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What Are New gTLD Governance Councils?

A domain name extension is unique

Many generic, community and other geographic new domain name extensions (also called “gTLDs” or “generic Top Level Domains”) will soon become a focal point for the industry or sector they represent.

These simple denominators which define a vertical sector, profession, geographic, ethnic or other delineated group on the Internet have not existed on the Internet until now. These new domain name extensions are moving from the realm of science fiction to science fact: in fact a domain name ending in “.science” will soon exist on the Internet and will clearly contain web sites with a relationship to science.

Since these extensions will fast become a way for anybody who wants to show their affiliation with an industry, interest or group on Internet, you can expect a shift in how information is found and communicated on the Internet is used but, at the moment, no one can tell you, with 100% certainty, exactly how this new namespace will evolve.

Governance Councils should be a “must have” for a Registry but few are operating them…

The success, or failure, of these ‘sectorized’ extensions will ultimately be determined by their adoption by the sector’s stakeholders. If we assume that owners of ‘sectorized domain names’ should also be motivated to protect their sector from detrimental practices, the operators of the domain name extensions (known as Registries) should be open to influence by the community for the betterment of its namespace. For this reason, Famous Four Media had the forethought to create Governance Councils, specifically to offer stakeholders a forum with a voice through which they can influence a gTLD, the way it is governed and how it should evolve. Governance Councils should comprise key industry stakeholders, interested individuals and other relevant industry bodies who will serve as a voluntary advisory body.

A Governance Council clearly brings added value and direction to a newly created TLD but it won’t benefit stakeholders alone. In my opinion a Governance Council is also a “must have” for all sectorized Registry Operators.

It is important to remember that a Top Level Domain has a unique position on the Internet and its Registry Operator is in sole control over how it operates. Ultimately the Registry operator is the only Governing body for its Top Level Domain in the world and the majority are not offering stakeholders a voice.

One thing that is unique and attractive in the case of new gTLDs, is that the door is open to standardize identities and create communities of interest: the owner of the dot-science domain name extension also creates “science” as a beacon for its unique online identity.

When a stakeholder sits on the board of his Industry’s online identity Governance Council, it sends a powerful message to the community. Is there any further need to explain what it means, in terms of credibility, commitment and visibility?

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".

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