Given the latest data, ICANN should consider changing how it batches new TLDs.
With 1,268 registered users for ICANN’s new top level domain application system, it’s clear there will be over 1,000 unique top level domains going through the new TLD process. That means we’ll have “batching“, where approximately 500 domains at a time go through the full evaluation and addition to the root.
The current plan for determining which 500 applications go into each batch is called digital archery. Applicants will pick a target time and then try to click a button as close to that target time as possible.
Given ICANN’s failure to run the new TLD application system effectively and securely, a lot of doubt will be cast on the accuracy of a digital archery system.
This, in combination with the expectation that ICANN is going to make a lot more money off of applications than originally forecast, is renewing calls for coming up with a different solution. Here’s what Jeff Neuman, Vice President, Business Affairs at Neustar, Inc. tweeted yesterday:
I wouldn’t be surprised to have an applicant who misses the first batch sue ICANN over its digital archery system. That could delay the entire process.
The problem with putting all domains into one batch isn’t necessarily the evaluation process. The problem is adding more than 500 domains to the root at a time. ICANN has said it wants to limit batch sizes to monitor new TLD effects on the root.
If I were ICANN, here’s how I’d look at it. The non-profit is looking at a windfall of $30 million if it gets 2,000 applications. And that assumes a whopping $120 million is spent on “risk” costs such as lawsuits. Why not use some of this money to “buy off” applicants? Offer a substantial refund to applicants who agree to be slotted in later batches. I suspect that at least half of new TLD applications are for .brand domains. Many of the applicants have no idea what they’ll do with their .brand or when they’ll do it. Offer them a nice refund and many will opt for later batches.
ICANN could even hold a “reverse refund auction” to figure out the market cost of being in a later batch.
This volunteer program would save ICANN from more legal risks. It would also prevent the likely scenario of a bunch of the new TLDs being “dead” when they are added to the root. (Basically, .brands added to the root that aren’t actively used yet.) This would kill two birds with one stone.
David P. says
The major problem with this argument is that ICANN spent several months reviewing all possible options for the batching/review of the applications. Many options were considered and each has positives and negatives. The suggestions you propose each open up new areas of potential glitches, problems etc. The Digital Archery was determined to be the fairest and most expedient when all possible angles were evaluated. With what appears to be a growing number of applicants (I expect a mininum of 2000 total potential extensions and likely significantly more)- The Digital Archery becomes even more appropriate and ingenious. Your not giving ICANN enough credit for already analyzing your proposals and discarding them.
Andrew Allemann says
@ David – the Digital Archery idea was settled on a) before the TAS problems b) before they had a good handle on the # of applications. The TAS issues are bigger than the # of applications. Does anyone know if they’re going to outsource digital archery to a third party? Using someone like PWC might help.
They couldn’t get TAS right, so why should we believe they could get something so precise like digital archery correct.
Jeff Neuman says
Just to respond. I understand the commitment ICANN made to not put more than 1000 TLDs in the root in any given year, but first, I think that will work itself out given the contention process, extended evaluations, etc. And if not, I am sure once the actual number is known, ICANN could go back to the GAC (who it made this promise to) and ask for a little leniency on this issue. By then a number of TLDs will have gone in the root (with no stability issues – presumably) and ICANN will be much better armed to show what all technologists have said from the beginning – which is that the root can handle millions of new extensions.
John Berryhill says
I love how certain folks, and not you Jeff, strut around with the “we’ll sue ICANN” crap.
A TLD delegation is a cooperative responsibility. Any applicant who wants to sue ICANN before the process has really even gotten off the ground in any substantive way, demonstrates by their behavior that they are not the sort of people to whom a TLD should be delegated.
And that goes double for the “we filed a piece of crap in a trademark office somewhere, so ICANN has to give it to us” crowd.
Josh T. Davis says
Should they can digital archery? No. Its a brilliant system that is based on a fair approach and legal protections for ICANN.