Uniting World Wide Web with gTLDs

Generic top-level domains such as .Asia or .XXX will not lead to fragmented, even gated, Web but can help unite diverse communities with unique views on single platform, says DotAsia CEO.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor
DotAsia CEO

The establishment of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) and internationalized domain names (IDNs) will not result in a more fragmented, complex Web arena to navigate but will allow all communities, regardless of their perspectives and interests, to have an online presence.

Edmon Chung, CEO of DotAsia Organisation, which is the sponsoring organization and registry operator for the .asia gTLD, believes the acceptance of domain names such as .XXX and .gay, for example, are representations of one's views of the world with regard to supporting homogeneity or diversity. And he believes the introduction of these gTLDs will help unite the World Wide Web because it would signify the acceptance of all communities on a single platform.

In Singapore recently for the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board meeting, Chung sat down for a chat with ZDNet Asia and discussed the value of having the .Asia IDN for regional small and midsize businesses (SMBs). He also highlighted the need for a smooth assignation process for these domain names.

Q: DotAsia kicked off the "sunrise" application for Chinese, Korean and Japanese .Asia IDNs on May 11. How's the response and who stands to benefit most?
Chung: The "sunrise" application is currently ongoing until Jul. 25 and is a priority registration period designed to promote a calmer, more orderly process of assigning IDNs compared with a "first-come-first-serve" system.

Similar to the Anglicized .Asia registration process back in 2008, which saw about half a million applications, it takes a while for consciousness of the domain name to sink in with businesses and domain operators. However, SMBs are starting to see the value and possibilities of such IDNs. In big Asian markets such as China, for instance, where hundreds of millions of Internet users search in Chinese, the value of the Chinese .Asia IDN is significant.

In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), the .Asia domain has two main value propositions. First, "Asia" is a natural keyword for people looking for information regarding the region and this naturally brings domain names with the .Asia suffix to the top.

Second, search engines pull up Web sites with the country-code TLD (ccTLD) such as .sg first, and .Asia second, which ranks the .Asia TLD consistently second in searches across all Asian countries, thus, making it first overall.

How is the auction model a "calmer" process?
Compared with the first-come-first-serve model, which would lead to masses of companies looking to log their applications within minutes of its opening, the auction model provides a window of time for interested parties to consider the pros and cons of bidding for their trademark domain name.

This helps prevent our servers from being overloaded and avoid contentious disputes between different stakeholders over the validity of their claims.

The sunrise process for .Asia registration in 2007 to 2008, for instance, had 30,000 trademark holders and global brands registering during that period when 40,000 auctions took place. At the end of the process, there were zero disputes as all parties were provided information of competing claims and could deliberate on whether to cede control of or bid for the domain name.

Won't the slew of new generic top-level domains, including IDNs, fragment the World Wide Web?
I don't believe it will. Any answer to this question relates to one's world views, whether you believe in homogeneity or diversity. I personally subscribe to the diversity standpoint where the potential of bringing the various communities with their unique views online, will actually help unite, rather than fragment, the Web.

What's the difference registering the domain as xxx.gay.com and .gay? In this case, what is the value of having a .gay gTLD?
There is an emotional value to the suffixes such as .gay, similar to that of car plates, for example. Why else would people bid so much for specific car plate numbers? It's this combination of vanity and belonging to a community that makes certain gTLDs important to different groups of people.

The flipside would be that by registering under a certain domain name, this would make it easier for governments to clamp them down. The question then would be: "Are we creating a monster for large-scale censorship?" This view was shared with me during a recent forum I attended and it has since made me reconsider the pros and cons behind having such gTLDs.

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