In my day job (honestly I do have one!) I run one of the largest registrars / resellers of IE domains (the IE ccTLD is the domain name for Ireland).
In the course of doing that I have spent quite a lot of time becoming accustomed to the rules and regulations that govern both the naming and general registration criteria of IE domains.
In some cases I can understand why rules are the way they are, whereas in others I am completely baffled.
I've written about matters affecting the various stakeholders in the IE namespace on several occassions in the past, but I don't feel that I have really tackled the personal domain issue in quite some time.
Over a year ago I wrote a short "howto" on registering IE domains as an individual. While that article was not exhaustive it did attempt to cover some of the more salient points.
Several months previously I had broached the subject of the personal IE domains.
At the time I was focussed more on a separate 2nd level domain for this purpose, similar to the way New Zealand has geek.nz or the UK has me.uk.
When I revisit the topic 18 months later my views have changed a small bit, but not that much.
I still think that there should be a couple of second level domains available within the IE namespace.
Well, to put it simply, if there were a couple of separate "spaces" then the perception of "privilege" could be diluted without damaging the namespace's main root.
If we work on the premise that a managed registry has several advantages for stakeholders (namely IE registrants and those of us involved in the industry) then being able to cater for the growing demand for personal, or vanity, domain names could be catered for without there being any conflict.
The concept of the managed registry becomes increasingly important when you take into consideration the upsurge in online fraud and phishing which has become a serious headache over the last couple of years. By validating each and every application for a .ie domain, be that at the registrar/reseller level or within the registry itself stakeholders and the public at large can be afforded a higher level of security. Putting it more colloquially, an e-commerce site that trades using a .ie should be able to give you the "warm fuzzies", as you, the consumer, will have some assurances that the domain belongs to a real person or business. With .com it is possible to register thousands of domains while providing completely bogus registrant information.
While the IEDR whois output can be problematic at times (it causes confusion for novices) they have made several improvements over the last couple of years, including the addition of a domain status field, which can show you at a glance whether a domain is "active" or "suspended". The "locked" status is a messy one, and is beyond the scope of this piece.
Under the current rules only a select group of people may register their own name. If you are a published author, politician, public figure or sole trader (trading as yourself) you may be able to register yourfullname.ie
However, if you are "Joe Public" or, as is increasingly the case, "Joe Blogger", you cannot normally register your name unless you play with the rules.
Once people start playing with the rules a domain name space may run into issues and its perceived value could be reduced significantly in the eyes of both the general public and stakeholders (there's enough material on that kind of carry on for several articles!).
If, on the other hand, a special space, such as me.ie were created with much looser rules it could help solve a lot of issues.
When I last mentioned the subject I had a shortlist of pre-requisites that I felt needed to be addressed for a move of this kind to be viable:
Let's look at each one in turn:
In the latter half of 2006 the IEDR technical team led by Billy Glynn and working hand in hand with the staff of resellers implemented an API.
It is now possible to send registration requests directly to the IEDR using an approved API.
As the larger resellers adopt the new API they should see a reduction in their manual workload in processing IE registration requests in general.
It also means that if you have done your coding in a sane and functional manner extending your implementation of the API to include a new second level domain would not involve excessive development time or costs.
By keeping the personal space (or any others that are created) separate from the top level it should be relatively easy to build up a public perception of the overall namespace's value and relevance. Afnic, for example, went to great lengths to encourage the wider adoption of .fr domains by private citizens last year. While their experience was not without its hiccups they managed to increase overall registration figures dramatically and with it the public's interest in the domain. (We are AFNIC members)
While I don't like "race to the bottom" style pricing automated registrations would mean little or no manual intervention, so the costs to both the registry and the reseller/registrar should be minimal. If that was the case then the saving should be passed on directly to the public without any pre-conditions. This strategy would also allow companies that like to target a "premium" market to maintain their higher prices for the "higher value" product, namely the .ie at root level.
It is my opinion that the combination of these three elements could lead to a veritable explosion of IE registrations if handled correctly.
I may, of course, be completely mistaken, but I'd love to see the IEDR "give it a go", as I for one would give it my full support.
NB: As usual these opinions are my own and may not represent those of Blacknight, though they probably do 🙂