Yes, Multiple Top Level Domain Names Add to Confusion
Duh. More TLDs cause confusion. Perhaps it’s outweighed by the innovation?
This morning I read Wired’s article on ICANN, which discusses new top level domain names.
It quotes David Farber saying “I don’t think that [adding new TLDs] creates innovation. I think that creates rapid confusion.â€
Antony Van Couvering with new TLD service provider Minds + Machines, responded in the comments:
There’s no evidence whatever that people will be confused by new top-level domains. We already have more than 270 top-level domain today (all the gTLDs and ccTLDs) and no-one seems to be confused. People are smart and adaptable and quickly gravitate toward Internet services that improve their lives…
Really? Look, I agree with a lot of what Antony has to say about new TLDs, but to say that no one seems confused by having more than one top level domain name is just bunk.
Just last week, Michael Berkens received 27,000 web visitors in a single day to his .com from people looking for the .info of the same domain. A number of companies with ccTLDs (the majority of those 270 tlds Antony is referring to) have filed UDRPs or bought the .com version of their ccTLD because many of their customers go to .com instead.
So the argument isn’t whether increasing the number of new TLDs increases confusion or not. Instead, the argument should be that the possible innovation from adding new TLDs outweighs the cost of confusion.
It’s true that new TLDs may lead to innovation. (I assume some of the people Antony refers to in his comment about being “in a bit of a time-warp” would be someone like Tim Berners-Lee.)
Sadly, everything that has been publicly announced about new TLDs isn’t innovative; it’s just attaching a new label to the end of a domain name. It makes sense that someone who has an innovative idea doesn’t want to tell the world about it, but so far when I ask for examples all I hear are cases where someone wants to bundle services with the TLD or something else that can be done today with any other TLD or web site.
If anyone is working on a truly innovative TLD — something that can’t be done with today’s existing structure — I’d love to hear about it off the record.