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ICANN's Newcomer Program

Welcome to the ICANN Newcomer Page! If you're new to ICANN, we built this page as a starting spot for your journey. It contains information about ICANN that can help you quickly understand who we are and what we do, as well as where to find other content on our website to continue learning about this community.

First of all, remember that everyone was a newcomer at one time; we have all had that same overwhelmed feeling when looking around the ICANN website or participating in an ICANN meeting for the first time, trying to understand the work of ICANN, the Multistakeholder model and all of the pieces and parts that make up the ICANN community.

Whether on this website or at the ICANN Meeting, the main goals of this Newcomer program are:

  • Provide a starting point for Newcomers to understand what ICANN is and where it fits in the Internet Governance ecosystem;

  • Explain the structures and processes that are part of the Multistakeholder model, which dictates how ICANN functions;

  • Provide the necessary tools to participate and engage in ICANN, either online, remotely, or within an ICANN meeting; and

  • Create opportunities for mentoring and networking, so Newcomers begin to feel well informed and willing to lend their expertise and voice to the ICANN Community.

So let's get started!

What does ICANN do?

ICANN is a global multistakeholder, private sector organization that manages Internet resources for the public benefit. It is best known for its role as technical coordinator of the Internet's

Domain Name System. ICANN's mission is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems. In particular, ICANN:

  1. Coordinates the allocation and assignment of the three sets of unique identifiers for the Internet, which are part of the IANA function

    1. Domain names (forming a system referred to as DNS);

    2. Internet protocol addresses [PDF, 1.47 MB] and autonomous system numbers; and

    3. Protocol port and parameter numbers.

  2. Coordinates the operation and evolution of the DNS root name server system. ICANN's Security team plays a large role in the safe and stable operation of the Domain Name System through training and support. Take a look

  3. Coordinates Policy Development reasonably and appropriately related to these technical functions.

One of the best ways to visualize all of this is watching this video –

To learn more, you can go to where you will find several guidebooks on ICANN, Domain Names, Internet Protocol, as well as information about the At Large community, part of the Multistakeholder model that focuses on End-Users of the Internet, which is ultimately anyone who touches a keyboard.  

As you continue your journey, it may be helpful to have a glossary of terms to help you to better understand some of the words and concepts:

What about new Generic Top Level Domain Names and International Domain Names?

Take a look at these web pages on new gTLDs and IDNs To assist you with the "language," there is a specific glossary for both areas:

Who is doing the work at ICANN?

Staff members, yes, but in a supporting role to the community of volunteers from around the globe. There is representation from many sectors in the ICANN Multistakeholder model: These individuals / groups work year round, not just at ICANN meetings. Most share their work on a community wiki, which you can look into yourself to get a feel of the pace and workload currently happening – and know why we need YOU to jump in and add your expertise and voice! Take a click into

Looking for other ways to take some introductory steps into ICANN? Here are several options:

  1. Go to which is new to ICANN as of 2013 and provides opportunity to take "courses" on ICANN as well as develop your own based on what you think needs to be added to better cover topics currently not being well discussed or understood.

  2. Get engaged in new thinking and ideas for ICANN by going to; this is where the new was developed with ideas from new and experienced community members working together with ICANN Staff and consultants.

  3. Join a Working Groups (WG) in At Large, gNSO or ccNSO – working groups help their constituencies develop a formal position for a public consultation (after review by that constituency's Council) and finally presented to the ICANN Board of Directors.

ICANN welcomes Newcomers through this website as well as with a special orientation program at each ICANN Public meeting, which are held several times over the course of a calendar year in one of the five ICANN regions. To find out when and where the next meetings will take place, go to for details.

  1. These Sunday sessions for Newcomers offer a casual, interactive atmosphere in which Staff and community members share information over the course of the day about ICANN's mission, work and how to have a successful Meeting week experience.

  2. With the support from the Fellowship Program alumni and select ICANN staff, attendees have a wonderful resource at every ICANN meeting: the ICANN Booth and Newcomer Welcome Area. Here you will find collateral about ICANN, hands-on support and guidance including advice on the sessions best suited for each individual depending on interest, and facilitation of introductions to various community members and staff as needed. Visit as many times as needed over the course of the week for additional information; the Booth is open from Saturday morning before the Meeting officially starts until close of sessions on Wednesday during each ICANN Public Meeting.

  3. Either at the ICANN meeting or via remote participation, Newcomers are encouraged to attend the Fellowship Morning sessions held Monday through Thursday at each ICANN meeting. These sessions are open to all, with presenters from each of the Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees facilitating a more intimate and personal discussion on what their particular community does within the ICANN model. It is a great opportunity to learn in a smaller setting, feel free to ask any questions, and network with the fellowship program participants for a more bonded overall experience.

If you have any questions about how to start participating in ICANN or would like assistance in connecting with staff or community, please email us at

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."