Do we really need an .hiv gTLD?

Do we really need an .hiv new gTLD? No, we don’t! Sorry.

DotHIV had collected funding of over $470,000 at the time of submitting the new gTLD application. I am sure they have spend and will spend a lot more until the launch. Is this the best way to spend 500k+ USD in order to help the HIV cause?

The cost of a new gTLD is going to be more than 1M USD just to get it off the ground for the first year. The administrative and operational costs are going to be there year in, year out. Here is a rough estimation of the cost:
ICANN Application Fee: $185,000
Consulting (application, legal): $150,000
ICANN Fee: $25,000 per year
Registry Back End: $50,000+ per year
Various administrative, operational, marketing, etc. costs: $1,000,000 per year

What is the point of the new gTLD .hiv when there is going to be a .charity and a .health? There is also a new gTLD coming that is for Non-Governmental Organizations: .ngo. And of course there is the .org old timer that is still the de facto extension for all charity and health organizations and charities.

Do we really need such specialization in new gTLDs? .cancerresearch seriously? Do we need a .heart? What about having a new gTLD for every disease and charity cause? I support cancer and hiv research and all medical research but give me a break. These gTLDs are simply a waste of funds and resources.

Sedo announced today a partnership with new gTLD registry to support .HIV domains. Please note that Sedo is offering its services at a reduced cost, not free. Here is part of the press release:

Among other roles, Sedo is helping dotHIV by appraising and auctioning premium .hiv domains, supporting preregistrations for people and organizations wishing to reserve names before the official launch, and evaluating the entire .hiv namespace to ensure that important .hiv domain names reach the best end users.

By offering its services at a significantly reduced cost, Sedo is helping dotHIV’s mission of contributing a majority of its revenue to projects and initiatives that fight HIV/AIDS. More than 70 percent of the registry’s revenue – with an ultimate goal of at least 80 percent – will be distributed to relevant charities. The remaining funds will be used to finance registry operations, manage donation distribution and raise awareness of the digital red ribbon as a means for the world to beat AIDS together.

I am sorry but auctioning .hiv domains seems a bit odd to me. Most of the very few “end-users” involved will be non-profit organizations and charities. So they are going to “donate” 100% of their funds in order to distribute 70% to charity? Even if there are a few pharmaceutical companies bidding, again it would be more efficient to just donate the money directly to charity. There are only a handful of “premium” .hiv domains and once these are auctioned off demand will tank.

I am saying this because I don’t see .hiv surviving the first couple of years. .hiv will need 10k registrations at $100 a pop per year just to break even. I don’t see that happening. Sorry but I don’t see .hiv surviving more than 2 years if it doesn’t get external funding. And getting funding defeats the purpose of the .hiv gTLD. Except if their only purpose is to bring HIV and AIDS awareness… The idea may have looked good to some people but at this cost, fierce competition and no sustainable future, I have to say no to .hiv.

Konstantinos Zournas studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and now lives in Athens, Greece. His interests are domain name registration and management and UDRP consulting. He offers website development and hosting. He has been online since 1995 and a domain investor since 2002. You can find him at Google+TwitterLinkedIn

Konstantinos Zournas – who has written 1597 posts on OnlineDomain.com.



8 thoughts on “Do we really need an .hiv gTLD?

  1. This is yet another example of the fallacy of the new gTLDs. Not all of them are useless, but they will form and exist because the corporate mentality prevails over common, practical sense.

  2. Hi, thanks for opening the discussion. As one of the founders of dotHIV, I would like to add some thoughts.

    What I like most about the new TLD program is that it opens doors to new models of usage. .hiv domain names are quite distinct from your usual web address – they are designed as a tool for online communication with a social core.

    This is mostly because they come with a special twist: dotHIV will use the assembled registration fees to finance a micro-donation program. Every visit of a .hiv website will redirect a small amount of money to HIV projects. By this, surfing on .hiv websites becomes an easy way of doing good.
    Registrants are free to use their .hiv domain as they please, but are advised to simply forward to the standard homepage. By doing so, the .hiv-domain becomes a second entry door to the usual web content – but will enhance the surfing experience through the micro-donation. Have a look: http://youtu.be/ZAk0NTZgZ0c

    We are organized and run as a charity: the domains will raise funds to support HIV projects, foster awareness of the cause and fight the stigmatization of people living with HIV.
    This will give back way more than invested – at least 70% of all revenues. With people working for the mission instead of the profit, and partnering organizations like Sedo joining to lower operational costs, the budget maths are different.

    Of course, charities and organizations working in the field will get .hiv domain name for free.

    Do we need .hiv if there already is a .health and a .charity; well, yes, because they are for profit companies. Plus: the fight against AIDS is at a turning point, where additional awareness and money are needed to finally stop the epidemic. The topic deserves the special spotlight, as it deserves World AIDS Day.

    Please come to http://www.dothiv.org for more information.

    Carolin@dotHIV

    • Hi Carolin,
      thanks for your reply but I still fail to see how this will work.

      First of all you are advising registrants to not use their domain names but simply forward them to their webpage.
      That will not bring the awareness you are looking for.
      What kind of redirection are you proposing? Framed?

      You do not have unlimited funds and this micro-donation program is not setup for a limited time. So…
      What are you going to do if, let’s say, you have $100 to donate and 1M google.hiv redirections cover these $100. What happens to next redirections?

      This micro-giving will not bring additional funds to the AIDS fight. It will only bring some awareness, if any.
      How do you plan to make the TLD profitable or even sustainable? You are giving domain names for free to charities and organizations.
      What is the pricing model that you are going to follow for the commercial registrations?

      Which brings me to my last question. Why don’t you just give the funds to the HIV projects and expect people to redirect domains in order to do this?

      Sorry but the fact that fight against AIDS is at a turning point does not justify a new gTLD. There are hundreds if not thousands of similarly important causes that also don’t justify a gTLD.
      Thanks
      Konstantinos

  3. Hi Konstantinos,

    I’m not sure if you watched the video, but it is possible that their model might work. They want to partner with some of the largest sites on the internet to have a .hiv version of the same site where a small donation is made to their cause each time some one visits. I don’t think they anticipate their domains will just be parking pages.

    It seems to me that the following is still up in the air: Who they will partner with

    Martin

    • What will they donate? The money from .hiv registrations(that will be mostly regarded as a donation) and extra donations if any.
      Why do we need a company with extremelly large operating costs to make a donation to the hiv cause?
      We give 60% to charity when you can give 100% directly?

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