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GAC advice re Singular and Plural Extensions

  • To: comments-gac-safeguard-advice-23apr13@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: GAC advice re Singular and Plural Extensions
  • From: Frank Schilling <franks@xxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:55:49 -0500

It is ICANN's job to be visionary and plan a foundation that will serve the 
Internet’s users far into the future.  I comment today because I'm concerned 
the GAC's suggestion that ICANN "rethink" permitting singular and plurals of 
similar GTLDs, could hobble that foundation.

Many folks today are having difficulty digesting the concept of 500 new generic 
extensions.  I can imagine a world in 20 short years where there are 20,000 or 
30,000 GTLDs. These are not pie-in-the-sky numbers. It’s entirely plausible 
this will happen. In the near future, every major brand will have it's own GTLD 
- and every minor brand that wants to emulate those big brands will as well..  
There are only so many generic or meaningful words across all languages. Within 
30 years we could move-up a level and the entire concept of SLD's could be seen 
as antiquated.  ICANN needs to lay farsighted groundwork for the possibility of 
that spectrum/reality.  If we don't get plurals now, the change will be much 
harder if not impossible in the future. 

By limiting singular and plurals, ICANN would be marginalizing the utility of 
the naming spectrum and (IMO) the success of the entire new GTLD exercise. The 
public expects to find singulars AND plurals and causing that public to find 
some and not others, will make navigation more confusing. In the long run it 
creates more errors in search, benefiting search engines and weakens the 
utility of the naming spectrum as a natural navigation medium. Internet users 
will continue to search for plurals, they will simply fail to the browser’s 
default search. Search wins and names lose.

Names merely follow human behavior. To be successful as a navigation medium, 
they have to reinforce that behavior. I have heard open talk by current round 
applicants of trying to close the door behind us so there is no round 2. This 
is one risk. Consider a situation where one applicant has .STRING with 60 
dollar per year rates and restrictive terms. A contender could apply for 
.STRING(S) and offer registrations at $5 with very open terms. This is 
pro-competitive and will bring prices down for consumers.

Singulars and plurals live together now on the SLD side. They create healthy 
competition and do not unduly confuse consumers to the point of annoyance. The 
proponents of limiting singular and plural coexistence, surely mean well, but 
do not fully appreciate the power of collective naming as a public navigation 
resource.  This is a defining moment in the utility of naming and it's rightful 
place as a public countervailing balance to Search..  Without singular and 
plural extensions I am not confident in the long-term success of the new GTLD 
program. There will be more names, but names will not have the same "utility".  
Allowing plurals and singulars to peacefully coexist, strengthens the entire 
spectrum because it reinforces human behavior. Trying to legislate singulars or 
plurals away merely creates greater problems for the entire-space. The GAC is 
well intended here but the road to hell is paved with such good intentions.  
The new GTLD spectrum is more viable, more filled with utility, choice and 
lower prices when singulars and plural extensions live together in harmony.

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