A Timely Warning For .AU

AU logoWith direct registrations of .au domains having been approved in principle by the auDA Board, it is timely to look at what has happened (and is currently happening) across the ditch in New Zealand. This may help the “SS auDA” avoid the iceberg or lighthouse that is directly ahead. Judging from comments made by the auDA CEO at the recent AGM, he is now very aware of the potential dangers.

But first some background. In May this year, I wrote an article entitled “Direct Registrations – The NZ Way”. It’s worth reading this again, as I suggested then that:

“Despite the spin and gloss that certain people want to put on the “success” of NZ direct registrations, many domain investors and registrants think that it has been a bit of a shemozzle.”

“The managed conflict process has also been a disappointment (some would say nightmare) for many registrants. This is where, for example, one registrant may hold anyname.co.nz while others may hold anyname.org.nz or anyname.school.nz. These registrants all have rights in the conflicted name anyname.nz.”

Fast Forward To Now

A NZ friend of mine pointed out to me that the Domain Name Commission (their equivalent of auDA) has recently proposed some changes to the .nz Conflicted Name Process

Comments are now flowing in from affected registrants, and as my Kiwi mate says, this one (below) seems a good summary of the situation (though the corruption suggestion in the last sentence seems overly aggressive and unnecessary). Bolding is mine (and I could have bolded it all).

Submission of Alex W. – received 6 December 2016

“The fact that these changes to your process are now being proposed is evidence, if any more were needed, that the original process was poorly thought-out and was enacted in unseemly haste.

In fact, the adoption of second level registrations seems to have been a wholly cynical exercise that was promoted – more in hope than expectation – by a registration industry greedy for further bites of the cherry.  It is, frankly, incredible that this scheme was then adopted, without any proper consultation, review – or apparently any thought whatsoever – by an embarrassingly gullible and negligent commission.

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that second level registrations were a reaction to domain name congestion or were adopted for any legitimate purpose.  New Zealand is a relatively tiny jurisdiction and yet now enjoys an embarrassment of domains.  All this has been achieved at the (very considerable) expense of legitimate businesses (like ours) who have had no choice but to protect their intellectual property rights to prevent confusion.

I strongly opposed this policy at the time and I am not at all surprised that it is now subject to (totally foreseeable) deadlock.

I propose that all conflicted domains remain ineligible for registration.  To require domain holders to lodge a preference is inequitable and is bound to lead to further confusion for consumers.

The withdrawal of conflicted domains is the fairest course to all parties.

Currently conflicted names should be withdrawn in perpetuity (i.e. not returned to the pool).

I further submit that all further second level registrations be withdrawn forthwith.  Failing which, I propose a moratorium on all and any expansion of the NZ domain pool.

Finally, if I have not made my opprobrium for this process and the commission sufficiently clear, may I state unequivocally that I consider the commission negligent to its duty to the point of actual corruption.”

NZ Silver Fern

Where Does That Leave .AU?

Given everything that has transpired in the .NZ and .UK domain spaces – and borrowing from Alex W above – I have to ask these simple questions of auDA:

  • Are direct registrations an imperative at this time – or is auDA just pandering to “a registration industry greedy for further bites of the cherry”?
  • With approximately 3,060,000 domains registered in our namespace as at November 2016, is there any evidence that we are we suffering from congestion? (As at November 2015, there were 3,006,862 domains registered in total).

What do my readers think?

Ned O’Meara – 8th December 2016


Disclaimer 2

10 thoughts on “A Timely Warning For .AU

  • Avatar
    December 8, 2016 at 10:19 am


    Pressure from a few vested interests resulted in NZ regulators ignoring the bleeding obvious

    The business case for direct registrations in NZ was even weaker than it is here in Australia


    Another factor is that our these guys have a love for and are proud of “.kiwi”

    (dot)nz may as well be (dot)[email protected]! for many

    • Avatar
      December 8, 2016 at 11:04 am

      .kiwi hasn’t taken.  Kiwi is more what overseas people label New Zealanders.

      .kiwi.nz is at 4,900 registrations.  dnc.org.nz/node/1225

      If you were to do a new gTLD why restrict yourself to a population market of 4.5 million anyway.

      .co.nz is the gold standard, like .com.au is (as local matching country codes go).

  • Avatar
    December 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    The NZ aftermarket is the worst I have ever experienced. Why they ever bothered diluting the pool is beyond me. I get more offers on my .xyz domains then I do on co.nz and .nz. Everyone tells me that .xyz is crap, but let me tell you that .nz is crapper.

  • Avatar
    December 8, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    2015 /2016 Worst year ever for New Zealand domain name registrations and renewals. 1 year after direct .nz came in.

    https://www.dnc.org.nz/sites/default/files/2016-08/Domain Name Commission – Annual Report – .pdf

    “The dip between February and March 2016 reflects the one-year anniversary of the end of the preferential registration and registration period – an important part of the registrations direct at the second level change. It appears that some registrants, having exercised their preferential registration rights, have subsequently let the shorter version of their name drop.”

  • Avatar
    December 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Shorter is better, direct .AU is the way it always shoul have been.

    • Ned O'Meara
      December 9, 2016 at 4:25 am

      That may well be the case, but that’s not the thrust of the article.

      • Avatar
        December 10, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        True Ned. As we’ve seen with new extensions… switching ain’t easy for people. 🙂

    • Avatar
      December 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Ausregistry and auDA used the earlier UK and NZ models to run campaigns and justification claims calling for another competing Australian extension.

      Both the direct .NZ and direct .UK have failed as the official body reports now show.

      $billions have been spent on making the Australian .com.au’s well know and trusted globally and $millions of dollars by auDA themselves.

      Shorter is not better it seems for the actual numbers of registrations, renewals and non renewals of the  .UK and .NZ direct options. out of the top 20,000 websites for the uk I do not think there is one is a direct .uk. 

      Had those statistics been different and the uptake higher it may have been worth all 3 millions registrants being sent a survey with factual information asking opinions on another Australian extension but the fact is this is a failure Australia, auDA, Ausregistry and everyone must now avoid. This is supported by the official United Kingdom and New Zealand reports and many others

      This is not about a few companies ( auDA, Ausregistry / Neustar Inc USA etc)  getting more money from Australians for their own greedy profits and benefits, this is about the credibility of the Australian domain name space in Australia and globally.

      What we have now is working and the way to make it better is to improve what we have now not make it worse.

      Why not .Australia if we are going to try and come up with new unjustifiable additional Australian extensions? Many people globally will think .au is for Austria or other countries!

      Out of the current 3000 available extensions most are failing except the “original” ones .com, .co.uk, .com.au, .co.nz etc.

      When supply and major global companies do not even register in these extensions themselves you know they are useless and just a waste of money.

      No one can justify another .au extension if they are honestly looking at all the facts and reports plus asking actual existing users. Why not ask the current 3 million existing Australian registrants and advise them if they will have the .au extension FREE, if they will get it at all, the benefits it will really give them etc?

      Google ( including  Google’s Matt Cutts expert)  have stated clearly the shorter extensions and many of the new TLD’s are useless for SEO and search engine results/ positioning and claims about that are false.

      To those who think they will get Realestate.au or Carsales.au etc if this comes into existence and you do not already own Realestate.com.au or Carsales.com.au etc  you are dreaming… maybe that will change your opinion. Time to wake up.


      To those in “advertising” look globally and you will find those .uk and .nz not being used by companies who have the .co.uk and .co.nz. In fact most companies have not even registered those shorter options and if they have in many cases they are not renewing them now they are “dropping.”

      94% of .co.uk owners have not bothered to register the shorter .uk option. Most of the 6% registered was just for defensive registrations and the shorter options are just forwarded to the .co.uk name.   If the shorter version  was so much better those registrants would be actually be using them instead but they are not.

      These are some of  the facts many people for another .au extension seem to be ignoring.

      The fact is auDA and the auDA board cannot legally ignore a lot of this information now against direct registrations.  We have the benefit of the 2015/2016 uk and nz results now to consider.  There are legal obligations to review it , re assess the situation and business case or they may find themselves with some very serious problems which would probably include legal ones.

      There will be tens of thousands of .com.au registrants against another competing .au extension who will come out of the woodwork once they realise what has been pushed through.  Many of those may wish to take legal action and they may have a case due to how the survey where done, that where not even contacted as existing registrants and the claims that where perhaps misleading presented previously for it.


  • Avatar
    December 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I don’t think supply side will care much if it does damage to the namespace, it is still a win for the registry and registrars. It is all about selling more registrations overall and I think AUDA is caught up in that as well.

  • Avatar
    December 10, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Just back from 3weeks in Christchurch nz and wanaka. I don’t recall seeing any use of .nz in a public space anywhere, not on billboards, signs, menus, brochures, etc. I agree with much of the blue text above. The whole thing is a waste of time and money.

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