.London Premium Domain Name Auctions Start

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London Evening Standard LogoNew York, July 15, 2015 – While New York City officials consider ways to issue the city-shaping and valuable Premium Domain Names – hotels.nyc, sports.nyc, news.nyc – London has settled on a plan for allocating its Premium Names. According to a story in today’s London Evening Standard:

Fifty of the most prized “dot London” website domain names are being auctioned from today to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Standard’s charitable Dispossessed Fund.

Generic names such as cars.london, cinema.london, coffee.london, food.london and shoes.london were open to bids at noon at the domainauctions.london online sales room.

It is the latest phase of the roll-out of the new dot London website addresses with 64,000 already registered since launch in April 2014.

Up to a quarter of the proceeds from the auction, which closes at midday on July 30, will go to charities supported by the Dispossessed Fund subject to a cap of £50,000.

How much might the auction raise overall? Take a look at the early results here. With two weeks to go before this first auction concludes, rooms.london has a bid of £5,100 (about $8,000), with west.london in second place with a £2,501. So it would seem the Standard’s Disposessed Fund will max out with a £50,000 contribution.

The article mentions nothing about public interest commitments so our guess is that there are none, and that the Disposessed Fund is a fig leaf for the public interest.

Here in New York we’ve recommended that important Premium Names have public interest commitments attached. (Note: The city has set aside 3,069 names for consideration as premium names, some of which have little baring on the civic good such as 777.nyc and zero.nyc. We support auctioning these names.)

Public Interest Commitments will vary, perhaps requiring that hotels.nyc fairly present all the city’s hotels and that news.nyc and sports.nyc be based on local content. The New York Internet Society and Connecting.nyc Inc. organized a panel last December that suggested a PIC Oversight Board to delve into the intricacies of the allocation process.

Premium Names are a cornerstone of a successful city-TLD design plan. London seems to have taken its lead from General Motors’ chief Charles Erwin Wilson, saying (excuse our paraphrase) “What’s good for domain name sales is good for our city”. We await Mayor de Blasio’s plan.

 

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Introducing dotNYC Explorer

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dotNYC Explorer #1Jackson Hts., New York, July 9, 2015 – Joel Natividad of Ontondia.com put together a dotNYC Explorer based on information on .nyc registrants provided by DoITT, the city agency with oversight of the .nyc TLD. Take a look.

It’s a great tool. Here are a couple of hints for getting the most out of Explorer:

  • When you get to Explorer’s birthplace on Beta.nyc, you’ll see the summary page, like the one above. Click on the blue “Launch Website” button on the left and interact with the live data on the tableau.com website. (While on Beta.nyc take a look around. Beta is a great civic organization, consider getting involved.)
  • After clicking Launch Website you’ll see essentially the same info on tableau.com, but now it’s live. Click a bar on one of the graphs and see the names in the List box on the left change. For example, in the “First Char” graph, click on the bar representing 5 characters and see the list of 5 character names presented in the List box. NOTE: This is kind of tricky – you must click on the bar above the horizontal line, not on the number 5 itself.
  • Drill down by clicking on 2 bars – the First Char and Length – to see specifics.
  • Finally, once you’ve drilled down, you can click on the names in the List box and be taken to a who.is site with lots of details about that domain name.

We’re hoping for a Version 2 in the near future that will include a mapping capacity enabling New Yorkers to readily discern if more names are registered in Coney Island or Canarsie.

Our thanks to Joel Natividad, Beta.nyc, and DoITT for making this possible.

 

 

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City-TLDs and the Multistakeholder Model – Comments To ICANN

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Thomas Lowenhaupt - ICANN53 presentation to Board of directorsJune 26, 2015, Buenos Aires – Over the past few months we’ve grown increasingly distressed over the city’s failure to initiate a new governance process for the .nyc TLD. As we’ve mentioned previously, the city’s residents and businesses lost their say in planning our city’s TLD when the .NYC Advisory Board ceased operating last December.

While at the recent ICANN conference in Buenos Aires we learned that New York is not alone in its disregard for stakeholder engagement. Indeed, we were unable to find a city-TLD that respected the multistakeholder model in their TLD’s planning, design, and development.

Responding to the flawed governance process for city TLDs,  Connecting.nyc Inc.’s Thomas Lowenhaupt offered the following comment to the ICANN’s Broad of Directors at its June 25 Public Forum in Buenos Aires:

My name is Thomas Lowenhaupt. I live in New York City, and I’d like to speak about the public interest and city-TLDs.

On April 19th, 2001, a resolution I introduced was approved by a local governance body in New York City. Entitled “The Internet Empowerment Resolution,” it called for the development of the .NYC TLD as a public interest resource.

Now, a little over 15 years later, .NYC is operating with close to 80,000 names issued. One might imagine that I’d be standing before you filled with delight and joy. But the opposite is true.

In New York City, in all these years, there has not been a meaningful public hearing about our city’s TLD.

We’re not alone in that regard. This past Sunday at a geo-TLD meeting held right down the hall, I asked the representative from .PARIS about public engagement in developing its name allocation plan. She responded that there have not been any public meetings.

How might we improve this situation and insert the public interest?

I believe an effective process is before us, the multistakeholder model.

When ICANN again begins accepting applications for cities, a fundamental requirement of the process should be that all stakeholder groups have had a meaningful opportunity to participate in a consensus-based planning process. A meaningful opportunity to participate in a consensus-based planning processes. Any application for a city TLD should detail how it embodies the informed consent of all stakeholders. Informed consent.

Such a plan would define the public interest.

In support of this statement, over the past months we’ve advanced the concept of “informed consent” into the ICANN’s policy development processes. And in the coming years we’ll advocate for bottom up, multistakeholder governance by cities applying for their TLDs, and for public engagement in their ongoing operation. (Creative Commons photo courtesy of ICANN)

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Souvenirs.nyc and Google’s Secret Sauce

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SEO Logos imagesJackson Hts., New York, June 8, 2015 – Imagine if Google gave preference in its search results to websites using .nyc domain names. So that whenever someone looked to buy bananas, batteries, beefsteak, bikes, boats, booze, bras, broaches, or whatever – if a website using a .nyc domain name was selling it, and other things being equal, the .nyc site would show higher on Google’s search results page. Cowabunga!

That would be a giant boon to the city’s businesses and economy. A mad rush to get .nyc domain names would follow, by speculators and by existing businesses looking to convert from their .com’s to the new hot TLD.

On Tuesday evening, June 9, 6:15 PM, the .NYC Domain Meetup (see details) is to examine “souvenirs.nyc” and the sterling placement it receives from Google search. Depending on the precise search, souvenirs.nyc shows up 3rd or 4th in Google’s listings; a remarkable result considering it was only activated several weeks ago. Art Mal, its owner and the organizer of the .NYC Domains, will explain how he achieved these results. We’re all hoping one factor is a change to Google’s search algorithm, that perhaps they’ve given preference for .nyc sites in response to our strict nexus and other policies.

With few souvenirs available for sale on the site, we suspect that Art’s a SEO wizard, but… we’ve long advised that one reason a city should consider operating a TLD is the boost a trusted TLD can have on a search engine’s ranking of its resources. If search engines consider your TLD “trusted”, like the .gov and .edu TLDs, the economic benefits would be huge. (We’ve a wiki page on the trusted city here.)

Trust of this sort arises from two factors: restricted entry and ongoing oversight. To buy a .nyc name one needs to prove city residence, so we’re +1 on the restricted access. Oversight is trickier. Both .gov and .edu have ongoing oversight: If you’ve a complaint about sites on either TLD, there’s a reasonable prospect of recourse. We’ve not heard of any city plans to provide such oversight, but the capacity exists and we’re hoping we missed a press release.

We’ll be looking for evidence of trust at the souvenirs.nyc meeting and will report our findings here.

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FOILing the WHOIS Data for the .nyc TLD

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FOIL logoJackson Hts., New York, June 1, 2015 – A few of months back, when preparing our 6 month review of the .nyc TLD’s operation – see here, we grew curious about who had purchased the initial 75,000 .nyc domain names: Was this new resource being allocated in an equitable manner? For example, we wondered if the name purchasers were spread evenly over the city or concentrated in a particular neighborhood or borough. And if they were from a particular social or economic strata.

After considering the options for assessing the situation we concluded that the most effective way to envision the situation would be to plot the home addresses of registrants (aka owners) of .nyc domain names on a map. We’d seen something similar done with housing foreclosures resulting from the 2009 financial crisis. So we requested the WHOIS data from the city.

Over a 10 week period we exchanged a number of emails with city officials requesting the WHOIS data, which details who owns the .nyc domain names. After several back and forths with the city’s data keepers we concluded that it was unlikely that the data would be provided, and on May 27 we filed a data request under the NYS Freedom Of Information Law. We’ll keep you posted.

  • Update #1 – On June 5 I received acknowledgement that DoITT had received the FOIL request. As the law states that a response should have been received within 5 business days, we’re facing a lag of a few days. Also, the notification did not provide an estimated date when we might expect to receive the requested data, as required by FOIL. We’re following up.
  • Update #2 – Clarification resulted in the following: “Thank you for your email. If possible, DoITT will grant or deny your request by July 6, 2015, which marks the 20th business day from the date of acknowledgement. I am looking to locate the records that you have requested. At this time, I am unsure as to whether DoITT maintains WHOIS data of registrants of .nyc domain names.” While this seem outside the guidelines, activities here make it acceptable.
  • Update #3 – On July 6 we received notice that our request for location data (zip codes) for .nyc registrants was denied, as follows “Your request sought the following information: domain name, registrants name, contact postal code, administrative contact postal code, billing contact postal code, technical contact postal code, domain name registration date, and if registrant is a business or an individual. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (“DoITT”) has completed research and found the attached list of domains with their registration date and whether the registrant is a business or individual. Pursuant to the .nyc End User Privacy Policy, DoITT is unable to release any personal information regarding domain registrants, including names or locations of registrants of .nyc domains. Therefore, the portion of your request seeking names and location information is denied.” We’ll soon post the data provided on a Beta-NY site and again seek the zip code location information.
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