[GTLD-WG] [CPWG] Some thoughts on the .ORG and yesterday's call
jmcc at hosterstats.com
Wed Dec 4 05:18:14 UTC 2019
On the call, the position of .ORG as the public interest gTLD was made
clear. But its position as the gTLD of choice for non-profit
organisations and other do-gooder organisations is a very fragile one
when it comes to the position of its registrants.
I wrote a book on domain name statistics, gTLD geography and web usage.
(Domnomics - the business of domain names). The first few chapters are
free to read on the "Look Inside" link on the book's Amazon page. They
cover the horror stories, with numbers, of how .EU was plundered and how
Domain Tasting completely destabilised the gTLD market and led to the
rise of the ccTLDs. In the chat on the call, I made the point about the
danger of a Scorpion And The Frog situation arising. Both the .EU
situation and the Domain Tasting situation arose because those tasked
with creating the regulations did not appreciate the ruthlessness of the
domain name industry when it comes to making money. Safeguards have to
be in place for the registrants and community oversight may be problematic.
The shift from non-profit to for-profit seems to be the major problem
but most registrants will be oblivious until the price increases follow.
The worst case is that the whole thing gains media traction and causes
registrants to consider rebranding from .ORG to their local ccTLDs. It
might even give .US ccTLD a boost. The web usage surveys already show
this kind of redirect happening in the gTLD. The .ORG isn't a single set
of non-profit registrants. It has a strong brand protection element
where businesses registered their .ORG at the same time they were
registering their .COM and .NET domain names. It also has a speculative
The danger for .ORG is that its position as a special kind of gTLD is
extremely fragile. The bulk of registrations in the gTLD are on US
registrars. The market momentum has been shifting to ccTLDs over the
past few years and non-profits that operate at a country level are now
using local ccTLDs rather than their .ORG. The decision by PIR to stop
volume discounting in 2018 has improved the overall quality of the gTLD.
The problem for .ORG is that the bad publicity will affect the
registrations and renewals. The current renewal rates for .ORG are quite
solid and stronger than .COM and the other major legacy gTLDs. It also
has a lower percentage of reregistrations than the other legacy gTLDs.
This means that when people register their .ORG, they keep renewing it.
Some of the registrants are in a golden handcuffs situation where they
cannot afford to rebrand to another TLD. They have to keep paying the
renewal fees even if they increase. The golden handcuff part of any TLD
is, once a TLD matures, the most stable part of the registry's revenue
because they, like the brand protection registrations, keep renewing.
However, the taint of a deal done behind closed doors is going to cause
problems for the .ORG and once that position of the gTLD being the
"good" gTLD is gone, it won't return. The situation on the deal and the
justifications for it need to be explained in simple terms so that the
media doesn't get the idea that ISOC shafted the .ORG registrants.
The .ORG is similar to ccTLDs in that its registrants often seem to have
a loyalty to the gTLD and consider it "their" TLD. There needs to be a
greater explanation of the deal and the ISOC people involved need to
explain why they accepted the Ethos deal. ICANN's removal of the price
cap looks extraordinarily iffy even if there was nothing untoward about
it. This really needs to be immediately addressed and simple denials
will not be good enough. The .ORG registrants are not ISOC members and
many don't even know that ISOC exists.
If this current lack of information and lack of transparency continues,
the registrants will become aware and they will start reconsidering
their .ORG registration. The problem is that those reconsiderations
won't become immediately apparent as the registrants will begin to
rebrand. The process might take four years or so but the worst case is
that there will be a drift away from .ORG towards other TLDs such as
ccTLDs. There will be an uptick in ccTLD redirects in the web usage
surveys. At a country level, the .ORG is very much a third choice TLD
after the local ccTLD and .COM. Once that loyalty of the registrants to
"their" TLD is gone, it is very difficult for the registry to recover it.
John McCormac * e-mail: jmcc at hosterstats.com
MC2 * web: http://www.hosterstats.com/
22 Viewmount * Domain Registrations Statistics
Waterford * And Historical DNS Database.
Ireland * Over 516 Million Domains Tracked.
IE * Skype: hosterstats.com
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