When ICANN announced that the top-level domains available would finally get past the old .com, .net, .edu, .org (plus the national domain names like .ca, .uk, .cn, etc.) it seemed like it could be such a cool thing. I mean, first, it can be terribly hard to find a domain name anymore. In so many cases, if you’ve thought of it someone has thought of it, and bought it. Sure, that someone is often some domain resale company that thinks ‘stinkzfeet.net’ is worth $50,000 to you, but that doesn’t put it any more out of your reach than some company using your favorite nickname!
So here we are, with the chance to have our internet fame dreams come true. Now you can (possibly) own domains like ‘jointhe.club’ or ‘suchis.life’ or even ‘starwars.ninja.’ Once you have that awesome domain name, the world will beat a path to your virtual door.
And here’s where it gets tricky: Have you ever tried to get someone to understand that ‘.com’ isn’t something that must be part of any internet address? Explain to your great aunt Harriet that she can find pictures of her cat that you took at ‘mycatpictures.party’ without her automatically adding ‘.com’ to the end of that. Speaking a web page address can be tough enough sometimes: I have to constantly remind my own family members that it’s busymind.net, not busyminds.net or busymind.com. Another issue is the basic glut of these new TLDs – it has created an issue where a company trying to use one of them may have to choose from multiple options that all make a kind of sense: If you’re selling a new online camera viewer, do you use .webcam or .stream? You can do both, of course, but then you risk confusion about where you really are.
The biggest issue though is email. I haven’t yet seen anyone blocking access by default to websites with these new domain names, and I don’t expect it to happen. On the other hand, it seems like the only people actually using these names for email are spammers. I manage multiple email servers, and every one of them has a list of these new TLDs that are automatically blacklisted. I haven’t seen even one legitimate email from them yet. Now, if you’re going to start a new website and want a newsletter, or people to be able to email you and you to reply, you end up having to use a totally different domain just for that.
In summary, I really do think the new domains can be a good idea. It opens up a lot of territory on the net, has the potential to let people have fun creating creative new websites with unique addresses, and really it’s been long overdue. The problem now is figuring out how to make them legitimate enough for people to actually use them.
If you’re interested, here’s my current list of blacklisted TLDs on my mail servers: