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The Internet Businesses

Dotless Top Level Domains? 370

nodnarb1978 writes "As reported on Yahoo, a Dutch company called UnifiedRoot wants to offer top level domains without extensions. For instance, just typing slashdot would bring up this site, instead of slashdot.org. UnifiedRoot is careful to differentiate itself from New.net, but it seems their similar business tactics leave plenty of room for comparison. Another bone of contention is the price: UnifiedRoot wants $1000USD up front for a registration, with an additional $240 yearly renewal. With domain abandonments higher than ever, is this a solution looking for a problem? And would anybody really want to place control of entire TLDs in the hands of one private company?"
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Dotless Top Level Domains?

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  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chipster ( 661352 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:35PM (#14119735)
    The TLD is an important piece of the identifier, IMHO.
    • Agreed!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:51PM (#14119827) Homepage Journal
      The TLDs are VERY important, since they help categorise the structure in terms of a tree and give a clear defintion of who is responsible for which subset of the tree.

      Doing what they are doing could potentially screw up internal networks and cause more problems than it solves. Imagine that all your internal hosts have the prefix "internal" and another site pops up called "internal", we would then have the issue of myhost.internal being difficult to resolve. Is it inside the network or outside? I have already have seen something like this happen when internal domains use .local, yet at the same time .local is reserved for use by mDNS.
      • Re:Agreed!!! (Score:2, Informative)

        by znu ( 31198 )
        This is why it's best to use internal names like "whatever.mycompany.com", even if they're not resolvable from outside the local network. You control mycompany.com; you don't control the top-level namespace, and occasionally stuff will get added to it that you didn't expect.

        (If you really want to distinguish between internal and external names at a glance, you can always use the form "whatever.internal.mycompany.com".)
        • Re:Agreed!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by andreyw ( 798182 )
          What if you DON'T have an external domain? Say... on my home network I want to use my own DNS, but since I don't intend to host anything I don't need an external domain. \
      • by krasmussen ( 891165 ) <krasmussen@gmail . c om> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @05:11PM (#14120184)
        It all blows up the day some hosting company decides to call themselves "localhost".
      • by NigelJohnstone ( 242811 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @05:25PM (#14120236)
        "and give a clear defintion of who is responsible for which subset of the tree."

        You can have that with an unrestricted root, all you've got there is a Bonsai tree, where every multinational has to contort into millions of little sony.com, sony.fr, sony.net etc. domains. Restricting the number of top level domains simply makes for fewer branches, it doesn't remove the tree.

        For example, a company might register .sex and resell domains on that, a competitor may register .xxx and resell domains on that one, yet another may register .sexy and so on. Why should you restrict what top level domains there are? Why force the tree to be a Bonsai?

        "Imagine that all your internal hosts have the prefix "internal" and another site pops up called "internal", "

        Imagine your internal network is called "travel" and ICANN creates a domain .travel....
      • Re:Agreed!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

        What they are proposing will screw up internal networks. If I type "wiggum" into the address bar, I get sent to the admin page for my firewall/router. At the nuiversity I went to, typing just about anything ("webmail", "registrar") takes you to the proper page on the intranet. It's very convenient, but applying it to the whole internet will cause a lot of problems.
        • Re:Agreed!!! (Score:3, Informative)

          by Feyr ( 449684 )
          not really,

          at my company we use something.ourdomain.com

          the dhcp server supply the ourdomain.com suffix to everyone that asks. the dns resolver is bright enough to look up something.ourdomain.com before asking for "something" alone if you type it as such.
      • Re:Agreed!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        And what about browsers where when you type "example" automagically assume "example.com" ??
        What about domain squatters and linkfarms who go forth and gather up all the TLD-less domains?

        Even with just those two thoughts, IMO the potential for abuse and hijacking is just too much.

    • TLDs are an appendix that needs to cut out!!

      I believe each company should own their own TLDs... .IBM, .Mircosoft, ...

      I believe the UN should make money from this!!! Yes the UN!!

      This way there is not a problem with Trademarks in TLD. The UN will hand out International Trademarks.

      Now a country will still rights to their TLDs, so US (or who they wish) can sell to their public. By defination .IBM.US is already mapped to .IBM. So no trademark issues again.

      IF there are sub sub then it keeps going down.

      Once the
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Once there is moon base or mars base, then all TLD come under the planetary TLD of EA (Earth), MR (Mars), MN (Moon). Once there is bases in other solar systems... you get the picture.

        Oh great, so IPV6 is going to be obsolete before it even gets implemented.

      • This way there is not a problem with Trademarks in TLD. The UN will hand out International Trademarks.

        Somehow I can't see the U.S. (and other countries) tossing out their national trademark registries to accommodate a international trademark registry based on domain names.

        Once there is bases in other solar systems... you get the picture.

        To say nothing of the small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri agreeing to interstellar trademarks... especially after all the good ones have been taken!

    • The TLD is an important piece of the identifier, IMHO.

      Identifier for what?

      slashdot.com [slashdot.org]
      microsoft.net [slashdot.org]
      usps.gov [slashdot.org]
      http://www.army.gov/ [army.gov]
      http://www.army.com/ [army.com]

      Thats right, the .biz domains are 99% spam sites, so that does help things. .edu is pretty pure, .gov is pretty pure, but they like .com like everybody else does. .org is fairly worthless, and if it were an important identifier people would use it more, but .com is what everybody except a slashdotter things is a web address. What about .info or .name? Or .museu
      • TLDs _may_ be a useful identifier, but pretty much everybody has to buy most all of the others or sue people to protect their internet name.

        Granted the conventions are routinely flouted, and that those able to enforce them show little inclination to do so. Is that really an argument for making the system easier to abuse?

        That's like trying to reduce crime in a high crime area by removing all the locks,

        • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
          Granted the conventions are routinely flouted, and that those able to enforce them show little inclination to do so. Is that really an argument for making the system easier to abuse?

          Without TLDs, there is nothing to abuse.

          That's like trying to reduce crime in a high crime area by removing all the locks

          Its more like trying to make an argument by analogy by comparing apples and black holes by removing the blackness. 99% of the time arguments by analogy leads to dumbass comments like mine to say how poor the
      • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shmlco ( 594907 )
        "...use the two letter country identifier to assist in commerce..."

        Actually, we need more than those. I'd like to see more domains like sheerdelight.co.us or goldendragon.ca.us. Each state is, after all, responsible for the business names of those who do business within the state, and you just know that a "golden dragon restaurant" exists in every state. As is, the first one who gets there locks out the other 49.

        Not to mention the fact that it would vastly benefit local search relevance if I could const

        • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cowscows ( 103644 )
          But what about a company like Microsoft, or Apple, or Google, or Toyota, or heck, just about any company out there big enough to span multiple countries? Which state would Walmart get their TLD through? I believe they have their headquarters in arkansas, but I've never been to one in that state. Trying to figure that out would be a pain in the ass. What state is Amazon.com based in? I don't have to know that, I don't have to look it up, and I like it that way.

          When I started my personal website, I lived in M
      • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

        by baadger ( 764884 )
        The solution of course is to ditch .com, and restrict .org and .net and move to country based TLD's entirely. The .com, .net and .org TLD's should be kept for purely international matters that concern everyone on the planet. .com -> .co.cctld .org -> .org.cctld .net -> .net.cctld

        People could cope, it's just the politics and legal battles that'd ensue. Sad really.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No Thanks? Why would anyone turn down these "Topless Dot-Level Do-maids"?
  • The fact that a DNS server requires next to no bandwidth, cpu power or other facilities. Then they charge you stupid fees "per year" for the privilege...

    I say make all DNS queries recursive [throw out the cache] and make the domain owners earn their money.

    I wouldn't mind a slightly slower net if it meant I could piss off some grubby TLD exec :-)

    Tom
    • Some of those high fees I'm sure are being used to 'bribe' ISPs - certainly the ISPs mentioned in the article - to change their DNS configuration to point to unifiedroot's DNS servers.
    • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:51PM (#14119828) Homepage
      The fact [is] that a DNS server requires next to no bandwidth, cpu power or other facilities

      This depends upon the amount of traffic you're handling. I suspect that the .com name servers spend more than $10/year of bandwidth and CPU time answering requests for google.com.
    • by saikatguha266 ( 688325 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:58PM (#14120119) Homepage
      Oddly enough, DNS does use a fair bit of bandwidth (~13Gbps at the root servers based on numbers in [1]). Adding a new TLD involves adding an entry to these root servers. The root servers already have a hard time answering queries for ~300 TLD's that are quite cachable (60-85% are queries that should have been cached but are not [1]). Adding thousands of additional TLD's which are harder to cache only exuberates this problem. Add to the fact that the root servers are a central point of failure, and represent a big target for DDoS; they require a lot of extra provisioning and security. Medling with the DNS root is no laughing matter.

      Now I don't know how these guys came up with their cost numbers, and whether or not they are justifiable, but I am pretty sure that adding a DNS TLD will cost them a fair bit.

      [1] http://www.caida.org/outreach/papers/2001/DNSMeasR oot/dmr.pdf [caida.org]
  • Now AOL is in trouble as they are no longer the one to use keywords... oh wait...

    • Re:Keywords (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guspaz ( 556486 )
      You can, in some browsers, already use keywords as a sort of domain.

      Take Firefox for example. I no longer type "slashdot.org" or "teknews.net" into the address bar. I simply type "slashdot" or "teknews". Firefox realizes the domain doesn't exist, and does a Google "I'm Feeling Lucky" search. In most case it sends me to the site whose name ends in that domain.

      What about domains where the keyword doesn't link to the domain? Well, if I type "firefox" into the address bar and hit enter, I'm not going to go to f
  • AOL keywords (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BushCheney08 ( 917605 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:37PM (#14119747)
    This sounds almost like AOL's keywords, except on an internet-wide basis. We really don't need further AOLification of the internet...Also, several browsers already tack on .com if you just type a single word into the address bar.
    • Re:AOL keywords (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zlogic ( 892404 )
      I think many browsers don't add .com to the address but rather do a "I'm feeling lucky" search for the address typed if they fail to load the website directly.
  • by jZnat ( 793348 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:37PM (#14119751) Homepage Journal
    Many web browsers will (by default) submit a domainless word to a search engine like Google unless the domain is covered by your hosts file. How will this work if we don't get direct access to the root DNS' collective hosts files? How will your browser know the difference between typing in "slashdot" to mean the URL "http://slashdot/" or that you want to search for slashdot, thus the URL being "http://www.google.com/search?q=slashdot"?
  • Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:37PM (#14119753)
    I'm a small fry with a non-commercialized, free site and service that can't afford $1,000 + $240/yr.

    Big company comes in and wants to roll right over me. It's bad enough when someone takes your domain name (but under .net/.org, etc - instead of your own .com). Imagine when someone decides to pony up the cash to completely wipe you out by taking out a rootless domain in your .com domain's name?

    And sure, technically you may be able to fight it in court. But if you can't afford the $1,000 + $240/yr, how the hell are you going to afford an IP / trademark lawyer and a lawsuit?
    • Re:Problem (Score:2, Interesting)

      I see your point about the money and there is no way I want to see control of TLD's in the hands of a single, private company.

      But the concept behind the flat top level namespace actually solves the problem you speak of. Imagine, as a small company, coughing up a reasonable initial and annual fee to register a single domain. No worries that someone will come along and grab .org and .net minutes after you register .com. The worst someone can do to you is misspell yours slightly in hopes people will somehow ge
      • Re:Problem (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Seumas ( 6865 )
        Not everyone is a small company, however.

        I'll continue with my own situation as an example since it probably represents that of many other people out there.

        I operate a very niche auction site that has been around since 1998. It has about 35,000 members. It is completely free. I don't make a dime and the very specialized and unobtrusive advertising I sell on the site goes entirely to pay the hardware and bandwidth fees. I don't charge or make a single dime off of the site (in fact, I've spent about $25,000 o
  • Why not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by suso ( 153703 ) *
    one of the guys that I worked with in the 90s always thought that they should just drop TLDs or make is to that everyone could register their own TLDs. I kinda agree with him now. It sure would solve the problem with people registering .com, .net and .org and people going to .com when the address is .org, etc.
    • That defeats the purpose of a great system, which takes the form of extensions. The reason for the extentions is to organize websites into their respective topics, so that you will (generally) know either a sites orientation or location. Thinking about eBay, it is much more useful for me to go to eBay.ca then it is for me to go to eBay.com
      • "The reason for the extentions is to organize websites into their respective topics,"

        JonN.Troll?
        JonN.Programmer?

        A website can be about more than one thing, a website can be about something other than Commerce, Network, Organisation, or geographically related, it can change it purpose over time.

        Look at it this way, if assigning a rigid set of arbitrary classifications is such a great idea why not do it in other areas? Nobody forced you to choose JonN.SysAdmin or some other arbitrary identifier, why should th
      • You cannot everyone organized, except by law. And even then its difficult.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    they dont even know that you can type into the address line of the web browser. their homepage usually has a 'search' box, they type in 'ebay.com' into the search bar or 'cnn.com' and thats how they get to the website they are looking for.

    if they type in 'cnn' instead to the search bar it wont matter much if the tld is changed.

    although i guess some people would love this feature, especially people trying to run scams ('http://disney' goes to a porn site or someones ebay toy store for example).. which means
  • long domain names (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rd4tech ( 711615 ) * on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:39PM (#14119767)
    by their idea, after 10 years, if one wants to register a domain name, the only left ones will be 20 characters minimum. Some division and grouping SHOULD exist.
    • " the only left ones will be 20 characters minimum"
      I don't see why.
      It's already a 7 letter minimum because all the 3 letter combinations are registered
      ???.com ???.net etc.

      You're freeing up the allocation of the last 4 letters making them more flexible, instead of being from a restricted set (.com .net etc.), so why would it be any worse than it is today?

      "Some division and grouping SHOULD exist."
      Why? Why not .France and .Tofu and .Canon and .SwimmingPoolsInMexico-are-us?

      They don't apply restrictions on choic
  • The dot is useful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach ( 702856 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:42PM (#14119778) Homepage Journal
    The dot lets you know you're talking about a website. If you see a commercial and it says "go to getfirefox.com" you know you are supposed to type that into your web browser. If people hear instead "go to getfirefox" that will require further explanation...
    • Speaking of Firefox, when I type in "slashdot" Firefox recognizes that it isn't a URL and takes me to the best guess from google. On all the major sites, it works like a charm. In that sense, we have a functional wrapper around around the concept of dotless domain names.
  • "And would anybody really want to place control of entire TLDs in the hands of one private company?"

    Why not? Under this new system, TLDs would hardly be in short supply. I would argue that nobody but this site would have a claim to the .slashdot TLD. By the same token, I could claim the .msmercenary TLD and it wouldn't bother google in the least. Does anybody take up arms that one private company owns the rights to the novell.com 2LD?

    The only reason there would be any kind of problem with one private co
  • how would they prevent other companies from making their own dotless tlds?
  • Already Tried? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tachys ( 445363 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:46PM (#14119804)
    This has already been tried http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/ 2164841 [searchenginewatch.com] by Realnames
  • by hardlined ( 785357 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:46PM (#14119805) Homepage
    What's to stop someone from buying the com domain and using the subdomains to imitate the real domains for example someone buys org and sets up the subdomain slashdot.org

    I don't see how you would differentiate between slashdot.org and slashdot.org, one using a subdomain of an extensionless org TLD.
    • Presumably, they'd make org/com/info etc reserved names that you can't register. They'd then be forced to revoke any dotless TLD that became a real TLD later. Presumably that risk will be covered by their contract.
    • I think they would just bar anyone from registering com, org, net, etc. as domains.
    • slashdot.org is a subdomain of the top-level domain 'org'. This scheme is trying to sell off rights to additional top-level domains for a grand apiece. As such, com, org, net, uk, etc are already taken.

      Honestly, I think it's kind of a bargain. Imagine how much cash you'd get if you had a dollar for every domain registered under 'uk', or even something obscure like 'info'. Whoever gets and squats your 3-5 letter vulgarities will be very wealthy ...
      • it WOULD be a bargin if theese names were on the official dns system but they aren't!

        and what company is going to wan't to put an internet name that the vast majority of users cannot resolve on thier advertising?
  • Doesn't anyone remember "Real Names"? A company that sold "keywords" during the dotcom boom to many sucker companies? Of course, without the "Real Names" plug-in, you wouldn't see them.
  • Calling these "Top Level Domains" is a bit of a misnomer, because - although technically accurate - they probably wouldn't be used very much in that way. They're domains with a nul top level. If you want to invent and control your own hierarchical TLD (e.g. "dot slash"); just do like New.net, rather than forking over money to these people.

    I'm sure this idea sounds nice to people who are too lazy (or confused) to type a TLD, but it would be a nightmare to implement effectively on any large scale. And sinc

    • Another thought about why this probably won't catch on: The public won't get it.

      The AOL-using masses out there have already been trained too well to put .COM on the end of everything. I have a hard time explaining to people that they don't need to put a WWW. on the front of (for example) MICROSOFT.TODDVERBEEK.COM or a .COM on the end of GRAPHICNOVELS.INFO. If you give them a plain "domain name" such as HOLYCOMICS, they won't know what to do except enclose it in WWW.*.COM

  • by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <.oliverthered. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:55PM (#14119845) Journal
    What's wrong with doing a google for slashdot if the user doesn't type in the TLD? It would help out loads by being able list a companies web site even if they don't own their prefered domain name.
  • Hmm, Firefox does that already:
    Type any bare domain name, 'slashdot' will do, into the Firefox address box and it will do a Google I'm feeling lucky search and go there.
  • So how are they going to convince Firefox from withholding me from automatically sending me to the 'I am feeling lucky'-Google-link when typing in a word in the Navigation toolbar (as it does right now).
    I think this idea makes no sense, aside from trying to grab some quick cash.
  • by Xaroth ( 67516 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:02PM (#14119874) Homepage
    Who wants to be the first to register "com", and have the entire internet be reduced to a subnet of your domain?
  • I kind of like this idea. It creates something like a trademark. Very heavily used websites buy these $1000 domains while normal websites don't bother. Except for the fact that I see no reason this shouldn't go to a good cause rather than some company it actually strikes me as sort of reasonable. Yahoo, Oracle, GM... should own their "trademarks".
  • localhost? (Score:5, Funny)

    by comwiz56 ( 447651 ) <`comwiz' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:13PM (#14119914) Homepage
    What happens when someone registers http://localhost/ [localhost] ?
  • I've often heard the argument that DNS should lose its heirarchy and just be a one-to-one mapping. Like telephone numbers to names.

    However, the good thing about the hierarchy is you only have to register one domain, then you can have as many sub domains as you want without going through your registrar.

    With this new system you'd have to register each of your domains seperately, right?
    • erm phone numbers most certainly are heirarcial!

      at the top level you have a country code.
      then some kind of area code.
      then some kind of exchange code (and companies can buy whole exchange codes if they have lots of phones)
      and finally a number for the individual phone.

      however unlike domain names phone numbers have STRICT length rules (generally numbers are fixed length within a country and theres iirc a standard maximum for the full international number) so if you wan't more lines you have to buy more/bigger
  • And when somebody tries to change the status quo on the DNS, people start complaining: "It isn't broke, don't fix it!"

    And no, this is not the first time someone abuses the DNS system, people should know better.

  • Reality check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rpetre ( 818018 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:32PM (#14119999)
    You do, of course, realise that those "no-dot" TLDs will be visible only by the clients of the ISPs that use the alternate DNS root. The ICANN does not include these domains into the root zone and all DNS servers use by default ICANN's root servers ( [A-M].root-servers.net )

    I guess there are still a large number of companies willing to throw money into this, so the theory of stupidity-based business models being a guaranteed success is once again confirmed.
  • I concur with many people that this has some pretty obvious drawbacks. But on the other hand, I (and, I believe, a lot of other /.ers) are equally against the new TLDs like .biz and .info and .name and all that other rubbish, because they merely serve to provide still more domain names that small companies need to buy in advance just to be safe when they get the .com to use. There are too many TLDs already.

    I would be in favour of freezing the number of TLDs as it currently is and reducing that number wher

  • The problem is what I stated in the Subject line - when you remove the top level domain, the domain in this case becomes the top level domain itself. So what they're doing, for all intents, is running an alternate root and charging obscene amounts of money for the privilege of registering on it.

    No thank you.

  • I want a peer to peer DNS service that works like ant trails. You form connections to your peers, and names migrate according to requests.
    For example, my peers would people from #haskell, people I know in person, my family, anyone I interact with.
    When I look up the name 'slashdot' the request is sent to all (some?) of my peers. I'd get the number one result automaticaly (feeling lucky?) but be able to look at other results. Then I'd choose my definition of slashdot, and that would go into my local cache.
  • a few idiots will buy names in it for brand protection or because they are gullible but i doubt many will seriously use it.

  • Two things: I use fake TLDs for private (192.168) networks. They resolve for me and nobody else. I don't want to have to keep changing it every time somebody registers my fake TLD. Secondly, single names are currently reserved for hostnames. When I type in "ssh anduril" I know it's going to hostname anduril and not domain name anduril.
  • by speculatrix ( 678524 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @07:11PM (#14120645)
    I want to buy .localhost. and CNAME it to goatsex or other famous nasty site.

    that would finally encourge all the idiot windows lusers which don't know how to set up DNS properly!

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