• dotNeighborhoods - Governance

last modified February 26, 2014 by tomlowenhaupt

Prurient, political, and commercial content will be looked upon differently by every neighborhood. How they treat each will depend on the issue and the participants in the decision making process. Here we look at policy and rules that guide the allocation of neighborhood names and the ongoing operation and oversight of  neighborhood media centers.

Policy & Rules


(Commons Photo courtesy of sporkwrapper.)

Name Allocation Flow


Questions in need of resolution include:

  • What would be the structure of this mechanism,
  • what functions will it perform,
  • what would be its outcomes,
  • how will they be implemented,
  • how would it address the public policy imperatives in the various Internet governance fora,
  • what would be its relationship with the current governance system. 
Revenue Balancing

SoHo.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, TimesSquare.nyc - these dotNeighborhood names provide the potential for significant revenue. Others such as Longwood.nyc have little local retail and little likelihood of economic viability.

If we look for a parallel to the world of baseball we find that the leading team in terms of value is the New York Yankees, valued at $1,700 million with the least valuable the Pittsburgh Pirates at $304 million. As per Forbes:

"Thanks to more than $400 million sent from high-revenue to low-revenue teams, several teams with low attendance were able to post operating profits of at least $10 million." 

And we might add, the revenue balancing provided the Yankees with teams to play in a competitive environment.

We need a similar revenue balancing plan for the dotNeighborhoods.

Pizza Boy
2nd and 3rd Level Domain Names

On the south east corner of 74th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, there's a small pizza parlor named Pizza Boy. It typically has has two full time employees and is opened daily from 10 AM to 11 PM. Deliveries are available.

How might this small restaurant be affected by the arrival of New York's TLD under the community model? Here's a look through the lens of the community TLD.

  • Intellectual Property Rights - Retaining the right to use the Pizza Boy domain name would be a prime goal of the Community model, by way of its being a long established local establishment.
  • PizzaBoy.nyc - The most expensive domain name to acquire would be the second level domain name, PizzaBoy.nyc. This would cost the proprietor about $100 per year, with this relatively high rate resulting from the policy goal of establishing an intuitive TLD and assuring the names are a sustainable resource.
    • Pizza.nyc - Purchasing the second level domain name PizzaBoy.nyc would entitle it to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory of the Pizza.nyc second level domain name.
  • PizzaBoy.JacksonHeights.nyc - This third level domain name would cost the parlor's proprietor $25 per year, payable to the Jackson Heights Trust, the stewards for the JacksonHeights.nyc domain name. Purchase of this name would provide for placement in the directory of neighborhood pizza parlors - Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc.
    • Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc - Purchasing the PizzaBoy.JacksonHeights.nyc third level domain name would entitle it to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory of the Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc domain name, for an additional fee of $10 per year.
  • The Restaurants.nyc Portal - By virtue of PizzaBoy purchasing rights to either name would entitle it to be listed in the alpha, neighborhood, and map directory of the Restaurants.nyc second level domain name.

 Advantages of Local Control

A business model based on local control provides the following advantages:

  • Revenue
    • To sustain the local community
    • To sustain the operation of the dotNeighborhood.nyc
  • Local Jobs - for ad sales, name sales
  • Strong Local Businesses
  • Community awareness of local problems and opportunities.
  • Trust - "It's our consolidated knowledge base. We made it. We maintain it. We control it. It connects us. It provides for our future. It is our network."
  • Improved neighborhood livability / quality of life
  • Central point of contact with neighbors

























From an allocation perspective the neighborhoods "name-set" can be seen as passing through a three level distribution process:

  • ICANN issues the .nyc TLD to the city of New York. (Expected in mid-2014.)
  • The city issues the neighborhood domain name-set to a Trust for Neighborhood Names. The Trust will be a not-for-profit with responsibility for assuring the names are used by their respective neighborhoods to serve the civic good. This allocation should occur in early 2014 in anticipation of the ICANN action.
  • The Trust for Neighborhood Names will assign names to Neighborhood Councils in the city's neighborhoods as they meet the governance, financial, and technical criteria.

    Trust for Neighborhood Names

    The Trust for Neighborhood Names will be a NYS not-for-profit formed to assure the development of the neighborhood domains as public interest resources.

    • The Trust should be composed of representatives from good government organizations, community boards, and neighborhoods. (See draft RFP.)
    • The Trust will create a set of specifications - a Trusteeship Agreement - establishing the requirements to acquire and maintain a neighborhood name.
    • The Trust will assign neighborhood domain names to Neighborhood Councils that agree to abide by the Trusteeship Agreement. It shall monitor these assignments and facilitate the transfer of those not operating in the public interest, as detailed in the Trusteeship agreement.
    • The Trust will establish standards and best practices and assist with technical needs of the Neighborhood Councils. 
    • The Trust will facilitate the creation of Neighborhood Councils throughout the city by TLD names revenue, grants, and revenue balancing (see Revenue Balancing sidebar).

    Neighborhood Councils

    Neighborhoods will acquire and retain the right to use the neighborhood names by agreeing to terms set under a Trusteeship Agreement. Neighborhood Councils shall be composed of representatives from local:
    • businesses
      • business organizations
        • home owners
          • renters
            • health providers
              • civic institutions
                • schools
                  • students
                    • parent associations
                      • and residents

                        Oversight Process

                        Local control of neighborhood domain names will provide advantages on the same order and magnitude as a city-TLD (see Advantages of Local Control sidebar). Acquiring and maintaining neighborhood domain names as locally controlled resources requires thoughtful planning, with governance and a business model amongst the key issues.

                        Success of the Neighborhood Councils should be determined by the following metrics:

                        • A continuation of broad membership in the Councils.
                        • Broad local content about neighborhood resources, issues, and opportunities.
                        • Resident contributions
                        • Local advertising - Traditional social networks remove advertising revenue with engaged civic collaboration  lost to the neighborhood.

                        With the dotNeighborhood names a new resource, one that might be thought of as owned in common by the residents of the respective neighborhoods. A "commons trust" is a legal formula that can provide support for their long term development. It is a legal entity responsible for protecting a shared asset that is inherited from past generations, or is presently being created, on behalf of current and future generations. Viewed as common property — held in trust and not owned by anyone — the dotNeighborhood names will be insulated from any claims by private individuals, business, government or other trusts. See more on commons trusts here.

                        Business Model

                        A workable business model is vitally important. For an indication of the potential to asserting such control, think about the expectations that arise from Fast Company's: "Can Anyone Tap the $100 Billion Potential of Hyperlocal News?" In it, Michael Glunkstadt details the experimental plans of AOL and the New York Times to capture local advertising revenue in Maplewood, New Jersey - part of that nation-wide $100 billion. There's a revenue potential in most neighborhoods, and if we can keep that revenue local, mom and pop and all neighborhood residents will benefit. For more on the business model and financing the dotNeighborhoods see here.

                        In the face of such huge profit expectations, there will be enormous pressure for privatizing neighborhood domain names, perhaps by auction. Therefore a viable business model is essential. Here we present one business model.

                        Revenue Sources

                        Startup and ongoing revenue will be provided by grants and an ever present donate button. It's also thought that advertising revenue might provide some level of support.

                        The JacksonHeights.nyc domain name provides familiar turf for the Connecting.nyc Inc. team, so we've looked at the neighborhood's economy, its social and civic order, and how the domain name might be built-out to provide advertising revenue.

                        We begin with the assumption that the growing power of intuition and locality will advance the utility and desirability of trusted city-TLDs. The following are several intuitive domain names that offer minimal to significant revenue potential.

                        • Arts.JacksonHeights.nyc - This intuitive domain name will provide an arts directory and calendar of timely information on local activities. It will not be a big money maker, but the Jackson Heights Art Club, local movie theaters, restaurants with music or art exhibitions will reach local residents. As well, art instruction and supply providers will find it profitable to place links on this page. By contract, the operator will be required to highlight local events.
                        • Schools.JacksonHeights.nyc - This site will be frequently viewed by parents and adults needing additional training or education. Teachers offering their private tutoring services and those with products to sell to students and schools will pay to have their links on this page.
                        • Restaurants.JacksonHeights.nyc - This page will be frequented by those looking for a local restaurant. With a neighborhood map and a cuisine and alpha search capacity, the Restaurants page will provide great benefit to the neighborhood. It will provide the to offer groupon-like services via local sales agents - keeping revenue in the neighborhood. And with restauranteurs frequenting the site, those servicing them will want to buy link space.
                        • Pizza.JacksonHeights.nyc - Hunger for a slice? Say "Pizza in Jackson Heights" to your phone and see a map with rated pizza parlors. Residents will learn to look for links to parlors offering specials. Every pizza parlor will pay for a link on this page. Those who purchase a pizza page, e.g., pizzaboy.JacksonHiehts.nyc, will be listed in the restaurant listings - on the maps, alpha and cuisine lists.
                        • Gov.JacksonHeights.nyc - Type this and find out about the local civic organizations, the community board, and city processes.
                        • RealEstate.JacksonHeights.nyc - Agents
                        • Bars.JacksonHeights.nyc - Thirsty? An Alpha list and map of local drinking establishments will present residents with recommendations and will present a ripe advertising space for local saloons.
                        • Furniture.JacksonHeights.nyc - Need a bed? Furniture stores and resident sales will provide
                        • Hardware.Jackson Heights.nyc - Need a screw?
                        • MentalHealth.JacksonHeights.nyc - Feeling a bit off balance?
                        • Optometrists.JacksonHeights.nyc - Can't see straight?
                        • Doctors.JacksonHeights.nyc - It hurts here...
                        • Drugstores.JacksonHeights.nyc - "God, where can I find one at 3 AM?"

                        Note that name groups, or clouds, will be assigned, so that someone entering Eyegalsses.JacksonHights.nyc or  Optometrists.JacksonHeights.nyc would be brought to the same page.

                        The stewards for the neighborhood site - JacksonHeights.nyc - would decide if the name will be assigned to a local or a city-wide agent. And note that the Fast Company article points to the expectation of the Times and AOL that national product advertising will be a big part of the revenue pool.

                        Geo Names

                        • 37thAvenue.JacksonHeights.nyc
                        • RooseveltAvenue.JacksonHeights.nyc

                        Additionally, "meta" names would be provided:

                        • index.JacksonHeights.nyc
                        • retail.JacksonHeights.nyc

                        Public Engagement

                        One of the advantages that will arise with local stewardship would be public engagement in making these trustable sites via rating like the following.

                        Residents and visitors can evaluate the quality of material presented on each page. And they can suggest improvements.  









                        Related Resources

                        • dotNeighborhoods - Governance (this page)

                        Key .nyc Pages