This week's article is the winning entry in our inaugural Student Writing Contest, written by Stephen Lynam, a student at Maynooth University. See here for more details on the competition.
Anyone who has attempted to register a .com for their organisation knows that the good ones are taken. Those savvy enough to register hotels.com or mortages.com in the 90s would have sold it by now for seven figures. If you are going for something short and snappy, then you're out of luck as all the three and four letter .com domains are registered, and any five or six letter .com that is worth the €10 registration fee may also be sitting in cyberspace with a generic website 'squatting' on it.
Top Level Domain
Almost all other 'top level domains' such as .eu or .co.uk suffered a similar fate, the valuable dictionary words are registered so fast it seems automatic. Anything of value is reserved for domain auctions where the asking prices go far beyond your start up budget. Tokelau, a self-governed territory of New Zealand, released most of its .tk domains for free to the public except those such as the trademarks of Fortune 500 companies and other valuables, in an effort to raise funds. The plan backfired when .tk became infamous for scam and phishing websites. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) also approved the .eu TLD in 2005, although the EU is not a country (it is a sui generis intergovernmental and supranational organisation). A 'landrush' on the .eu domains caused their reputation and value to plummet, causing EU institutions such as the ECB to stray a little away from .eu and use .europa.eu instead.
There is a success story in Ireland's top level domain, the .ie. Originally administered by UCD, the .ie has always been carefully monitored. The IE Domain Registry (IEDR) took on the responsibility of deciding who gets a .ie in 2000. The Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007 then saw that Ireland's communications regulator ComReg, the same body responsible for ensuring telecoms such as eir and Vodafone comply with their obligations, acquire powers to regulate and oversee the management of the .ie domain. A .ie domain name can be registered for the following categories: personal name, corporate name, registered business name, trade mark name, publication name, unincorporated association name, state agency name, educational institution name, politician's name, personal trading name, and discretionary name. Backup documentation is required for registration, such as a passport for personal name, or a company registration number for your registered business name. If an application for a .ie is rejected there is a right to appeal under Part 4 Section 32 of the Act.
Regulation in action
This very simple, and extremely effective, management and regulation of the top level domain has qualified the .ie as a respected and trustworthy domain in the eyes of Google and other online visitors. Google gives your .ie priority in the search results as there is understanding that behind the .ie is a valid organisation. Shoppers trust the .ie as genuinely Irish because the international market wasn't flooded with .ie domains. If the domain appears to have been sold, except as part of the sale of a business, or the domain is being neglected for use, then IEDR may delete the domain within five working days' notice.
I want one
Starting a business in Ireland comes with this little known, but significant, benefit of being able to avail of a reputable online presence. Moves are also afoot aimed at ensuring that modern browsers such as Chrome and Firefox can display the fada in the address bar. To register your gnó.com from the official registrar go to iedr.ie.
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