Reflections On A Sunday – 24 April

NeddyAnzac Day tomorrow – and obviously that is a very special day here in Townsville (being home to many Defence Force personnel).

Just on a moment of personal indulgence, here is a picture of me from around 40 years ago when I was a member of 1st Armoured Regiment based in Puckapunyal, Victoria. My how the time has flown. ūüôā

Reflection 1

What a challenge lies ahead of auDA. Implementing direct registrations in a fair and transparent manner is chief amongst these challenges.

Lots of potential issues arise. Just off the top of my head, here are a few:

  • Who will be the registry for the new extension? Some Directors are saying that it won’t necessarily be the same registry that manages the existing .au namespace, but it will be impractical if it isn’t imho. Particularly if you are managing prior rights to existing registrants. Given that Australia is looking at how the UK and NZ managed their respective transitions, there is only one registry involved in their namespaces.
  • I’ve written previously about who really benefits from direct registrations. But there are some others who will indirectly benefit as well. Number one on the list would have to be the legal profession. Imagine how many “cease and desist” letters will be issued should direct registrations happen (without proper regard for existing registrants). How many more auDRP proceedings will be issued?
  • Following on from the point above, one would suppose that the “complaints department” at auDA will also have to expand exponentially.

Reflection 2

For those auDA Directors salivating at the thought of direct registrations, once again I urge you to look at the unpopularity of .uk. I have banged on about this for a year, but no one really wants to listen.

No matter how you try and dress it up; or spin the situation, it has been a dismal failure. Lipstick on a pig?

Most businesses prefer the tried and tested .co.uk extension. Huge corporations like Google and Amazon only use .co.uk. If you don’t believe me, get online and try and resolve google.uk and amazon.uk!

In fact, just having a look at the Nominet website this morning, they even fess up themselves as to why this is. Have a read for yourself here.

UK domain Nominet

UK domain Nominet 2

But what tells the real story are the statistics provided by Nominet (the UK equivalent of auDA). Two tables below – the first is total domains under management (third level means domains like .co.uk; second level means .uk).

However, it is the second table that really tells the true story. These are new registrations – not affected by prior rights. The public is voting with their feet – .co.uk is still the domain of choice. This is despite Nominet throwing heaps of money at marketing campaigns; and registrars offering .uk for peanuts.

screenshot-www nominet uk 2016-04-24 09-19-07

screenshot-www nominet uk 2016-04-24 09-19-51


Disclaimer

Disclaimer 2

 

16 thoughts on “Reflections On A Sunday – 24 April

  • April 24, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    It really just exposes the stupidity of those responsible.

    This is a story of how vested interests will stuff the most trusted domain in the world.

    • April 30, 2016 at 1:33 am
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      Money grab by means of forcing people to protect their names, thus “double dipping”.

  • April 24, 2016 at 2:16 pm
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    It’s so abundantly obvious the introduction of direct registrations is for the extra money doing so creates, basically from nothing! auDa should come clean and simply state this truth.

  • April 24, 2016 at 8:35 pm
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    If I correctly understand the process, a Panel recommended to auDa that direct registrations should be introduced. Then auDa’s 11 directors, who have the sole authority to approve or dismiss the introduction of direct registrations, voted to introduce them?

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 25, 2016 at 11:00 am
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      @Barry – basically that is it in a nutshell.

      Of course, they did do their own market research first just to make sure the public mood was behind it.

      What was that question they asked again? Oh that’s right, it was something akin to:

      “If you had the choice to get extra chocolates into your Christmas stocking, how likely would you be to eat them?”

      And then it was Jingle Bells thereafter.

  • April 25, 2016 at 9:57 am
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    On this my opinion diverges from yours, Ned.

    While it’s true that 2LD .UK registrations numbers are low in comparison to the more established 3LD .CO.UK, this disparity may be a temporary illusion. ¬†For the first 5 years, most .UK domains aren’t really open to the broader market at all. ¬†They can only be registered by 1 person ‚Äď the owner of the matching .CO.UK domain. ¬†Understandably, those registrants are mostly in no hurry to double their fees. ¬†During this 5-year period, .UK is seldom put to use; and, as it’s rarely seen, it’s rarely the first choice for purchase or display.

    But at the 5th-year transition, the majority of active British websites ought to ‚Äď and, unless they’re willing to undergo real risk of brand dilution, will ‚Äď register matching .UK domains. ¬†All at once, the 2LD .UK name space will become saturated ‚Äď if not due to brand protection by preexisting .CO.UK owners, acting in response to emails from their registrars, then thanks to¬†domainers like us gobbling up the best 2LD .UK strings. ¬†We wouldn’t expect .UK registrations to catch up to .CO.UK gradually ‚Äď not while they’re¬†set aside on the shelf like this … not while registrants can save money by procrastinating the inevitable. ¬†.UK is in a period of dormancy.

    After .CO.UK registrants are obligated to protect their brands by activating the¬†2LD .UK domains to which they’re entitled, I suspect many of them will put the shorter domains to use. ¬†After all, they’ll be paying for both versions anyway. ¬†I expect that .UK will ultimately reach parity with .CO.UK in terms of registration numbers. ¬†.UK will be displayed, phased in over perhaps a decade ‚Äď not displacing .CO.UK entirely but appearing alongside it. ¬†That’s what I see with .IN / .CO.IN and .MX / .COM.MX. ¬†The 2LD versions really are preferred to the 3LD versions in those countries. ¬†Just the other day,¬†I found 8.2% availability in .IN compared to 54.1% in .CO.IN for the same set of strings. ¬†And I’ve been unable to sell 1 .COM.MX domain to a company that already purchased the matching .MX domain from me several years ago ‚Äď regardless of price.

    Of course, I don’t think that 2LD .UK domains were something British businesses or consumers needed anymore than Australians need the extra cost and hassle of 2LD .AU domains. ¬†However,¬†we can’t look at .UK adoption rates right now as an accurate measure of what’s to come.

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 25, 2016 at 10:48 am
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      Joseph, I understand what you are saying. However, I’m not sure if you get my point exactly.

      Yes, there are a lot of .uk domains that won’t “come onto the market” for 5 years. And when they do, there will be mostly defensive registrations.

      But it’s the second table that gives the true indicator of what’s happening. (Not just in my opinion either – but in the opinion of many UK domainers who I regularly speak to).

      Those are brand new registrations. Not renewals. In other words, the .co.uk is available is available for registration, so therefore technically so is the .uk. Registrants are still opting for the tried, tested and popular domain extension by a ratio of say 8 to 1 this year. Last year, the ratio was about 5 to 1 from memory.

      As part of the Names Panel process, I put these stats to every member. Of course they couldn’t explain it (or didn’t want to countenance the possibility of failure of .au). So what did they do? They employed distraction and said “look at how good .NZ is doing”. Yeah, right.

      I think your long term view will be correct Joseph – but there is going to be a lot of pain for a lot of people until we get there. And the ultimate question will be “was it really necessary?”. How do “defensive registrations” PROPERLY grow the market?

      Your last paragraph – totally agree with your first sentence. Respectfully disagree with your last one. I believe what happened in the UK will play out here – that’s what my crystal ball says. ūüėČ

  • April 25, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    @Ned O’Meara,

    I understand your point about new .CO.UK registrations outpacing new .UK registrations. ¬†And it’s an important point. ¬†Personally, I don’t think¬†that discrepancy in registration rates will persist. ¬†That hunch of mine is based on the evidence from ccTLD markets like .MX and .IN in which both 3LD and 2LD domains have existed side by side for a number of years ‚Äď comparably priced, available to all comers, out in the open. ¬†What has happened there I expect will happen in the UK also.

    That’s simply my hypothesis, of course. ¬†And I’m talking about a long-term outlook. ¬†Most likely, there will be a lingering discrepancy in registration rates for a few years even after the 5-year .UK grandfathering period has elapsed. ¬†Websites won’t change their domains overnight, and our¬†habits are naturally conservative.

    People emulate the status quo and the trends¬†they see ‚Äď whatever those happen to be. ¬†My supposition is that UK registrants are continuing to register .CO.UK preferentially because .CO.UK websites remain¬†predominantly what they see. ¬†And that’s no surprise. ¬†Given the grandfathered rights, we’d expect 99% of the best 2LD .UK domains to be tied up for half a decade, not even registered. ¬†But this situation will change.

    After .UK really kicks off at the 5-year-point, ¬†2LD usage rates should¬†climb. ¬†A few brands ‚Äď forced to register the 2LD for brand protection ‚Äď will go 1 step farther and display .UK. ¬†Then British consumers, noticing that brand’s¬†2LD domain, will be slightly more predisposed to register and use a 2LD themselves. ¬†And so forth. ¬†It’s a¬†feedback loop. ¬†It isn’t instantaneous, and it isn’t going to happen during the 5-year grandfathering period while¬†.UK domains aren’t even registered. ¬†Really, the starting whistle hastened even been blown yet for .UK.

    We’ve seen such feedback loops play out¬†before ‚Äď new suffixes being adopted in response to seeing those new suffixes in developed websites. ¬†Plenty of ccTLDs have gone through this already ‚Äď e.g. .IN and .MX. ¬†Another example would be the .IO trend among tech startups. ¬†Initially there were¬†just a few .IO domains being developed. ¬†Gradually other tech entrepreneurs saw those oddities and imitated them ‚Äď yes, even to the point of cliche. ¬†Within a matter of years,¬†something like 1 in 20 tech startups receiving VC funding is using a .IO. ¬†(I forget the exact percentage, but it’s surprisingly high.) ¬†No, I don’t own any .IO. ¬†Actually, I expect it to lose ground to the nTLDs.

    Switching to a 2LD (or changing domains at all) is a moderate pain in the neck for British webmasters managing established sites. ¬† Even so, companies do change domains from time to time. ¬†And they forward¬†new domains to old domains in marketing campaigns, which is easier and raises awareness. ¬†That will happen to some degree with .UK. ¬†Meanwhile,¬†when it’s a new website we’re talking about,¬†choosing .UK versus .CO.UK is a more balanced choice. ¬†Right now the bias is towards .CO.UK because .CO.UK is what people see. ¬†That’s a conservative effect ‚Äď mirroring the status quo. ¬†Yet¬†we all have¬†a natural bias toward shorter domains. ¬†Gradually that will tip the balance. ¬†To whatever degree a minority of registrants inclines toward the 2LD, that affects¬†usage, which affects visibility, which (in turn) affects the status quo people are emulating.

    Currently .UK adoption rates are experiencing a blockage ‚Äď a desirable blockage, I’d say, but not one that will last.

     

  • April 25, 2016 at 1:24 pm
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    Based on the fact that the list of cons to introducing direct registrations far outweighs the list of pros, to the extent that direct registrations should not be introduced, I’m curious why auDA’s board voted to introduce them?

    I’m not familiar with any of auDA’s 11 directors, but based on the companies they work for it seems some of them represent supply based organisations that stand to potentially make millions of dollars in revenue from direct registrations. How does the auDA board’s decision therefore benefit Australia and Australians?

    The above does not sound just. Am I wrong or am I missing something?

    • April 25, 2016 at 11:03 pm
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      That pretty much sums it up.

       

      It just doesn’t benefit the public at all.

  • Ned O'Meara
    April 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm
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    Sorry Allen J – can’t publish your comment.

    There is one sentence in there about auDA Directors that will potentially get me into a lot of trouble if I do. If you can rephrase, that would be great.

    • April 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm
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      That’s a pity as I’ve lost the comment and don’t have a copy of it… hopefuly you do, and can paste it here with that sentence removed.

      I don’t want you to get into any trouble. I really admire you! Thank you for your blog and all the work you do!

      • Ned O'Meara
        April 25, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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        @Allen J – I have done my best to fix it. Now published.

  • April 26, 2016 at 8:32 am
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    This situation is especially saddening to me given I whole heartedly believed auDA’s position in the industry was that they represented the whole industry, fairly. Their decision to introduce direct registrations only benefits a few.

    By the Board proceeding with the introduction of direct registrations, based on their claimed reasons, is in my opinion an abuse of the organisation’s authority bestowed upon them by the government of trust and power, for self interest’s sake.

    I just lost a little bit more of my faith in humanity, and a lot of my respect for auDA.

  • April 29, 2016 at 12:16 am
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    Thanks for your service to Australia Ned. You are a champion all around. Good photo

  • April 30, 2016 at 1:48 am
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    Love the photo, Ned, you look like a champion then, as you are now.

    Imaginary domain names on the internet are nowhere near as important as the real life you were going through at the time of this photo. Still, thanks for taking the time to defend the rights of ordinary Australian Business’s web presence (although none of them even know it yet!), as well as Australian¬†domainer’s¬†rights to have a voice against this unrelenting change that we are all (we Australian businesses with websites) being forced to deal with, and not being given a fair chance to vote on.

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