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Username: Register ORGanization
Date/Time: Sat, July 27, 2002 at 12:40 AM GMT
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Subject: RegisterOrg's Response to NCDHC Questions


Dear Harold,

On behalf of Register Organization, Inc. (RegisterOrg), I would like to thank you again for inviting us to present about key aspects of the RegisterOrg bid for the redelegation of the .org registry in Bucharest, and for providing us with this opportunity to address the community about our plans to reposition and redefine .org, work with the noncommercial community and to explain the impact of our transition plan on end-users. 

As stated in our presentations in Bucharest, and more fully in our application, the RegisterOrg team strongly believes that the .org registry should be run as a technical business, striving for stability, innovation and reliability. We submit that the .org registry should be operated by a team proficient in technical, business, legal, and marketing areas, in a manner that is supported by the .org community.  Fundamentally, we believe that the interests of the commercial registry operator and that of the .org community are closely aligned. To achieve commercial success, RegisterOrg must provide the highest levels of service, functionality, innovation, and education to stabilize and then expand the number of .org registrants.

We have briefly set forth answers to your questions below.  Please feel free to refer to our full application ( or to contact me with any further questions that you may have.

Jonathan Wales
Register Organization Inc.
575 Eighth Avenue
15th Floor
New York, NY 10018
+44 207 460 4060

1) How will you market .org to differentiate it from other TLDs?  In particular, how will you persuade registrars to abide by your marketing plan?

In contrast to the Internet’s vastly commercial landscape, RegisterOrg firmly believes that .org is a space primarily intended for noncommercial purposes.  While RegisterOrg intends to maintain a flexible and open registration policy, we have created a marketing plan (as described in detail in our application, C38) that is intended to reposition and define .org as a globally identifiable, top-level domain that is recognized as a preeminent resource for community-oriented Internet users and which is built upon the message that .org is about people, causes and ideas.  To that end, RegisterOrg has budgeted $5 million over the course of the contract for executing the marketing plan.  Registrars are a critical component of our marketing plan; RegisterOrg’s marketing strategy emphasizes cooperation with an expanded network of regional and country-specific registrars worldwide to educate and market to the end-user community.  RegisterOrg has developed five strategies that we believe will persuade registrars to abide by our marketing plan:

Strategy One:  Leverage Existing Registrar Channel

First, RegisterOrg will utilize its multilingual, 24-7 support network (already available through Registry Advantage) to encourage registrars in all nations to recruit registrants in their local regions. This not only benefits the Registry, but also, in turn, serves to expand our reach into the international market.  Second, to assist registrars’ selling efforts, RegisterOrg will provide a marketing campaign and toolkit (described below) designed to create awareness and demand at both the user and channel levels internationally. These channels will include access providers, resellers, portal sites, hosting companies, and offline businesses that have not traditionally participated in domain name distribution.  Consistent with its overriding policy of neutrality, RegisterOrg will provide these benefits to all registrars on an even-handed basis.

Strategy Two:  Expand Registrar Channel

RegisterOrg intends to promote diversity in the .org registrar space.  The Registry intends to work with a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, to develop a broader base of registrars focused on noncommercial users worldwide.  An important part of this strategy is the marketing toolkit, which will be focused on the expansion of the noncommercial registrant base and available to all .org registrars.  The marketing toolkit will be available in multiple languages.  Highlights of the toolkit include:

· Co-marketing programs:  RegisterOrg will propose a co-promotional marketing program to help registrars effectively target new customers internationally.
· Sales and promotion materials:  RegisterOrg will offer multi-lingual region-specific sales and promotional materials, including, print, radio, e-mail, trade-show, advertising, and publicity materials.  (For more information, see Section XII, Marketing Strategy, Research).
· Graphics and artwork:  RegisterOrg will provide visual content in a variety of languages for use on registrar and reseller web sites.
· Web content:  RegisterOrg will feature articles and other content, tailored by language and region, for registrars to include on their web sites.

Strategy Three:  Drive Branding and Sales Through Media Plan

To further differentiate .org from other TLD’s, RegisterOrg plans to leverage media placement.  We plan to buy media in vehicles often associated with not-for-profit and community minded organizations worldwide to help position .org as part of the nonprofit world.  Given the target audiences and our core positioning, we plan to employ the following modes of marketing: 

· Radio:  National Public Radio (NPR) can cost effectively achieve a broad reach with consistency of message and supportive positioning of .org to the nonprofit constituencies by underwriting select programs.  RegisterOrg will buy 10 to 15-second spots before and after the program, which do not “feel” like commercial advertising.  Although many NPR programs are heard worldwide, our initial entree will be to underwrite a program such as Marketplace (the fastest growing national program in public radio), which is produced by a local NPR station and broadcasted nationally.  As the sales and marketing effort moves forward and matures, other viable options will be considered such as the Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) globally distributed programming.  Additionally, the Registry will seek to identify other global and non-US national television and radio networks that would be appropriate for such ads.
· Print Media:  RegisterOrg anticipates relaunching the .org TLD within nonprofit focused print publications such as Grassroots Fundraising Journal and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  The latter, considered the newspaper of the nonprofit world, is the number one news source, in print and online, for charity leaders, fundraisers, grant makers, and other people involved in the philanthropic enterprise. Another consideration is Nonprofit World.  Additionally, RegisterOrg plans to initially advertise in nonprofit magazines directed toward nonprofit organizations in Canada, Europe, and Japan.
· E-Mail Advertising:  E-mail is the most familiar element of Internet communication worldwide, and nearly everyone online has subscribed to at least one e-mail list.  These are all double-opt-in e-mail lists supported with advertisements, usually allowing two to three ads per mailing.  Each ad is usually six to seven lines long and in the language of the region.
· Conferences:  Conferences are an important aspect of marketing especially to the international community.  One of the keys to our marketing strategy is to position .org as part of the nonprofit community.  Establishing a RegisterOrg presence at nonprofit conferences worldwide will play a key role in accomplishing this goal.
· Publicity and Public Relations:  RegisterOrg plans to make use of both active and passive public relations.  Passive public relations rely on the media picking up newsworthy events (such as product launches, associations with foundations, underwriting, etc.).  We intend to actively generate publicity via orchestrating events and utilizing spokespersons.  Among activities currently under consideration are contests that would encourage .org registrants to submit information regarding their creative use of their Web site to further their mission.  It is anticipated, if properly orchestrated, that this type of a contest could generate significant coverage by both the nonprofit press and general media internationally.
Strategy Four:  End User Involvement in a Community Portal
RegisterOrg understands that the growth of .org and the optimization of Internet use by its registrants requires a greater understanding of the needs of the current .org registrants and other organizations/individuals looking to develop an online presence.  Moreover, RegisterOrg sees the international marketplace as one that is primed for .org, perhaps more so than for any other TLD.  RegisterOrg’s marketing plans will aim to differentiate .org from other gTLDs and attract global registrants who can best benefit from using the .org space.  To that end, RegisterOrg will create a Community Portal—a .org “commons,” where registrants may find a wide range of support and resources in a multitude of languages, as well as news about policy development at the Registry and ICANN levels—that will be an effective way to promote and expand .org.  Moreover, it would enable the Registry to solicit user input on any new services or needs of the community.  (For a full description of the Community Portal, please see C36). Ultimately, the Community Portal would contribute to the development of a .org brand by providing support to the .org community, and serving as a gateway to resources critical for developing a robust noncommercial global Internet community.  The idea is designed not only to appeal to Internet-savvy registrants who are already involved in policy-making issues, but also to reach out to others internationally who may benefit from developing an online presence or who are looking to find ways to broaden their reach.

Strategy Five:  Community Organization Grants

Civic and community organizations lag behind commercial entities in technology adoption, in large part because of a lack of resources, but also because the value of an online presence is not self-evident.  In an e-commerce dominated Internet, nonprofits do not always understand the empowering potential of the Internet to improve delivery of core services, expand the reach of their message, and build an organization through online fundraising, volunteerism, campaign activities, and data management.  Thus, to respond to and support the needs of the .org constituency and expand the appeal of .org internationally, RegisterOrg proposes to distribute two-and-a-half million dollars ($2,500,000.00) between two .org-registered foundations to seed the growth of a robust, global .org community through technology capacity building, bridging the digital divide, policy education and advocacy and technology innovation. We have selected the following organizations as our funding partners to support the .org community:

· The Benton Foundation, which funds the Digital Divide Network and the Digital Opportunity Channel, among other programs; and
· The Open Society Institute’s Information Program.

(For an in-depth description of this program, please see our answer to C36).  We believe that we can best serve the noncommercial user community and build the .org brand imperative through leveraging the knowledge and worldwide outreach capabilities of these organizations to expand the market for .org globally.  Based upon these organizations’ sensitivity to the .org target market, they will provide a “marketing bridge” for RegisterOrg worldwide.  Through the contribution of content, applications, tools and models that provide increasing functionality and better marketing to nonprofit organizations, the Community Portal will be a critical part of repositioning and extending the brand globally in a way that is not possible with traditional media.

2) How will you interact with the community?  What structures exist for input from the community, not merely for issues of policy, but for more run-of-the-mill matters?

RegisterOrg appreciates the importance of being responsive to and supportive of the global noncommercial user community.  By its nature, running an important public resource such as the .org registry requires a unique business paradigm that seamlessly balances the demands of the public interest with commercial realities.  In order to accomplish this feat, RegisterOrg is committed to transparency and community involvement.  As we describe below, the Community Portal will be a principal vehicle for soliciting input and receiving feedback from noncommercial users.  Moroever, in the event of any Registry policy modifications, other than the implementation of new ICANN–consensus based policies, RegisterOrg will provide 60 days notice of any proposed policy that would substantially affect the .org community, and invite a minimum of 30 days for public comment on any such proposed policy.  Within five days following a meeting of the RegisterOrg board, all policy decisions will be posted for the public to review.  In cases where the Registry is required to implement new ICANN related (consensus based) policy, the Registry will provide notice of such policy modifications upon approval of any such policy.  Furthermore, as stated in our application, RegisterOrg will keep users informed of policy discussions at the ICANN level since it will be participating in the ICANN policy process as an operator of a gTLD registry.  In this way, users who are often outside of the scope of ICANN policy discussions will be able to find relevant policy discussions and updates.

Additionally, RegisterOrg will interact with the community through:

· Customer Service:  As a commercial operator, RegisterOrg values the servicing of its customers as its foremost priority.  Through Registry Advantage, RegisterOrg currently provides a multilingual, 24-7 service support network, which will be expanded to provide support for the international .org community.  Ultimately, customer satisfaction, as well as policy and marketing outreach, will be essential in growing the base of international registrants for the .org Registry.  This philosophy has fueled the continuous financial success of (RegisterOrg’s parent) since its inception as the first commercial competitor to VeriSign/Network Solutions.  Moreover, as a commercial operator, RegisterOrg will have the management depth, financial capitalization, and customer service orientation to build, service, and grow a global .org domain while serving the interests of the international noncommercial constituency.
· Community Portal:  The Community Portal will serve as a central place where all users may engage in dialog about the issues that affect them most and provide an opportunity for users to participate in Registry issues, including both broad policy concerns and run-of-the-mill matters.  Specifically, RegisterOrg will reserve a portion of the Community Portal for community input and feedback and will post key policy issues for public comment and debate.  To facilitate this process, RegisterOrg’s grantee partners will disseminate information globally through their networks to the noncommercial community regarding important policy issues and solicit input from the noncommercial user community.  Through the Community Portal, RegisterOrg will construct an online community of global resources for the development and growth of nonprofit organizations, create a place for users to post relevant papers and research regarding .org and the noncommercial Internet in a variety of languages, and foster international discussion groups on relevant policy issues and sharing strategies for building a successful noncommercial site.  (For a detailed description of this portal, see our response to C21).
· Grant Funding:  RegisterOrg will grant two-and-a-half million dollars ($2,500,000.00) to the Open Society Institute and the Benton Foundation’s Digital Opportunity Channel (a joint initiative of the Digital Divide Network and One  Both of these organizations have a demonstrated ability to reach out to and work with the nonprofit sector on a global scale.  RegisterOrg believes that the missions of the selected organizations are consistent with the principles of promoting broad participation by noncommercial organizations in online policy-making, improving worldwide access to and use of the Internet by noncommercial organizations, and encouraging technological innovation to foster the continued growth and development of the Internet.  Through these organizations, RegisterOrg can involve an existing network of noncommercial groups in establishing .org as a resource for all noncommercial users.  As grantee partners, Benton and the Digital Opportunity Channel will provide content for the Community Portal, disseminate information, and solicit user input regarding best practices, policy issues and Internet governance.  Moreoever, RegisterOrg believes that this contribution will seed the growth of a community by encouraging technology capacity building on an international scale, as well as fostering global policy awareness, education and participation, and technology innovation that will benefit the .org user community as a whole.

3) What will the transition look like from the end-user point of view?  In particular, if certain services will be suspended during the transition, how will you notify registrants?  If procedures exist for emergency updates of information, how will these work?  The winning bidder should understand that the majority of registrants are unsophisticated users, and should not rely on all users receiving notice until a service is interrupted.

As set forth in response to Question C.18.1, RegisterOrg has developed a nine step technical plan that will ensure that a transition from VeriSign to RegisterOrg would have minimal impact on both .org registrants and Internet users seeking to resolve .org names.  The primary goal of the transition is to ensure the continuity and stability of the .org TLD by ensuring zero data loss, continuous resolution of all domain names, no conflicts between new registrations and existing registration data, and clear communication with all stakeholders throughout the transition process.  RegisterOrg is currently reviewing and updating its transition plan in order to ensure that it remains current given the schedule revisions published by ICANN.

The fact that VeriSign is required to continue to provide DNS resolution services on its name service infrastructure for up to a year after the beginning of the transition period will ensure that the DNS resolution function will continue uninterrupted throughout the transition period.  Registry services, such as Whois and DNS zone file generation, may suffer from a limited interruption in service while the final set of data is imported from VeriSign.  However, that will not affect continued DNS resolution of any transferred domain name.  The continuous updating process during the month leading up to the transition of registry operators should limit any potential unavailability of the system for new registrations to less than 24 hours. 

Although the Registry would be fully capable of operating, after the initial data import, RegisterOrg is providing a one week period after the data migration has been completed to allow registrars and other members of the Internet community to reconcile the contents of the new Registry database with the data contained in VeriSign’s legacy registry.  This one week period will apply to any system, such as the shared registry system (SRS) and portions of the Account Management Interface, that has the capability to perform write operations on the registry’s database.  During that time, the Registry will temporarily suspend registration services, such as registering new domain names, modifying name servers for existing domain names, initiating a transfer of registrar for an existing domain name, and deleting domain names.  RegisterOrg anticipates that this suspension will occur during the first week of the transition, beginning at midnight on January 1, 2003, and ending on January 8, 2003.  Beginning on January 8, the Registry will begin to allow registrars to connect to the shared registry system with a limited number of connections.  The number of connections allowed per registrars will gradually be increased over the following week, until the Registry is operating at its full capacity.

If selected to run the .org Registry, RegisterOrg will immediately begin to provide registrars with initial information about the transition plan, including target dates for each of the major activities throughout the transition process.  Once the contract with ICANN has been signed, RegisterOrg will distribute contracts to registrars, who must execute this contract in order to allow them access to the Registry Advantage registrar toolkit (RTK) and to the testing environment.  RegisterOrg will distribute the RTK and all documentation associated with the new Registry’s operation upon receipt of the registrar’s executed contract. 

During the transition period, after a reasonable set of data has been imported into the Registry Advantage systems, RegisterOrg will initiate a test and reconciliation process via two interfaces: a Whois system and a DNS zone, which will be publicly accessible and will allow the Internet community to validate the accuracy and completeness of the imported data set.  These services will be run using unique sub-domains within the top-level domain name.  For example, the Whois server may use a domain name such as, and the zone file may be rooted in a sub-domain such as  In such a case, an imported name such as would be available for testing purposes as  Once data has been made available to registrars and to the Internet community through each of these mechanisms, RegisterOrg will allow and encourage registrars to notify the Registry of any discrepancies between the new and legacy registry databases.  Throughout this process, registrars will be responsible for interacting with their .org registrants to identify and process notifications of data mismatches.

Finally, RegisterOrg will provide the financial stability necessary to ensure a smooth transition that is transparent to the end-user.  RegisterOrg anticipates that a successful transition will require approximately $10 million in working capital.  This figure takes into account the months following the transition during which we expect that there will be only a small infusion of capital from new registrations and renewals.  Because RegisterOrg will not rely on the VeriSign endowment or outside venture capital, neither objections from VeriSign, a dealy in the ICANN award process, administrative delays from funding sources nor minimal registrations and renewals will cause any delay to RegisterOrg in implementing the transition.  Moreover, RegisterOrg has the financial capacity to absorb any unexpected transition costs without any inconvenience to end-users.


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