file and it works just fine. Adding a few silly TLDs that nobody uses will not make the DNS namespace suddenly heirarchal in practice or more scaleable.

        You should hit yourself with a stick as a proof of concept.
        • go to python.com instead of python.org, see if you like it.
        • It *doesn't* work fine.

          If it worked fine we wouldn't be having this bloody discussion. Again. There's domain squatting, trademark infringement, lawsuits over name collisions. It's all completely unnecessary.

          The fact that names are created under .com offloads the traffic from the root nameservers to the .com nameservers thereby freeing up the root nameservers to handle more queries. .com isn't a de-facto flat hosts file for the whole internet, not even remotely. We're using a .org name right now and my com
      • Please try to take your own advice. . . . Sometimes I wish that PC monitors came with a big stick attached to them so that their operators could be thwacked about the head when they mail or post something completely inane.

        Colin, pick up your telephone directory. Now turn to the business section. Now look up all of the businesses that start with a generic word like "Quality" or "National" or even a common last name like "McDonalds." If you live in a medium to large city, you will find many businesses tha
        • Yeeeeellllooooowwww ppaaaaagggeeeeessss.

          Businesses exist within different sections society and equally so within yellow pages directories.

          If all you can come up with is a flat list of names and numbers like the phone book, or a hosts file you don't have the requisite experience to be commenting on the subject. We have been there and it *doesn't work*. Christ it doesn't even work within moderate sized organisations never mind something the size of the Internet.

  • I think the nail has already been hit on the head here so no need for comments, move along.
  • by Pan T. Hose ( 707794 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:07PM (#9209463) Homepage Journal
    This is not clearly stated in the summary, but for those who don't already know, Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee is the one who has singlehandedly invented the World Wide Web and has written the first browser and server. See this [].
    • This is nothing but FUD. The World Wide Web was created by Microsoft. That is why the Internet Explorer is an integrated part of the Windows Operating System. All this Berners-Lee fellow did was make an Open Source clone of Internet Explorer called 'www', and as with other Open Source clones, it has a crappy UI and hardly no features. It is all in text, for christ's sake.
    • Not (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rs79 ( 71822 )
      Lee put the pieces together. Brian Reid for his PhD thesis invented Scribe which begat SGML which begat HTML. Einar Stefferud invnted MIME and got Nathaniel Borenstein to implement it. Add the Mac Hypercard ideas to this, shake, bake, and you have a WWW cake.

      Lee is dead wrong about this issue too. In any other fora I'd explain why but this is slashdot and I don't even need to read thw article let alone explain how.
    • Having said that if he can bring some light on to the shitty system we have just now it's all good.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:09PM (#9209479)
    My rant on the subject:



    • Think of it as a filing system. Would you allow users to randomly create directories off root or /usr or even /home? No, only a fuckwit would do that but this is essentially what ICANN are doing.

      fuckwit is not a nice word. Lose it and your rant would look less like a rant.

      In any case, I like the idea that I can create my own structure without some librarian's assistance. Something like:

      • news.google.com
      • maps.yahoo.com

      The solution to domain squatting is to punish the squatters, but it seems that the po

  • by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:12PM (#9209504) Homepage
    .... Crap... That's it.

    In all seriousness, this needs to not happen. I can tell you all sorts of horror stories of my own regarding a rather well know domain name and not owning the .net version of it.

    Ted Tschopp
  • by Roland Piquepaille ( 780675 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:12PM (#9209506)
    Traditional TLDs have passed into everyday english. When you phone someone and say "hey here's my email: xyz at something dot com". People on the other end kind of expect a "dot com" to end the email. They can tolerate a "dot net" or "dot org" because they're very common (less so for emails). National TLDs are common too, for the nationals concerned, and other people in the world who see them regularly.

    But "john at cia dot info"? "robert at shackled dot mobi"? these extensions are so uncommon nobody wants them in their emails, or FQDNs, because almost invariably people go "uh?" hearing them. They just don't stick.

    New TLDs are a catch-22 problem: people won't use them because they sound alien, and they sound alien because people don't use them.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:16PM (#9209543) Homepage Journal
    Is rather outdated to me. I agree with the idea that the tree structure doesn't fit the net anymore. I'd say we should open it wide- with the new hard drives coming out, all top level DNS servers should have 10 TB of space- and anybody who wants to can start a new TLD company. That way, the price of registration will fall until registering any domain name is trivial- and we'll get human language based domain names as a big plus. Of course, I'm already doing this in the framework- my company, Information-R-Us (link not included in hopes of avoiding slashdoting, my DSL line can't take it) has a domain name that is just a rearrangement of the punctuation- in the .us TLD of course.
    • I'd say we should open it wide- with the new hard drives coming out, all top level DNS servers should have 10 TB of space- and anybody who wants to can start a new TLD company

      - Hard drives still cost money.
      - High performance computers still cost money.
      - Colocation and bandwidth still cost money.
      - Admins still cost money.
      - Redundant backup schemes still cost money.
      - 24x7x365.25 high availability still costs money.

      Why should another company finance this for you?

      The tree structure does work. It just doesn'
    • Yeah, it sounds outdated to you because you have no idea what you're talking about. Fashionable is it?

      Oooh, look information-r.us isn't registered. Should I? Should I? Direct it to a porn site? Maybe you should register that one quickly, before someone else does. Oh, and you might want to get information-r-us.com/net/org as well.

      Get a clue. In a completely flat namespace, which is what you are suggesting, you're going to have to register pretty much every combination you can. Just like now.
  • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @06:19PM (#9209560) Homepage
    When .biz and .info emerged a couple of years ago, I had to spend a six-figure sum of my company's money to register trademarks, placenames, product names, et cetera ... primarily as a defensive maneuver. We didn't get a cent of value out of those registrations, but we did have to fight several expensive legal challenges (multiple companies may use a word as a trademark in different contexts, so disputes naturally arise).

    In my opinion, these new TLDs were successful only as a tool for driving revenue to registrars and especially Afilias and Neulevel (which administer those TLD's).

  • I'm also aware of that new TLD's are in most cases a dead end to improve domain name availability, partially due to all domain parkers purchasing domains they only wish to sell. :-P

    Anyone have any ideas on how to improve this? Should domain parking in this way not be allowed? However, although that's disallowed, maybe we'd still have problems with e.g. a movie company registering a domain name just for a movie (happens all the time), which happens to have a common name.

    Should more restrictions about what
  • Am I the only one whose first thought was that some hapless nuclear worker's thermoluminescent dosimeter exploded? I imagine it happened while reading it, so it probably didn't injure anybody, but still, nuclear safety and monitoring devices should be safe, at the very least.

    And what's with all the comments about IP addresses?

  • ... for the registry services. This is a very simple way of getting more money out of current customers who truly care about their name. It's very simple economics really. Do you think all of the registrars are out there for the good the people? Internet? Corporations? No, they're out there for their shareholders. They are businesses and need to make money.

    As for not buying from the new TLDs, there will be an uneasy settling in period for sure but people will start trusting sites and email from these

  • But not necessarily because one has to register more domain name extension.

    If the yearly cost for a domain name was $500 instead of $25, we would see a lot less domains locked by some stupid domain name owners waiting years for someone to bid on their unused domains.
  • by joebolte ( 704665 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @07:14PM (#9210023) Homepage
    I really have to say that I think the whole idea of TLD's was a bad idea in the first place. We should have just had keywords that linked to DNS so you wouldn't have to remember whether somethign was .org .net or .com It seems that multiple domains are only for people trying to be deceptive and grab traffic from a better-known site. It doesn't help to have somehting like abra.org available instead of abra.net People just can't remember which one it was so they should both lead to the same site, just abra.
    • Doesn't scale (Score:3, Informative)

      by rs79 ( 71822 )
      Dude, that's even more lame than hosts.txt. If you do the math you'd see there is no data trasnport big enough to prevent the root servers from melting down. Yo could decentralize it by having each host have the entire hosts file. You have a spare terrabyte on each machine that wants to do this, jah, to say nothing of the costs to trnasport the daily updates to that file.

  • a side issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday May 20, 2004 @08:26PM (#9210471) Homepage Journal
    what ever happened to the whole "all internet porn has to end in .xxx" or ".sex", etc.

    seemed like a good idea to me then and still does now

    seems easy to enforce... if you distribute porn and you register a .com, you are opening yourself up to legal action

    and then it is trivial to keep kids away from it without having to play tread water to keep your lists of porn sties up to date

    and no, there is no slippery slope (pardon the pun): sites on breast examination for breast cancer, etc., seem pretty straightforwardly NOT prone to confusion... if you registered someone as a .com site, and someone challenged you, they would lose

    so what gives? how come this idea seemed to have disappeared?
  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pan T. Hose ( 707794 ) on Thursday May 20, 2004 @09:21PM (#9210725) Homepage Journal
    This is very interesting. I have read Secrets & Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World [schneier.com] by Bruce Schneier and now I am reading New Top Level Domains Considered Harmful [w3.org] by Timothy John Berners-Lee and the later seems to be quite interestingly related to the former. According to Berners-Lee, "The Internet is a net, and the WWW is a Web, but WWW and email use DNS which is a tree, which has a single root." But according to Schneier I also know that security product is a process layered like an onion which is a chain only as secure as the weakest link. Now, I am starting to wonder what would be the weakest link in the chain of onion layers which are the branches of a tree in the web of our network and how could it be related to the "single root" compromise universal vulnerability and if my conclusions are correct then securing the Interweb network is impossible.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.