We’re going to have confusion, but that may be OK.
ICANN’s new gTLD committee has decided that it will not place singular and plural versions of new top level domain strings into contention sets, shutting down what was effectively an “appeal” by the Governmental Advisory Committee.
Here are my thoughts.
Yes, plurals and singulars will confuse internet users and domain registrants alike.
There’s going to be some confusion. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing smoke.
I’ve written a post about a confused accountant registering domains that summarizes what I think will happen.
The casual web surfer will also be confused. Was that MyCPA.accountant or MyCPA.accountants?
Heck, even I’d be confused trying to remember which one of the above was the right address.
But the casual web surfer will also be confused between MyCPA.accountant and MyCPA.com and MyCPAaccountant.com.
There’s going to be confusion even with .com, especially at first.
Anyone who owns a .com in which there’s a popular site at the matching .info or .biz can tell you this. Anyone who owns a second level .com that matches a first level string can also confirm this.
So if you want to eliminate all confusion, then you should eliminate the entire new TLD program.
Whether you think this is a problem depends on if you think new TLDs will be successful or not.
If you think new TLDs will be successful, then you probably think there will be multiple rounds and there will be tens of thousands (if not millions) of top level domains at some point in the future.
If there are tens of thousands, then top level domains will start acting like second level domains. There will be lots of strings that are similar to other strings.
If you don’t think new TLDs will be successful, and there will only be one round’s worth of strings, then you are rightfully concerned that this will be a unique source of confusion. But if new TLDs aren’t successful, then does it matter anyway?
Google thinks they’re confusing.
Although many portfolio new TLD applicants argued that singulars and plurals are no big deal, the one with the deepest pockets disagreed.
Google filed objections against 9 applications that are plurals of strings it applied for, including .kid vs. .kids and .game vs. .games.
Of course, if you have as much money as Google, you should go ahead and try to get rid of competing strings this way.
What do the string confusion panels do now?
I really don’t understand how any of the string confusions objections filed on the basis of singular/plural can win now. If a panel does rule in Google’s favor, arguing that .kid and .kids should not coexist, then what happens?
If I’m one of these objectors, I’d carefully consider if I can withdraw my objection and get some of my money back.