Connecting.nyc disappointed with the upcoming .NYC domain auctions

Connecting.nyc, is extremely disappointed with the New York City’s and Neustar’s decision to auction several premium .NYC domains starting with 20 domains later this month.

Connecting.nyc Inc. is a NYS nonprofit education organization advancing the operation of the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource. Neustar is the city’s its contractor and backend provider.

Connecting.nyc was joyful last month after being awarded the domain JacksonHeights.nyc after successfully completing a rigorous licensing process.

JacksonHeights.nyc, like 383 other neighborhood domain names – Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, ConeyIsland.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, Harlem.nyc, etc. – had been set aside for issuance to local non-profits that agreed to provide a range of services to neighborhood residents.

But Connecting.nyc’s confidence plummeted when the city’s contractor announced that a high-bid auction of 20 domain names was to be held on October 24.

Connecting.nyc believes this is just the first 20 domains of what might ultimately be 3,000 auctioned names. In fact, there are already 6 more themed .nyc auctions lined up for the upcoming months involving several other premium .nyc domains. (Actually about 3,800 .nyc domains were released yesterday)

Connecting.nyc refer to the 3,000 domains as the “premium names list”, but conversations with city regulators indicate that the City has not finalized a “premium names list.” So these might better be called “domain names being considered for release via high-bid auction.”

(BACKGROUND: In 2012 the City agree to allow the contractor, Neustar, to sell “premium names” through an auction or other process as part of the remuneration for Neustar’s having advanced funds for the city’s ICANN application and for .nyc’s marketing and operation. That said, the final list of premium names has not yet been approved by the City and, per the contract, the City has to approve the plans for releasing these names. In summary, details regarding the number and composition of premium names as well as the process for distributing them are still To Be Determined. The mayor’s office made a decision to hold on finalizing details because they want to take this “step-by-step and not rush anything” (we’ve been told). They also knew that they would have to release other names in 2015 such as the name collision list (17,000 names), two-letter domains (676), etc. and therefore wanted to be strategic in thinking through the best way to ensure awareness about this phase of the roll-out. [This document provided courtesy of the city of New York and Connecting.nyc Inc.: http://connecting.nyc])

Thomas Lowenhaupt,  founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc. said, “The basis of our disappointment is exemplified by the hotels.nyc domain name. It’s reasonable to assume that, in a high-bid auction, an entity such as the Hilton Corporation, with deep pockets and 30 hotels in or near the city, will win.”

“When this occurs two associated outcomes can be predicted with reasonable certainty: a traveler looking to hotels.nyc for a city hotel would assuredly be provided with a highly skewed view of the city’s 250+ hotels (a Hilton perhaps?). And a comprehensive listing of hotels (perhaps creatively mixed to include an AirBnB-like listing) fashioned by a local entrepreneur will never be seen.”

“To summarize, the city has established a workable model to guide the allocation of the neighborhood names, requiring detailed public interest commitments from those interested in the rights to their development. Further, those awarded neighborhood name must return every three years to demonstrate they’ve met their commitments. In contrast, the plan for auctioning 3,000 civicly important names does not contain any public interest requirements. No review process whatsoever. And the names are issued virtually forever.”

“A high-bid auction is a holdover from the Bloomberg Administration, it is fundamentally inequitable, it diminishes trust in our TLD, and is a global embarrassment.”

Connecting.nyc ends with 5 things that should be done instead of the domain auctions:

  • Let’s begin by providing an opportunity for public engagement. There’s never been a meaningful public hearing about the development of .nyc TLD.
  • Let’s set a consistent public policy that serves the public interest.
  • Let’s require that perhaps 25% of the 3,000 high-bid auction names (currently referred to as “premium” names by the city) be set aside as informative directories to serve New Yorkers and our visitors.
  • Let’s create opportunities (e.g., hackathons and networking) that facilitate local resident participation in acquiring these domains.
  • Finally, let’s govern and operate the .nyc TLD holistically, as a common that belongs to all New Yorkers.
Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He loves domains and building websites. He is online since 1995, learned about html in 1996 and got into domains in 2002. He started the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

10 comments

  1. Just socialist belly aching at capitalism. Ignore.

    • Exactly!…This is what happens when a far left political agenda interferes with capitalism. Seems clear that .NYC did not want to be pigeon holed into being the operator of a political movement.

  2. OK Max, if you say so.

    On second thought, #StopTheAuctions

    • Tom what do you think about the 3,800 domains that were released costing from just $250?

      • I think:

        “The city should stop the auctions and follow these steps to improve the name allocation process.

        City Hall should establish a public policy that facilitates the identification and development of civicly valuable domain names.
        Considering the economic and aggregation benefits that arise with a well managed and trusted digital resource, it should categorize the 3,000 names: those that can be auctioned immediately, names for negotiated allocation (like the neighborhood names), and names that have PICs and are destined for high-bid auction. (Here’s a start.)
        The city’s Department of Small Business Services should do outreach to small and minority businesses and empower them to participate in these auctions by sponsoring hackathons, networking events, loans, credits…”

        So… some are ok, some not. For a start there needs to be a process that engages the public in determining which is which. There’s never been a meaningful public hearing on the .nyc TLD.

      • Well most of the names are gone now. It is too late for what you suggest.

      • Thanks Konstantinos,

        That’s informative and quite disappointing. I’d no idea that was even being considered. FYI, the city abolished the .nyc Community Advisory Board in 2014, and no provided any opportunity for stakeholder engagement.

        Tom Lowenhaupt

  3. Konstantinos,

    Let me finish up here by noting that I just checked on the availability of a shortcut for the JacksonHeights.nyc domain name for which we’d recently been granted a development license by the city. And indeed, it was one of the 3,800 names released earlier this week. Thanks for letting me know. For JH.nyc GoDaddy wants $6,999.99.

    I suppose I’ll write a letter to Mayor de Blasio and complain. But how nice it would be if there was a multistakeholder governance process here in New York City, where a stakeholder like me would be kept abreast of developments, and dare I dream, contribute to the decision-making process.

    Best,

    Tom Lowenhaupt

    • I found JH.nyc for $5,450 on a different registrar. At least the domain has a $30 renewal price on wards.
      GoDaddy is probably the most expensive mainstream registrar out there.

    • Any 2 letter domains on almost any extension is premium.
      Any 2 letter .com .org or net will be very expensive. So 5450 for a 2 letter is not a lot for a right end user. Since its one time price, so there is no premium renewal.

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