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Where have you gone? Public participation conundrum

There is a letter [pdf] from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) to ICANN concerning the use of their sTLD .post that may well have important implications for the future evolution of the domain name system.

This letter was received on 5 September and immediately posted on ICANN’s website. The letter specifically expressed the wish to have the Internet community’s feedback on its proposals, and so the next day, ICANN purposefully opened up a public comment period on it.

That comment period was officially announced and posted on ICANN’s front page. It was sent out in an RSS feed and a news alert. And the comment period was noted and posted on the public comment webpage.

The comment period closes in one day (6 October) and so far there have so far been no comments at all from the community.

It is not unusual for there to be very few comments during an ICANN public comment period – although we have recently been trying to improve on that – but it is surprising that there are no comments at all since the letter contains several significant proposals and both the UPU and ICANN have specifically requested feedback.

Among the proposals are, that:

  • The UPU be granted 1,000 initial domain names which it would then provide to its member countries (which it calls Designated Operators, or DOs)
  • The UPU and DOs be allowed to become ICANN-accredited registrars
  • The DOs be allowed to supply domains (it refers to them as “sub-delegations”) for no fee and without going through ICANN-accredited registrars

Although .post is one of the sponsored top-level domains and as such its suggestions would not have an immediate impact on other TLDs, I find it odd that no one would have a view on the proposals. And so, as general manager of public participation, I feel concerned that despite ICANN’s efforts, people are not fully aware of the matter- and so also may be missing out on responding to other areas where they may have a useful perspective or valuable input to provide.

Is this the case? Are people genuinely not interested in commenting on the proposals? Or are you not aware of them? Did people see the announcement but not understand its significance? Is the format clear, or not clear enough? Is there more or better ways of flagging up ICANN’s work to people?

A frequent complaint of ICANN is that it does not make it known clearly enough what it is doing, but from ICANN’s perspective, if we put out an official announcement, news alert and add the issue to a clear public comment webpage – in each case linking to the required resources – then that it a pretty significant effort to draw attention to the issue.

I may be wrong and no one except the UPU is interested in .post. But if there is some interest, please do provide us with some feedback by commenting below.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."