Aug. 15, 2011 - The ABCs of TLDs: Domain Name Basics for Realtors
It was just a few short years ago that we were all struggling to understand the complexities of internet addresses: Realtor.com? Realtor.org? What’s the diff? And what’s with this ‘http colon backslash backslash’ stuff? It’ll never catch on….
Well, it appears you now have a few new alphabet clusters to learn, and they will become as important to your professional success as those internet addresses you struggled to learn not so many months ago. They’re called Top Level Domains—TLDs.
The TLDs are what you know as ‘.com’, ‘.org’, and ‘.gov’, as well as others. TLDs are the two or three letters that follow the last dot in an internet address: Dale@realtor.org is an example, with ‘.org’ being the TLD in the address. These TLDs are a part of the world wide Domain Name System (DNS) which helps users to find their way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address - just like a telephone number - which is a rather complicated string of numbers. It is called its "IP address" (IP stands for "Internet Protocol"). IP Addresses are hard to remember. The DNS makes using the Internet easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead of the arcane IP address.
There are two basic types of TLDs: the gTLD (which stands for generic top level domain—like .com) and the ccTLD (awarded to a country, a country code TLD like .us). What you need to know is that every domain name around the world ends with a top-level domain, and that each total address is unique.
And it goes without saying that every address of every domain is registered, just as is every house address or vehicle license plate. That’s a complicated process, of course, and you really don’t need to know how it works—just that it does!
That’s the terminology. Here’s how things are changing, and will change—dramatically—in the next year or two.
The organization that handles the registration and assignment of the top level domains is called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. There were 8 TLDs when ICANN was started in 1998, and only 13 more have been added since then. This year, after months of discussion, ICANN announced that it had approved a new program, an initiative that will enable the introduction of new gTLDs into the domain name space.
Why? ICANN says, “One of ICANN's key commitments is to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability. New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) help achieve that commitment. Soon entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and communities around the world will be able to apply to operate a Top-Level Domain of their own choosing.”
And what will that mean for the real estate business community? Again, let’s look to ICANN for the answer: “The increase in number of gTLDs into the root is not expected to affect the way the Internet operates, but it will, for example, potentially change the way people find information on the Internet or how businesses plan and structure their online presence. “
Our group*, the MLS Domains Association, recognized a great opportunity here in the US, an opportunity to create name recognition and consumer confidence for real estate professionals. “If we can organize,” reasoned some major MLSs, “we can apply for a domain of our own, one that can be used only by recognized multiple listing services. The public, and other MLSs, will recognize the .MLS top level domain and the consistently high quality of information it represents.”
Is this a simple goal to achieve? Of course not. ICANN’s fees alone will discourage all but the most stable applicants: The application evaluation fee is estimated at US$185,000. Then, under the agreement, there are at least two additional fees: (a) a fixed fee of US$6,250 per calendar quarter; (b) and a possible added transaction fee.
The MLS Domains Association firmly believes, however, that the benefits of acquiring the .MLS top level domain, and limiting its use only to multiple listing services, will be of great service to the real estate industry. ICANN has declared that “The applicant is responsible for setting the business model and policy for how they will use their gTLD, so long as the registry is in compliance with the terms of the registry agreement.”
If our application is successful, the association members will be able to benefit from brand name recognition, as well as manage the continued use of the term “MLS” on the internet.That will be very good thing.
*the author serves on the association board of directors
Answer to the Puzzle:
Monday, August 15, 2011
The ABCs of TLDs: Domain Name Basics for Realtors : Off Stage