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IDN community reacts to Verisign’s .com transliteration selections

The good, the bad, and the ugly of Verisign’s IDN plans.

Verisign applied for 12 internationalized top level domain names as part of the new TLD program.

These domain names are transliterations of .com and .net.

A transliteration is different from a translation. Transliteration maps the sounds of one language to the best matching script of another. For example, コム when said aloud will sound like “com”, and is only possible because those two characters are phonetic sounds that construct the “com” sound.

Investors in internationalized domain names have been banking on Verisign’s applications for IDNs for years. Verisign plans to allow registrants of domain names in the IDN.com format to “unlock” IDN.IDN.

For example, let’s say a domain name right now has Hebrew text at the second level. It would look like [Hebrew].com. So someone typing in the domain has to switch scripts when they get to the top level. When unlocked, the domain could be [Hebrew].[.com-translisteration-in-Hebrew]. This would all be in one script.

IDN investors say that people have been typing in IDN.IDN-in-dot-com for years, and they point to data from the old Overture tool as well as Google as proof. They think this will expand greatly as IDN.com-transliteration is introduced.

Right now there are just under one million IDN.com domains registered. Many of these were registered by investors who think the domains will be valuable after they get access to IDN.IDN.

But now that Verisign’s applications are public, what do these investors think? Some say they were surprised by the results.

What follows was written by a collaboration of IDN investors, many of whom discuss IDNs on IDNForums.com. These opinions are not necessarily mine, and of course there may also be debate amongst IDN investors….

First the good news:


* Transliteration of com in Cyrillic (Russian, Ukrainian etc) script
* This is what was expected, a thumbs up to Verisign


* Transliteration of com in Japanese
* This is what was expected, a thumbs up to Verisign


* Transliteration of com in Thai
* This is what was expected, a thumbs up to Verisign


* Transliteration of com in Devanagari (Hindi) script
* This is what was expected, a thumbs up to Verisign

This next application, while on the surface looks ok, may actually shut off a few hundred million target customers from Verisign’s reach


* Transliteration of com in Arabic script
* There is a debate raging as to whether the variant section should have been completed in the application, as Urdu/Farsi use a very similar if not the same looking string. If this is an error, then it cost verisign a few hundred million target customers
* But for the transliteration itself, it’s what was expected, so it’s a thumbs up for Verisign

This next application borders on the unbelievable


* Supposed to be the Transliteration of com in Hebrew
* The character with the little dot should be the same character without the dot (קום). In fact to type this character the user would first have to type the correct character, then switch to CAPS, Hit Shift, then the minus sign, then switch back from CAPS. It should be a 3 keystroke string, but now it’s 7, and native Hebrew speakers are saying they wouldn’t know even how to type it
* It’s a fail on this one, massive thumbs down

(Note: Verisign has acknowledged the error on the Hebrew IDN and is working to fix it.)

These next applications are questionable, and the jury is still out on them.


* Supposed to be the equivalent of com in Hangul (Korean script)
* In the Korean language, the ideal way to say com would be a single character 컴, but ICANN disallowed single character gTLDs (even though in many languages a single character can represent a word or even a whole sentence)
* So Verisign has applied for “dotcom” and given the restrictions Verisign had to work with, it’s ok, but just ok

These next 2 applications open a huge can of worms.

点看 and 點看

* Supposed to represent com in Chinese
* Unlike most of the other languages above, Chinese doesn’t have transliteration, so there is no natural way to say “com”
* However for many years, many people have assumed that Verisign would use this 公司 – it’s the translation for “company”
* But verisign didn’t apply for 公司, in fact CNNIC (China’s internet body) did. Some of us saw this coming. Back in 2008, CNNIC split the root and resolved 公司 only within china by covertly mapping .公司 to 公司.cn and .com.cn
* Some people are crying foul play here, suggesting Verisign gave up intellectual property, gave in to the Chinese, and let registrants down.
* Before we criticize the Chinese too much, lets remember why they split the root in the first place. It was out of pure frustration with ICANN for dragging its heels for over a decade on this, and now the problem has come full circle. ICANN, I expect, would like nothing more than to pretend this problem doesn’t exist, and simply award CNNIC their genuine extension and allow them to legitimize their alternate root. That sounds like a bad precedent to set.
* With regards the 2 Chinese gTLDs that verisign have applied for, they appear to be poor and a far distant 2nd choice, time will only tell how well they will be adopted

Editor’s note: Again, I’d like to stress that this analysis of VeriSign’s IDNs was prepared by a community of IDN experts. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with it.

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Comment

  1. Mike says

    That’s great you put this together and maybe it will get some exposure, maybe even picked up by national news. 😉

    You should send them this article.

  2. Dave Wrixon says

    What this article does not say is that IDN.com in several languages are bringing in hundreds of type-ins per name. iDN.IDN is not actually needed, but what is needed is clarity. Any fool can remember a three letter extension and languages such as Chinese are input through a Latin medium even if nobody actually displays pinyin. But the issue over whether companies need to develop IDN.com or IDN.IDN has been left unrsolved for a decade, as has been the question of who has rights over whar. It is now as clear as it can be that IDN.com investors have been right all a long. All that rest is for ICANN which which is racing like a snail over hedges and ditches to get its shit together and get the dam things in the Root. They make the TUC Congress look like a business meeting. even Greece shows more aptitude in regard to problem solving!

  3. Lee Hodgson says

    Great article – you should definitely try and get it circulated as widely as possible given that amount of useful information it provides, both to domainers and non-domainers alike.

    Given that Thai .com (.คอม) has made the A-list, we are busy preparing a Thai domain sales marketplace to be launched in a couple of months at http://www.thaidomains.com.

    Finally light at the end of a very long tunnel!

  4. IDNhost says

    Good summery of what is currently on Verisigns and Icanns agenda for the near future. Reading through the applications it now finally looks as if their plans are now finally clear and set in stone regarding idn.idn
    The news of June 13th as well as the reveal of the application criteria has long been anticipated within the IDNF community and this calls for a celebration. Although Icann messed up huge with the chinese applications, they do get credit for at least getting the other ones right.

  5. Toren says

    “Investors in internationalized domain names have been banking on Verisign’s applications for IDNs for years”

    That statement is incorrect. There are way more others who have not been banking on Verisign domains at all, and actually have been using full idn for ages in China. Some just don’t speak English and are bigger than idumforums is. They promote their idn’s b/c they made gamble on verisign.

    Root was split long before 2008 – in 2001 all over the world in many languages – not just in China. Read the IDN Wikipedia history.

    Those investors and users think very differently but are not part of Idumforums which is only really for promote Verisin domains. They want alias –even though-not needed and not done in many countries. Maybe alias domains..com to domains.co or to co.uk. In fact to let you on a funny thing-they banned and condemned those who were full idn.idn and did to them exactly what was done to them at the time when they prompted their silly hybrid VeriSign idn domains.

    VeriSign has no ownership of .com. You are being used by them and I don’t blame you. I just thought you should know that there are 2 sides. There is no IP for verisn. I might say it’s the other way around as far as IP rights go.

  6. fizz says

    Does Verisign say in its IDN TLD applications that it plans to allow registrants of IDN.com to “unlock” IDN.IDN, or is this an assumption many are basing on earlier Verisign announcements?

    Don’t get me wrong, I too have a few IDN.com domains, but I’m wondering whether this is as set in stone as some are saying?

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ fizz – I can’t find it in their applications. I’m basing this on what Verisign directly told me previously. However, they did say the process wasn’t completely set in stone.

  7. idnforums says

    yes for some reason IDN does seem to attract the crazies – or maybe it is simply the inevitable clash of culture when you mix up people from dozens of different countries. There are also of course strong agendas at play, i.e. those that sunk a lot of money into .CN only for CNNIC to do what they always were going to do and screw the registrants – thus scaring of investors, killing the aftermarket and value.
    btw – nice play on idumforums.. brilliant and funny

  8. Chris says

    @ acro

    someone once told you you were funny, sorry to break this to you.. but I think they were being sarcastic at the time. You’re barely funny when you try to be (domaingang), it just doesn’t come to you naturally.. give it up, you’re just an embarrassment.

  9. Dave Wrixon says


    You are absolutely correct. There is is no restriction that makes you invest in domains that resolve in the ICANN Root. You are perfectly entitled to invest in domains that resolve into some parallel universe. Of course nobody much will ever have gone there and nobody much will be interested because there isn’t even any scarcity value. Any of us are entitled at any time to creat our own little Wonderland like the one you frequent at any time, so there can never be much of a price premium on yours. But the only harm in dreaming is self-delusion, and in your case, you are well beyond the rest of us being concerned about that!

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