In recent years, ICANN has been introducing and maintaining
numerous generic top level domains (gTLDs or TLDs). These are the suffixes on
many popular domain names, and include the names .aero,
.biz, .cat, .com, .coop, .info, .jobs, .mobi, .museum, .name, .net, .org, .pro,
.tel and .travel.
Currently up for public comment as to
its renewal is the “.coop” TLD. This domain suffers from an ambiguity problem. Most
of the other top-level domains are, on their face, indicative of the type of
site a surfer would likely find by visiting that top-level domain. For example,
one might expect to find a business at a .biz web site, an employment related
site at .jobs, and a professional services website at .pro.
While one could imagine that a “.coop” site might be an
apartment building or a network of non-profit sites, it could just as easily be
a cooperation of adult websites, a grassroots political site, or a for-profit
There are other TLDs that are more obvious on their face,
which would be of greater help in facilitating Internet navigation. ICANN recently
rejected the .xxx domain, for example, which would have helped to facilitate
classification of adult sites.
While not immediately at issue, the “.cat” TLD suffers from
similar problems. A surfer may not know if she is visiting a website about
housecats, categories of a library, or a catalogued shopping site.
Bottom Line: Facilitating
the "obviousness" of information on the often convoluted Internet is
a worthwhile goal, especially given the highly visible nature and frequent use of
TLDs. The TLDs “.coop” and “.cat” do not succeed in making their likely content
obvious to viewers. ICANN would be better served examining and approving TLDs
that are “facially obvious.”