IDN domains here to stay


The second day of the ENOG 7 meeting started with a panel discussion titled New Features of New gTLDs. IDN Acceptance and IDN mail, bringing together representatives of IDN domain registrars, search engines and email developers. The discussion was moderated by Olga Alexandrova-Myasina, the head of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ’s press service.

In her opening remarks, Ms Alexandrova-Myasina highlighted the development of the .РФ domain, which is currently the largest IDN domain with over 800,000 registered domain names. Despite this success, the .РФ domain zone faces a number of serious challenges that are relevant for all 67 existing IDN domains. According to earlier reports, ICANN received some 2,000 registration applications for new domain zones in 2012. “The main challenges to using IDN domains to their full potential are the lack of support by some popular applications, the absence of a full-fledged email service and faulty integration with search engines,” Ms Alexandrova-Myasina said.

RU-CENTER Group’s Vasily Dolmatov gave a presentation on IDN email. He said that IDN email is expected to be created in the summer of 2014 since many challenges that prevented it from happening to this day have been addressed. That said, a number of issues such as domain name encoding within browsers or email clients can’t be addressed without input from software developers, and not all of them are ready or willing to cooperate. “We hope that as IDN domains become increasingly popular on the back of the program to promote TLD domains, software developers will be eager to join these processes,” Mr. Dolmatov said. “Their input is critical, and the example of registrars of Arabic domains is there to prove it.”

The Yandex search engine was represented by Tigran Khudaverdyan, who pointed to the fact that some 30% of Internet users view new TLDs as being dangerous and unnecessary and are afraid of phishing attacks. It is for this reason that Yandex wants its users to focus on the content offered by websites and not the domains such websites use.

Irina Danelia from the Smart Internet Foundation said that any product needs to be user-friendly in order to succeed. “The user perspective on the new domain will depend to a large extent on what he or she sees in the address bar -- whether the domain name is displayed correctly or cluttered with misconverted characters,” Ms Daniela said. “There are general guidelines for all developers, such as using an external TLD list provided, for example, by IANA, rather than an internal list.”

Fyodor Smirnov from Rusnames also contributed to the discussion: “The creation of a full-fledged email service and the acceptance of a new Cyrillic domain by the World Wide Web is very important for the new .РУС TLD. Unfortunately, almost all major portals that are crucial to the promotion of IDN domains are guided by the interests of their users, who have little interest in IDN domains. That said, many portals are joining in, which is inspiring,” Mr Smirnov said, adding that the market could see a consolidation in the TLD registrar segment in the near future, while addressing the existing challenges would be much easier for domains using Latin characters. Representative of the .МОСКВА domain Alexander Sherbakov called on IDN domain registrars to join efforts in influencing search engines and software developers.

The panel’s participants came to the conclusion that as IDN domains become increasingly popular, the market will have to take them into account despite all the challenges and the lack of trust in their potential.