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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just Say No...To Dotless Domains. (or) in Dots We Trust.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

The Internet has been build on dots. Dotted domain names that is. From the time that the first Internet domain name ( was registered in 1985-  the Internet has been build on domain names. Dotted domain names. What I mean is that domain names have always contained a dot. Such as .com, .net, .org and .info. and on and on.

As of late, ICANN (the Internets governing body) has decided to study the possibility of introducing what are being called "dotless domains."  ICANN has contracted with Carve Systems LLC (“Carve”) to perform a study on the stability and security implications of the proposed dotless domain name functionality. Carve Systems did produce a 41 page report that goes into the dotless domain issue in great detail.

The recently issued report is here:

Dotless domain names are not actually new at all. Dotless domains have been used in private networks for decades. The impetus for this study at least partially relates to some  of the organizations that have submitted applications (to the new GTLD program) to manage new GTLDs have expressed interest in operating as "dotless" domain names. The consideration of publicly resolvable dotless domain names has created concern due to the wide reaching scope of GTLDs. Particularly, with the impending release of potentially thousands new top level domain extensions.

This report does identify some significant concerns in the executive summary including namespace collision, user confusion, and technology confusion. You can read the report yourself and make your own conclusions. There is also other research on the topic out there. My findings are here:

There are clearly many potentially problematic areas with security, confusion and technology. Most of these problematic areas are not even known or predicted yet. (remember the law of unintended consequences?)

Dotless domains have the real potential to undermine, compromise and even destroy the established (dotted) domain system. 

ICANN is taking  a thoughtful and studied approach to research the prospect of introducing dotless domain names. This is a good thing.

ICANN (actually the entire Internet) has a great thing going with traditional (dotted) domain names. They would be something beyond foolish to take such a high risk to mess up this proven effective system.

ICANN has its hands full with the impending introduction of the new GTLDs.  With soon to be potentially thousands of new domain extensions. Some have projected that there will ultimately be hundreds of thousands of new domain name extensions. This should be enough to keep ICANN busy and focused in execution of that project.

I know that we can never predict for certain where technology will take us- and in this case where domain name technologies will go.  However, I'm going to take take a stand here regarding dotless domain names.

Dotless domain names are a dud and should never see the light of day.  The best thing that would happen to them is that they would die on the vine (or at least stay on private Intranets). They are a huge economic risk with a certain bad result. The Internet belongs to all of us- and to dotless domains- I would like to say- Im sorry, but this Internet is not for you.