I’m In The Maybe Camp

Maybe DFC

My article yesterday about “Rocking The Boat” has produced some good comments – and raised some pertinent issues. I’ve now got enough material to make a post every day for the rest of the month!

So let’s get straight to the point.

At the very best, I am only a “maybe” when it comes to introducing the ability to register domain names directly under .au – e.g. Domainer.au


For a start, I simply don’t understand the need? Why we would want to go through the pain and aggravation of trying to bring in such a change (more on this another time).

In Australia, there are approximately 3,000,000 domains registered in total – of which about 86% are com.au domains. That’s about 2,580,000.

Compare this figure to .com domains. Guess how many there are registered? Roughly 116,000,000. No mistakes with zero’s – that is 116 million dot com domains that are currently registered. I guess it is fair to say that we have a long way to go to catch up!

The “For It” Case

Proponents of allowing registrations directly under .au argue the following main points:

  • It will open up the space & allow businesses to register domains that have previously been unavailable.
  • Much shorter to type, therefore they are preferable.
  • Shorter names are more appealing and more memorable. They would make the domain name system simpler and easier to use.
  • Many other domain spaces around the world have done it, therefore Australia is lagging behind.
  • A registrar recently said that they receive a large number of requests for .au domains from their clients, suggesting that they would be incredibly popular.

The first point is very debatable. Some of the others are valid – but are they sufficient to change the whole system that has been working reasonably well until now?

I don’t think so – particularly if there are defensive registrations.

What I would like to see change

Yesterday I took Brett Fenton (fellow Names Panel member) to task over some comments he had written on the TPP Wholesale blog. He has since responded to me in the comments section yesterday, and I thank him for that.

As I said, I like Brett, as he is one of the most straight up guys you could hope to meet. Calls a spade a spade (as do I).

What we do agree on though is:

  • The need for individuals to be able to register a domain without the need for an ABN.
  • Less rules and red tape than currently exist.

I think the above could (and should) be achieved within the current framework.


If the majority consensus of respondents to the current survey are in favour of adopting direct registrations; but on the basis of adequate protection for existing registrants (either via NZ or UK model), then I would go along with it.

There are a few “if’s and but’s there – which is why at this stage I am a “maybe”.

Over to you!


Important Disclaimer

  • I am a member of the auDA 2015 Names Policy Panel.
  • I am also a domainer / domain investor with a substantial portfolio of com.au domain names.

12 thoughts on “I’m In The Maybe Camp

  • September 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    So he reckons we need to piss off 86% of current domain owners so that individuals can get a domain name without the red tape issues that have built trust in the .com.au?

    Yeah nah.

  • September 10, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    People get annoyed when you compare real estate to domain names on the internet, but people need to get over this, because real estate is the best analogy you can use when it comes to domain names.

    There is only so much real estate on Earth. If you miss out on living directly across the road from the beach, you have to buy a street back. You can’t just magically create a new piece of land in front of the house directly across the road from the beach. People will get angry at you because it’s not fair! You were TOO LATE. You could, of course, offer a lot of money to BUY the house directly across from the beach. And that’s the way it should be.

    First wins. Second takes the bus.

    Just like good real estate, there are only so many good domain names on the internet.

    And although there are only so many unique, meaningful dictionary words for businesses to describe themselves, and there is definitely a finite number of search terms, dictionary words and compound phrases to use, Neddy has brought up a very important point…

    If the Americans can find 116 million .com names to use, I believe we have a LONG LONG way to go if we’re only at 2.6 million names, before we have to start thinking about turning our existing system on its head.

    That being said, if a majority wants it, I have no problem with. It doesn’t make sense to me – but majority rules, right?! As long as the existing “people who worked really hard to buy houses directly across from the beach” don’t get screwed.

    • September 10, 2015 at 6:41 pm


      There is no better comparison than your real estate analogy

      My question is
      “What would happen if the local authorities suddenly decided to build up the shoreline and create a new street in front of the beachfront home on the Gold Coast or in Sydney, Perth, Glenelg etc?”

      I am a domain investor with a substantial portfolio of com.au domain names

      Therefore I have a vested interest in preserving the value of my beachfront property as do all com.au registrants

      • September 10, 2015 at 8:50 pm

        G’day Greg,

        I like this game. Wish I could sound like I know it all, but I have no idea what would happen in that circumstance. What I do believe would happen though, at the very least, is… the current beachfront home dwellers would first panic, then hold intense meetings at each other’s houses to discuss their options!

      • September 11, 2015 at 6:36 am

        Greg, that’s a great question. I’ve been discussing a similar analogy recently (but based on Townsville).

        I can tell you what would happen as a start. The local Council would have to extensively advertise the proposal first; plus send every affected owner a letter advising them of their intention.

        This would allow every single owner to take advice and react accordingly. That is democracy, best practise, and rule of law.

  • September 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    the reasons for .au are immensely flawed, the real estate analogy is totally correct, we have 3mil rego’s and GROWING, its just not growing fast enough for the money grabbers.

    “second takes the bus” is the correct term, and its not about domainers only, its about small business.
    this is public knowledge but have a look at this, http://screencast.com/t/DFVRAGVi

    these are small businesses that are going to have a horrible experience if .au comes in or doesn’t come in correctly, only one of them owns the .com.au and has done since I got them to register it in 2001, yep, 2001 ! a perfect example of whats to come.

  • September 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    ‘The need for individuals to be able to register a domain without the need for an ABN.’

    This is long overdue. It’s a travesty IMO that everyday Australians have been overlooked for so long.

    Thank goodness auDA are starting to accept that id.au is/was an ugly failure and there’s no point continuing to ram it down people’s throats. (on that note, have they given up spending millions on the CDGNs (http://www.auda.org.au/blog/an-intro-to-community-geographic-domain-names/))

    I do worry that it’s almost a case of ‘too little, too late’. I guess individuals (and bloggers, students, special interest groups, micro businesses etc) will still want to set up websites with an Australian identity but I wonder at the hundreds of thousands of Aussies so far that have been forced to use a .com or a .biz etc. Will they change over? Probably not….

    • September 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      Good comment David – thanks. I know it’s something you have been passionate about for a long time.

  • September 17, 2015 at 8:09 am

    In the article above, I said that there were approximately 116 million dot com domain names.

    Verisign have just produced their 2nd Quarter Report for 2015, and this shows that .com is still growing. https://www.verisign.com/assets/domain-name-report-september2015.pdf

    “As of June 30, 2015, the base of registered names in .com equaled 118.5 million names, while .net equaled 15 million names”.

    The obvious question remains: do we really need to effectively double our .au market when we are still only sitting at 3 million registrations?

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