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Username: DotOrg Foundation
Date/Time: Wed, July 31, 2002 at 5:09 PM GMT
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Subject: Response to NCDHC Questions - the DotOrg Foundation


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?

The DotOrg Foundation ("DOF") has carefully followed the discussions and recommendations of the Names Council, in particular the NCDHC representatives, regarding the importance of marketing domain to the non-commercial sector.  We understand and agree that the long-term growth and stability of the registry requires increasing the community of registrants.

In order to increase the number of .org registrants, the Dot Org Foundation proposes to create new appeal in the .org TLD - for registrars and registrants alike.  While we certainly expect to employ the tools of advertising and public relations, we believe the real answer to the problem of TLD differentiation is, in fact, to make the TLD different - and more appealing.

We do not propose to exclude anyone or any group.  We do intend to propose optional services that will strengthen the ability of those engaged in non-commercial speech to pursue their efforts. 

Below we discuss four areas of priority activity that we believe will contribute to the differentiation of the .org TLD and do so in a manner that will enlist the involvement and support of the registrar community.

a. Foster the Growth of the Non-Commercial Sector (Build the .Org Registrant Base)

While the value of a vibrant civil society is increasingly understood, the development and health of the non-commercial sector, as it is sometimes called, varies from country to country and, in many instances, within individual countries. In many areas of the world without a tradition of non-profit or non-commercial activity, the very premise of such organizations needs to be reinforced. In other parts of the world, where non-commercial entities have existed for some time, public trust has been undermined by charity scandals often involving the use of the Internet.

We believe it essential that the intrinsic value of non-commercial organizations be recognized.

We believe that technology now allows the .org TLD to be a tool for such organizations in their important work.

And, we believe that registry services can be offered - through registrars - in such a manner that registrants and registrars alike will see the value in being an active part of the .org space. 

Our goal is to offer services that will help non-commercial organizations do their work, services that build public trust, services that will make it evident that the .org space is where organizations and individuals engaged in non-commercial speech should be.

To this end, the DotOrg Foundation proposes to provide a transparent and accessible database of information about participating non-commercial .org registrants: the DotOrg Directory. Inclusion in the database will be optional and free to all .org domain holders, but the value of being in the database will be realized specifically by non-commercial organizations.

Information provided by each organization will be collected through any .org registrar choosing to participate, and stored centrally by the DotOrg Foundation. The non-commercial organization will have the option to provide as much of the requested information about itself as it wishes (e.g., address, website, mission) during registration, or any time thereafter during the registration term.

By having reliable and readily available information about the group whose site they are reading, members of the public will have added confidence that they are interacting with an organization that they can call or even visit if they have questions. This database is the first step in building trust with the public through the .org domain.

After consultation with ICANN, registrars, and registrants, the Foundation may help to distribute DotOrg Directory information to wider audiences through partnerships with data providers. One such partner may be GuideStar which licenses data about U.S. non-profits to donor-advised funds such as Fidelity (which has given over US$2.8 billion in grants), giving portals such as Network for Good (which has processed over US$22 million in donations since 1999 for over 8,000 non-profits), community foundations, and state regulators. Licensees use GuideStar and other similar databases to provide comprehensive information to their own members or the wider public as they research which organization to support.

By helping to disseminate basic information about non-commercial organizations, we will be providing a valuable service - to both the organizations and their supporters. By laying this foundation of organizational transparency, moreover, we will be promoting the creation of new Internet portals that can provide information about non-commercial organizations around the world.  By this simple, yet key step - the creation of the optional DotOrg Directory - we will be generating new value for .org registrants, creating market distinction for the .org domain, and increasing the likelihood that those engaged in non-commercial activities will register .org sites and participate in the .org space.

Beyond the Directory, the Foundation proposes to offer a set of additional optional services that will help non-commercial organizations demonstrate their bona fides to the public. We expect these services to help garner public trust, in turn helping to build non-commercial entities' success, and their consequent .org registrations. 

While the Internet is clearly a powerful means for organizations to talk about themselves, the public is looking for more. They want confirmation about the claims they are seeing. 

The DotOrg Foundation seeks to involve and strengthen the broad community of entities that provide that confirmation. Validators, as we choose to name them, come in many forms. They are often non-commercial groups themselves, perhaps based at a university, perhaps part of a trade association. Some are independent watchdog groups; others are divisions of state or federal governments. Whatever their form, validators provide independent, trusted advice to the public. 

As civil society more and more turns to non-commercial organizations, the reassurance offered by independent validators will become more and more valuable. And, as the need for such validation grows, we believe the .org TLD can become an important contributor.   

Given the range of validation already in existence, we recognize the need to proceed carefully, in full dialogue with those already performing this important service. The DotOrg Foundation intends to work closely with such validators as the Better Business Bureau, the National Charities Information Bureau, federations of the Combined Federal Campaign, the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and others in North America; with Charities Aid Foundation, Interaction, the Synergos Institute, the Union of International Associations, German Charities Institute and others worldwide. Only by knowing what type of information these established validators need can we build a useful validation platform.

That said, based on the experience offered by members of our board of directors and discussions with leaders from established validators, we can outline here the services we expect to develop:

1. The DotOrg Foundation will identify qualified validators that non-commercial organizations can use to review and certify aspects of their operation. Such validators may be trade associations, federations, independent watchdog groups, and so forth.

2. The DotOrg Foundation will provide to all registrars the list of qualified validators, with a description of the service each validator is offering and a wholesale price being charged by that validator. We anticipate that the wholesale price to the registrar will range greatly, based upon the extent and type of validation and the conditions of the competitive marketplace.

3. Each registrar will be free to offer as a retail product the service of one or more of the approved validators. Registrars will be free to charge more than the wholesale price, thereby generating their own added revenue. Registrars will also be free to decline to participate in the validation program.

4. .Org registrants wishing to be validated through the DotOrg Foundation program will select one or more validators through the registrar. Depending upon the nature of the validation itself, registrants may be asked to provide information electronically through a dedicated section of the DotOrg Foundation web site or through the registrar's site. Registrants may also be asked to contact the validator directly.

5. Validators will inform the DotOrg Foundation electronically when a registrant has been validated. The Foundation will offer a DotOrg Seal which the registrant may display on its web site. Visitors will be able to click on the seal to learn details of the validation. The Foundation will also have the ability to display information about validated organizations through the DotOrg Directory itself; registrants will be invited to authorize such a listing on the Directory.

Although validators exist today, we believe that the DotOrg Validation program will expand the number of validators worldwide by providing both current and new validators with the needed infrastructure to more efficiently do their jobs. At the same time, we would be providing registrars with a new and valuable product. Working with established validators, we propose to develop a program that is simple for registrars, registrants and web site visitors to use, a program that encourages transparency and accountability in the non-commercial space.

We plan a process that will be simple and integrated into the registration process already familiar to registrars and registrants. We will offer on-line forms to collect information through the current toolkit, methods to post the results of the validation into the DotOrg Database, billing and payment systems for validations, and secure certificates that can assure a person that she or he is on the right site for the non-commercial organization. We will also develop the necessary marketing so that all who potentially can benefit - registrants, validators, registrars and the public - will know of and understand the opportunity being offered.

In sum, by supporting the growth of the non-commercial community and by adding value to their world, the .org registry - working closely with registrars - can demonstrate that there is meaning to being a ".org," that there is a difference between the .org TLD and the others.

We understand fully, moreover, that a program of this kind can only work if it supports registrars. Our goal is to create services that registrars will want to offer - because those services strengthen the .org space and, quite simply, because those services will mean more revenue to the registrars themselves.

b. Marketing and Outreach

Beyond the impact that will come from offering through registrars new and valuable services, DotOrg Foundation will employ marketing and outreach tools to support the growth of the .org TLD, differentiating it from other TLDs. We will in part rely on Kintera, whose core business, experience, and expertise is marketing to the non-commercial sector.  

Our marketing objectives will be these:
* Position the .org TLD as a highly functional, user-friendly, reliable and trustworthy source of information for non-commercial audiences;
* Demonstrate to the non-commercial community the registry's renewed commitment to their space and their needs; 
* Assure the .org community that the registry will safeguard all current and future .org domain names; and
* Build a reputation as a strong, stable and innovative registry services provider.

There are a number of steps to our plans:

i. Research

Upon award of the bid, the DotOrg Foundation proposes to conduct further market research to better segment and evaluate the .org domain and potential customers.  Our efforts will include:

* A fully confidential, comprehensive survey, targeting all registrars, and commercial and non-commercial organizations. Conducted in coordination with registrars, this survey and its results will be shared with all .org registrars in order to support their plans, but for privacy reasons, no particular registrant's or registrar's information will be disclosed without permission.
* Focus groups.
* General research on the domain name market, gTLD versus ccTLD registrations, and changes in technology that may affect usage of domain names.

ii. Registrar Education

In order to make the .org TLD more widely available to non-commercial organizations, we will seek to inform registrars of any new benefits in the .org registry and any impending changes through:

* email updates,
* seminars at ICANN conferences,
* participation in other Registrar Constituency activities and programs,
* hosting of an interactive community outreach space on the Foundation's website to provide regular updates and information regarding the .org TLD and enable .org stakeholders, users, and other Internet consumers to provide input to the registry and share ideas among themselves,
* live demonstrations of the registry's Account Management Interface (AMI), which is an on-line interface through which registrars can manage registrations, run reports and monitor billing activities, and
* access to registry account managers who would provide individual assistance regarding launch and transition, the new registry-registrar protocol, new product introductions, and other ongoing support.

iii. Outreach to Registrants

To further raise awareness of the new .org registry and its renewed focus on the needs of the non-commercial community, we will also:

* pursue speaking engagements at events sponsored by or focused on non-commercial entities,
* place media in non-commercial trade publications and at conferences,
* employ viral email and direct mail campaigns,
* utilize the interactive community outreach program used for registrar outreach,
* develop materials in consultation with registrars for their own marketing use and encourage them to pursue aggressive media campaigns, potentially by offering financial and creative support to them,
* co-market with partner registrars as appropriate, and
* mount a public relations campaign, including a Video News Reel (VNR) featuring industry experts stressing to the public the importance of looking for a Validation Seal prior to transacting with any non-commercial site, a schedule of press releases reiterating content featured in the VNR, and press interviews.

The DotOrg Foundation's marketing strategy will be designed and implemented in consultation with registrars.  We will encourage them to also attend and sponsor events at various conferences, and if possible, support their attendance with co-marketing funds, facilitation of travel arrangements, and help in preparing materials and presentations for the events. 

In summary, the DotOrg Foundation will work closely with registrars to ensure that all services being fashioned meet their needs. Beyond general outreach to the registrar community (some of which is discussed below, in answers to other questions), it is important to note that registrars will be invited to elect a member of the Foundations advisory council. Three members of the council, moreover, will sit as voting directors on the Foundation's board.

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?

In addition to the outreach described above, the DotOrg Foundation offers a key benefit: We are governed by an international board of directors whose members are leaders in the non-commercial community. The board, moreover, is committed to the creation of a vibrant advisory council that will further ensure that those affected by and concerned with the operation of the .org TLD will have every opportunity to help shape that space.  At the end of the answer to this question, each director is briefly described.

The Foundation's directors believe that, to be effective, the organization must extensively interact with those it proposes to serve. We do not believe that we should simply work in a vacuum in the creation of policy, in our governance, or even in developing products and services. Like any complex organization, the .org community has many different needs and no one sub-group is like another. It is critical that we understand these needs, and sub-groups, as best as possible as we manage existing registry services or fashion new ones.

We will use the Internet to allow different groups and individuals to comment on policy initiatives. To reach communities that are not yet on-line or have difficulties accessing the Internet, we will strive to hold a total of six "town-hall" meetings per year throughout the world. Three to four will be in conjunction with ICANN meetings and the others will take place independently. We will also participate in national and international conferences where large numbers of non-commercial constituents gather. Our goal is simple: to listen to and understand the needs of the community.

Uniquely among all .org applicants, we have adopted bylaws that provide for elected governance from this community. As noted the Foundation's advisory council will have members directly selected by .org registrars and registrants, and we seek the community's advice on the best selection method.  The council will guide the board but, also importantly, will send three of its own to sit on the board as voting members. We believe we will thus be the first gTLD registry where the non-commercial community can have a vote on its managing board.

An additional significant and unique feature of our bylaws is the opportunity we have provided for the non-commercial community to affect registry decisions.  Prior to the board considering any new resolution, the Foundation will post it for public comment.  After the board has acted, we will post its formal resolutions; .org registrants will have the right to appeal decisions that will have a substantial impact on the operation of the TLD. 

In addition to relying on these outreach/input tools promised in the Foundation's governing documents, the community can, as noted, look to the DotOrg Foundation directors, all of whom are experienced, independent individuals whose significant reputations and expertise will help to guarantee that the Foundation will be managed with integrity, transparency and respect for non-commercial needs.  The directors include:

Marshall Strauss, president and board chair - Mr. Strauss is president of Human and Civil Rights Organization of America, an organization he helped establish in 1994. More than 70 national and international non-commercial organizations are affiliated. He is also chair of the National Combined Federal Campaign Committee, a coalition representing national charity federations, federal employees and others involved in administering the U.S. government's annual charity fundraising drive.  The CFC, as it is called, certifies more than 40,000 organizations, after individual review of their programmatic achievements and financial records. Mr. Strauss has also served as executive director of  the Democracy for China Fund and Freedom Channel, two international non-commercial organizations; as associate director of Physicians for Social Responsibility (which shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize) and the Child Welfare League of America (the leading trade group for children's services); and as special assistant to Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent and to U.S. Senator John Durkin.

Mikhail Kazachkov, treasurer - Dr. Kazachkov is chairman of GIST, Inc., which publishes a monthly industry newsletter, weekly Internet distributed News Flashes, and is preparing the third edition of its Russian Telecom Investors Guide. GIST has expanded from Russia and the CIS to other emerging markets including China and Latin America. Dr. Kazachkov is also president of Freedom Channel, a U.S. based, non-profit organization focused on Russian media, polling and the telecommunications industry. Freedom Channel advised the State Duma in the creation of its own radio and television service, and with support from the World Bank, drafted guidelines for Russia's national policy in telecommunications and information technologies. With support from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom Channel built an Internet accessible database of the best criminal defense strategies for Russian human rights activists. As a researcher in theoretical atomic physics for the National Academy of Sciences (USSR), Dr. Kazachkov published more than a dozen papers in his field, ten of them in Western scientific magazines. He was arrested by Soviet authorities in 1975 and spent 15 years as a dissident prisoner in the GULAG. Dr. Kazachkov was the last political prisoner to be released in the USSR in November 1990. In July 1991 the highest court of Russia threw out his high treason charges. The NY Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal wrote repeatedly of Kazachkov during his time in the Gulag, calling him "The Man in the Window."

Michael Washburn, secretary - Dr. Washburn is Director for Programs at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry. In this capacity, he also serves as a liaison for Yale to the U.S. Forest Service on issues of sustainable forest management. Dr. Washburn is a leader in the field of sustainable forestry, having catalyzed the formation of the nations only academic program aimed at certifying corporate practice in the harvesting of trees. He helped develop the national Sustainable Forestry Partnership, a consortium of major forestry schools seeking to foster forestry innovation. Dr. Washburn serves on several government - private sector committees addressing issues ranging from sustainable communities to forestry education. He also advises several U.S. foundations on their conservation strategies and investments.

Sam Gejdenson - From 1981 to 2000, Congressman Sam Gejdenson served the people and communities of eastern Connecticut in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for children, senior citizens, and working families in the United States and abroad.   Gejdenson, who served as the senior Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, worked to promote U.S. exports, further the causes of human rights and peace around the world, and ensure that U.S. trade policy reflected fundamental American values about workers' rights and environmental protection.

LaDonna Harris - For more than three decades, LaDonna Harris has been a leading voice for Native American rights. Over the years, she has helped to form and shape some of today's leading native organizations including Americans for Indian Opportunity, National Indian Housing Council, Council of Energy Resource Tribes, Nation Tribal Environmental Council, and National Indian Business Association. Ms. Harris also created the first Indian owned and operated computer telecommunications network: INDIANnet. She helped establish Common Cause, the National Urban Coalition and the National Women's Political Caucus and has served on the boards of Girl Scouts USA, Independent Sector, Council on Foundations, National Organization of Women, National Urban League, Save the Children Federation, Overseas Development Corporation, Native American Public Telecommunications, and the National Senior Citizens Law Center.  Ms. Harris was a member of several Presidential Commissions, including National Council on Indian Opportunity (Johnson), White House Fellows Commission (Nixon), U.S. Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year (Ford), and the Commission on Mental Health (Carter).  During the Carter Administration, LaDonna Harris also represented the U.S. on UNESCO.

Charles Musisi - Director of Computer Frontiers International, a company dedicated to increasing the use of and access to the Internet in Africa, Mr. Musisi is an internationally recognized leader in Internet technologies and services on the African continent. He is a frequent speaker at ICANN events and technical conferences.  His work includes founding Uganda Online (UOL) in 1998, and consulting on a range of networking and technical customer service/help desk operations in Eastern Africa. As a technical consultant, Mr. Musisi has contributed to Internet-related communications initiatives funded by the World Bank, USAID and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Informatics Program, among others. For Computer Frontiers International Mr. Musisi has provided project management for a successful e-commerce project for selected small businesses in Uganda. His team planned, developed and successfully launched a Call Centre in Uganda to provide e-commerce and customer service support to a regional and international clientele in African and the North American markets.

Charles Pfleeger - Master Security Architect, Exodus Communications, a division of Cable & Wireless, Dr. Pfleeger provides analysis and consulting services for a range of commercial and government customers.  His expertise lies in determining IT installation vulnerabilities and designing security requirements, plans, controls and responses to contain risk. He has consulted with vendors on the design of secure systems and with major corporate users on secure use of computer systems.  As Director of European Operations for Trusted Information Systems, Inc., Dr. Pfleeger was a team leader and chief technical consultant for a UK Ministry of Defence effort that brought together nine major vendors - including Microsoft, IBM, Novell, and Digital - to develop and implement common standards for security functionality in commercial products, leading to secure products that inter-operate among major vendors.  He was a member of the author group of the U.S. Federal security evaluation criteria and a co-author of the evaluation criteria for trusted virtual machine architectures. Dr. Pfleeger is a former professor with the computer science department at the University of Tennessee and the former Chair of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Security and Privacy.

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.

The DotOrg Foundation is committed to a transition that is secure and stable and, most of all, seamless: .org registrants and registrars alike should experience no disruption in service. To assure this, we will rely on our technology partner, Registry Advantage, and its extensive plans and experience in transitioning other TLDs.  The answer below reflects the counsel they have already provided.

In planning for the transition, we wanted to avoid any disruption in service and any longer term problems that could impair registrants' use of their domain names or even risk loss of domain names.  For example, it is possible for the social or zone data for a domain name to be incorrectly transcribed from the old registry to the new operator, or for a name to be left out altogether.  In recent history, we have all seen transitions and launches of new TLDs that have caused persistent and complicated problems.  Therefore, we have designed a transition that will address such concerns.  Our paramount goal is to transition the registry in a manner that minimizes to almost zero: a) the risk that any registrant will lose its domain name, b) safeguard the Whois data associated with each name, c) continue without disruption the resolution of .org domain names, and d) allow for new .org registrations as quickly as possible.

Our plans achieve that.  We will transition the registry so that every .org domain name registered as of midnight (EST) on December 31, 2002 will continue to resolve through the transition and the rest of its term.  Our transition plan will import all current registry Whois data and will provide for a period of time during which registrars can reconcile and/or update such data, beginning up to a month in advance of the actual registry cutover.  We will accept new registrations within a week of the transition; although our systems are technically capable of accepting registrations much more quickly, our goal is to provide for a safety net for registrars to update/reconcile data and ensure that no registration is lost or mishandled.  We will then implement a 9-month plan for updating the registrys Whois database from "thin" to "thick."  This 9-month plan will not affect current or ongoing registrations.

All of these events will be preceded by appropriate and timely outreach to registrars.  We will set out our transition plan for registrars.  We will provide training and materials enabling them to easily adapt to the transition.  We will notify them of any changes.  We will support their outreach to registrants, so that all .org registrants will have information about the change in registry, the transition, and new registry services.  To the extent our presentations at non-commercial oriented conferences occurs prior to the transition, we will likewise provide transition information, as appropriate to the event.  All of this information will also be posted on our website in order to ensure that both registrars and registrants have access to the data and an opportunity to make suggestions or raise any potential concerns.  If any unexpected events occur that would affect registry services, we will use all of these methods to provide notice with as much lead time as possible. 

The transition plan is outlined in our application, and is backed not only by the Registry Advantage experience, but also by its plentiful resources and experienced staff.  For further details, please refer to our answer to question 18.1 in the application.

Our confidence in the transition is backed by two considerations:
First, because VeriSign is required in its contract with ICANN to continue to provide DNS resolution services on its name service infrastructure for up to a year after the beginning of the transition period, the DNS resolution function will continue uninterrupted throughout the transition period.  Other 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.  The continuous updating process during the month leading up to the transition of registry operators should limit any unavailability of the system to less than 24 hours. 

Second, a number of contingency plans exist in order to provide the smoothest possible transition in the event that elements of the planned transition do not succeed completely.   Our contingency plans are described in answer to question 18.3 of our proposal.  In the event that any significant portion of the transition does not proceed according to the schedule described in section C18.1, registrars will be notified promptly of any delay or modification to the transition plan.  Additionally, during any period of time in which a transition milestone has not been met and a revised transition plan has not been announced to all registrars, the registry will notify registrars of the current status of the transition process at least every six hours, until a revised transition has been provided.  Finally, the DotOrg Foundation will notify end users of the status of the transition by making notices available on its website.



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