A tale of 2 Nominet consultations, .uk and .wales

by Edwin on July 16, 2013

Never let it be said that Nominet doesn’t know how to run consultations. They’re perfectly capable of doing so – if they choose to! The .wales consultation is proof of that.

By contrast, Nominet’s .uk consultation has been opaque in the extreme, with little or no information emerging at each stage of the process.

Why should two consultations by the same organisation, both about launching new domain extensions, have been conducted so differently? The obvious conclusion is that the financial windfall that would accrue to Nominet if they launch .uk (£25,000,000+/year, every year) is so compelling that they have skipped a few steps in their pursuit of the big prize.

Nominet’s approach to .wales was to build a separate, stand-alone site dedicated to the concept and the consultation that followed. This website gathered all relevant information in one place, and featured frequent updates.

The .wales website includes:

By contrast, during the .uk consultation, which has been ongoing October 2012, Nominet have failed to supply any of the following information, despite repeated requests to do so from many parties:

  • Business case for .uk (including benefits analysis, economic benefits, domain market factors etc.)
  • Financial projections (including income accruing to Nominet, to its registrar partners, and the likely cost to businesses of keeping up with this change)
  • An impact analysis, to determine the effect on the 10,000,000+ existing registrants of .co.uk, .org.uk and other domain extensions
  • Risk analysis (looking at the potential increase in phishing attacks, misdirected emails, etc. as a result of consumer confusion between .uk, .co.uk and other domain extensions)
  • Market research (no formal study into demand, only anecdotal evidence that some people have asked why Nominet does not offer domains in .uk)
  • Any independent, third party reports into the proposed .uk

Furthermore, information about the .uk consultation is scattered in various locations on the Nominet site, and older documents are renamed or removed on a regular basis, making it impossible to see all relevant info in one place.

Nominet’s course of action regarding .uk seems set at this point. Indeed, Lesley Cowley, Nominet’s CEO, wrote in a blog post about the .uk consultation on July 15: “Our consultation is not a vehicle for us to put forward a business case.”

This is a strange statement for her to make, given that in Nominet’s approach to the .wales consultation they went to great lengths to develop and state a business case, including bringing in LE Wales to conduct an economic study that ran to over 100 pages. In other words, Nominet can – if they want to.

The hour has already grown very late, but it’s still not impossible for Nominet to start building a formal case for .uk just like they did for .wales. If you believe they have an obligation to do so, then please make that view clear to them when you respond to the .uk consultation (you have until 23 September 2013 to do so)

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