We've been unable to reply to Harold Feld's post (link)
so we are posting this response as a new message.
How will you market .org to differentiate it from other TLDs?
Our one-pager summarizing
the main benefits of the UIA / Diversitas bid can be found online at http://www.diversitas.org/diversitas.org/arguments2b.php.
In addition, we have encapsulated how our proposal responds directly to the ICANN
selection criteria and how it benefits the various Internet stakeholders at http://www.diversitas.org/diversitas.org/criteria_response.php
.org community has been neglected by commercial service providers, registries and
registrars alike. Whilst significant in size, .org has not developed a distinctive
profile that could attract new registrants and gain long-term client loyalty, specifically
from civil society.
Our bid assumes that conventional approaches to "marketing"
to non-commercial registrants are of limited relevance and in many cases may be seriously
counter-productive. For this reason, our bid stresses approaches to "facilitating",
"enabling" and "empowering" initiatives by .org registrants and their coalitions.
will differentiate .org in three ways: (1) distinguish .org with a positive identity,
(2) position .org as the "natural home for the non-commercial community", and (3)
develop .org as the strategic space for non-profit work and a key part of their online
At the heart of the Diversitas strategy is the goal of making .org the
natural choice of domain for all categories of non-commercial groups. This
strategy implies a radical shift from a "registry" mindset to a "community" mindset.
is an easy word to use. In practice, however, it has multiple meanings and associations.
For some, it is a loose term for a pattern of relationships that individuals and
groups activate and enhance through "networking". To others, the notion of "community"
assumes a degree of consensus; in the case of .org, this ignores the manifold nature
of its registrants. Those with .org domains may indeed feel membership in community
in the most abstract sense, and recognise shared interests with regard to freedom
of expression, security of service etc, but the truth is that .org is more a "community
of communities" with a healthy sprinkling of extraordinary bodies and people thrown
In confronting the realities of these dynamics of difference, one challenge
will be to respond creatively to the variety of "divides" that fragment the community
of non-profit bodies, the principal being:
* the digital divide between those
with infotech and those currently without;
* the cultural (and national) divide(s)
between the dominant western style (and its association with elites in many developing
countries) and the variety of indigenous styles arising as the internet extends;
* the sectoral divides, and the styles of thinking and activity associated with
* the linguistic divide, mainly between English (and other Latin font languages)
and other scripts.
The UIA / Diversitas proposal provides for a disbursement
of funds derived from income to support community-building internet initiatives for
.org, especially towards narrowing the digital divide.
The image of a galaxy comes
closest to visualizing the inclusive way in which UIA thinks about the .org registry
community and distinguishes us from other bidders. This community (as galaxy) has:
* constellations (eg scientific, sporting, religious, professional communities)
* solar systems (eg UN, World Bank Group)
* planets with moons and rings
(eg International Red Cross/Crescent, Esperanto)
* comets (spectacular entities
returning to prominence periodically, eg initiatives concerning lifestyle,
ethics and belief)
* meteors (burning out as shooting stars, eg short-lived campaigns)
* asteroids (erratic or unrelated fragments)
* gas giants (eg universal peace
movement, sustainable development movement)
* Kuiper Belt entities (primitive
bodies, disconnected and individualistic entities)
* Oort Cloud (rejects of the
solar system: little known, very remote, peripheral bodies)
* interstellar dust
/ cosmic debris (fringe groups / sparsely populated zones)
* dark matter (secret
societies, front organizations, illegal groups)
* strong and weak forces (treaties,
agreements, codes of practice, patterns of relationships) and
cosmic noise (inactive domains).
The .org community is not only about agreement,
but also about the disagreements that are fundamental to the vitality of democratic
society. Part of the challenge of distinguishing .org is to give meaningful expression
to this dynamic through a more ecological sense of community. In this sense, the
image of the .org community that could be realistically promoted would seek to honour
both: · links of commonality binding elements of the community together · links of
opposition holding elements of the community apart.
To do this, Diversitas will
leverage UIA's 100-year legacy of research, advocacy and outreach to non-profits.
It will use information contained in the UIA database which profiles some 50,000
international not-for-profit entities (of which 23,000 have URLs), supplemented with
primary research, in order to scope the community and define segments that will respond
to the value created in the enhanced services.
The UIA / Diversitas proposal seeks
to "make a meaningful difference" by providing a coherent operating context for the
many differences within the .org community rather than imposing a token sense of
community with which few can identify in practice. In this sense, it is a "healing
bid" in response to the unhealthy schisms of that community.
Q1b: In particular,
how will you persuade registrars to abide by your marketing plan?
We see the co-development
of .org initiatives as the form of "marketing" that best resonates with community-building
and as the best guarantee of attracting more and more appropriate registrants to
the .org domain. To this end our bid seeks to develop services and to encourage
their delivery by registrars and others as a pattern of outreach to potential new
members of the .org community. We believe that this approach will prove most
attractive to registrants, registrars and third-party service suppliers alike.
use the word "persuade" and we believe this is the correct approach and that the
shifts will be gradual and work through market forces and transparent, open-handed
practices. For example, we will work to develop best practices guidelines with
registrars serving the .org community. Such materials will be disseminated
through listserves, portals, forums and other peer media used by the non-commercial
community, and through understandings forged with new and current registrars who
see their interest in so doing.
Our job as .org registry operator (one we share
with .org registrars) is to serve non-commercial website users. We would include
in our "community of concern" the non-profit diaspora beyond the .org domain, notably
in ccTLD equivalents. This will require us to develop effective relationships with
registries and the registrars marketing to such domains. We are sensitive to
the need to avoid tendencies that might undermine national initiatives that may be
vital to sustaining cultural identities in countries with an emerging internet culture.
sees its distinctive contribution as enabling registrars to add value to their existing
service initiatives. One expected feature would be the opening up of subdomains,
in response to demand, to enhance the coherence of subcommunities within the .org
domain (e.g. .int.org, .ngo.org, .igo.org)
Specifically for registrars, we would
be proactive in:
* communicating our marketing approach and objectives;
participating in joint codes of conduct for registrars; and
* developing new
add-on services that offer significant value to .org community-building and should
give purchasing registrars a competitive advantage in increasing their sales to the
For example, UIA considers knowledge management services in support
of community-building to be highly dependent on enhanced services, both services
delivered by the .org registry and those stimulated by it and delivered through registrars
and third parties. Value-added services may include online fund-raising and membership
drives, online training, online conferencing, online tools for self-organization,
coalition and partnership formation, "matchmaking" tools for establishing contacts
between bodies with matching interests, do-it-yourself legal and accounting packages,
sharing content within communities of interest", spam protection, opt-in seal/verification
and identity authentication programmes. In addition, UIA/Diversitas will ensure that
multi-media techniques for visualization, sonification and classification are made
available. Whether the registry, or the registrars, or third party portals
offer such services, will depend in part on their respective responsiveness to the
special needs of their clients with non-commercial missions.
Finally, in providing
registry services, we will not seek to undermine existing .org registrars who have
already developed effective services designed specifically for the non-commercial
community (nor equally to destabilize equivalent services operated with scarce resources,
and much dedication, by non-profit bodies).
Q2a: How will you interact with
Diversitas believes that ongoing dialogue and outreach to the community
will be of enormous value to its management of the .org TLD as well as providing
a means to communicate the positioning of the TLD once it is established.
in its bid document, UIA / Diversitas understands how to talk to the non-profit community,
with which is has been intimately associated with for almost 100 years. Through
UIA's existing registry activity, we are convinced that we already know .org better
than any other bidder and have been a trusted broker of its information and perspectives.
And at a time when there is legitimate pressure for that self-same global non-commercial
community to run the .org domain, UIA / Diversitas is both non-profit and non-US-based
-- one of the two bids so distinguished. Moreover, we have long demonstrated
sensitivity to the "voices less heard" and inclusivity to those from smaller constituencies.
on, Diversitas will give incentives to registrars to contact current registrants
of .org domain names and let them know of the forthcoming changes to the look and
feel of the gTLD. The materials will point out that these changes provide specific
benefits to non-profits, and that whoever they are they will in no way be negatively
impacted. Complementary materials will be provided on the Diversitas registry
website together with interactive fora and other client services.
develop co-marketing materials for registrars to use when talking with corporate
registrants that have a number of defensive .org registrations. The message
to corporations would be to provide a "links page" of the non-profit organizations
and resource pages which are associated with their activities, or to respond to civil
society critiques of their practices, or to tell a story about their non-commercial
activities in community activism and so become authenticated as a member of the civil
These communication tactics are critical because they will encourage existing
registrants to embrace changes in the TLD, and should trigger rounds of dissemination
of the new .org image and services through sharing with other non-profit organizations.
its own research, 48% of organizations in the UIA registry (reflective of the non-profit
sector as a whole) have domains in TLDs other than .org. In order to attract
additional registrations and enhance community, the UIA/Diversitas will use its ongoing
dialogue with this audience to convey messages that an .org URL is valuable to their
Also, Diversitas will establish an online "suggestions box" for
the development of "cost-free" tools and information services of value to at least
a portion of the constituency. Such customized tools may be collaboratively
developed with registrants, who would then provide them to members and others, or
may be delivered as registry-level tools or provided through registrars and other
In addition to all the above, we would use, as appropriate, peer
advertising and marketing of .org benefits, new tools and "add-on" services using
Internet forums, partner organizations that specialize in non-profit services, conferences
etc. This is particularly to reach non-profits that may not be currently part
of the existing UIA registry community. Such communication may be localised,
and collaborative with ccTLDs or other gTLDs.
Q2b: What structures exist for
input from the community, not merely for issues of policy, but for more run-of-the-mill
UIA is establishing Diversitas as a dedicated non-profit "social purpose
company" under Belgian law. Diversitas will have non- profit shareholders,
non-profit management and governance, and advisory councils comprised of civil society
individuals of relevant competence to provide community feedback. In addition,
the Diversitas staff and website will provide community responsive facilities, such
as fora, and we expect to host some events enabling face-to-face discussions.
So we are putting a structure in place from the start that will encourage and facilitate
input from the .org community on not only policy matters but also other decisions
related to providing registry services and value added services for .org.
has been operating since 1910 to "encourage and undertake all activity aimed at promoting
the development and efficiency of non- governmental networks, as well as intercommunication
between people working in the international framework and in interassociative co-operation"
(UIA Statutes http://www.uia.org/uiaprof/conste.htm)
As an international non-profit
clearing house, UIA has a statutory commitment to the non-profit community dating
back to 1910 with a registry function endorsed by the UN (UN/ECOSOC Resolution 334B
XI, 20 July 1950). As such, UIA's registry is acknowledged by academic, policy
and market researchers as the international authority on global civil society organizations
across the diversity of every field of human activity. This work is extended by UIA's
other registry activities with regard to the preoccupations, strategies, values,
events, logos and executives of non-profit organizations. Unique amongst the
bidders, our journal Transnational Associations has for 50 years provided a forum
for civil society perspectives.
In addition to (1) the UIA's peer organization
relations in the information technology NGO world; (2) its 150 custodial members
representing the interests of the global non-profit community, and (3) the interactive
feedback facilities already implemented in relationship to the UIA's online databases,
(4) the proposed management structure for Diversitas will provide for various opportunities
for input from members of the .org community -- as well as from non-commercial organizations
using other domains and those currently on the under-privileged side of the digital
Finally, we expect to collaborate fruitfully with the non-commercial constituency
of ICANN. In appreciation of the role of the Non-commercial Domain Name Holders
Constituency (NCDHC), Diversitas will pay up to $20,000 per year to cover the dues
for the ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). This is to facilitate
participation by non-commercial organizations that have limited funds. Also,
Diversitas will use its resources to assist the NCDHC in expanding its membership
by encouraging non-commercial .org domain name registrants to join the NCDHC.
If ICANN reform efforts result in an organizational change in which there is no longer
a DNSO and/or NCDHC, Diversitas would be open to support the same objectives within
the reorganised ICANN.
Q3a: What will the transition look like from the end-user
point of view?
End-users will not notice any transition, because of the continued
use of VeriSign Global Registry Services as the technical back-end, except for the
gradual introduction of new services.
From the end-users point of view, we believe
that our proposal represents:
* the best "front-end" - offering the most knowledge
and understanding of the global civil society and best potential to reprofile the
domain to better serve the .org user
* the best "back-end" (through
a time-limited subcontracting relationship with VeriSign GRS) offering Internet users
the highest operational stability and best technical solution for transition of the
Anyone who thinks that this configuration is not the best for end-users
may not have appreciated
* the risks to security and service delivery of changing
both the "driver" (operator) and the "truck" (service equipment) simultaneously;
* UIA's commitment to a re-compete for a back-end service provider in three years
time -- when Diversitas, as the "driver" will have implemented appropriate new policies
for the .org community, which we see as the real challenge for differentiating .org;
* that some other bidders are also likely to be obliged to enter into a transitional
contractual relationship with VeriSign to fulfil ICANN's technical requirements.
wish to add that, given its non-profit orientation, Diversitas is committed to reducing
prices as circumstances permit, but puts other priorities before this. We believe
we must first invest in developing the community and provisioning it with enabling
services. Diversitas commits, exchange rates permitting, to maintain $6 as
a ceiling wholesale price for core registry services even when noting economic conditions
where (1) the retail price for domain registration may be six or ten-fold this amount,
is beyond the wholesaler's control and subject to a highly competitive and volatile
corporate environment and (2) due to trends already in train, we expect a fall in
income from .org registrations before any rise due to our marketing initiatives.
In particular, if certain services will be suspended during the transition, how will
you notify registrants?
There will be no suspension
Q3c: If procedures exist
for emergency updates of information, how will these work?
Any such procedures
are already in place through our subcontractual arrangement described in Q3a.
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.
agree. Moreover, given that the majority of registrants are unsophisticated
users and therefore handicapped in their evaluation of the merits of the different
bids, we believe that the pattern of implicit support for our activities, through
our regular communications with thousands of non-profits globally, is a telling indicator
of how we are viewed as a respected and respectful service partner.