last modified April 22, 2012 by tomlowenhaupt

­­Frequently Asked Questions and answers about the .nyc TLD are presented here. If you have a question, use the wiki's capabilities and add it below. You may also provide an answer or wait for someone else to answer it - Wikipedia-style.




































































































































































































What is a TLD?

TLD is an abbreviation for top-level domain. A TLD is the last part of a  domain name; that is, the letters which follow the final dot of any domain name. For example, in www.website.com, the top-level domain or TLD is .com.

Traditionally TLDs are broken down into three categories: generic, country code, and geo.

  • generic TLDs are used, in theory, by a particular class of organizations, for example, .com for commercial organizations. Most gTLDs are available for general use worldwide. But .mil and .gov are reserved for use by the U.S. military and governments. There are two subclasses of TLDs, sponsored and unsponsored. Most TLDs are unsponsored: .com, .biz, .net, .org, .info, .name and .pro. Examples of sponsored TLDs are .aero, .coop and .museum.
  • country code TLDs are used by geographic territories, typically nation-states, with some were issued to dependent territories. Some well known cc-TLDs are .us, .ru., and .uk.
  • geo-TLDs - A new category of TLDs has arisen over in the last couple of years that focus on cultural groups or large geographic structures, with the most prominent being .eu and .asia for the European Union and Asian communities and .cat for the Catalonian people.

For more on TLDs, see Wikipedia's list of top level domains. But note that the categories of TLDs is in transition, and the above descriptions may not agree in all points with Wikipedia's. Current thinking is to consider city TLDs in the geo category, but sponsored or unsponsored remains a critical question.

Is a City-TLD different from a standard .com or .net TLD?

There's a big difference. Here's the way one of our directors explained it.

Let's think back to the early 1800's when work began on what's now called the Commissioners Plan of 1811. The Plan set out the city's street grid - 1st to 155th Streets and 1st to 12th Avenues. It took 4 years and even then they left out a few parts – like Central Park. And late in the process they said “Let's put in Lexington Avenue.” Not by name mind you – but conceptually. The Commissioners' Plan wasn't about names. And this city-TLD is not, in its essence, about names. Names are part of both. But the core elements are structure, order, and accountability.

My view is that .nyc is a scaffold for our culture and our treasures. Think for a second about the New York Yankees. Yes, all the star players have skills and names. But its the combination of players, coaches, trainers, owners, fans, and concessionaires selling hotdogs and beer that make the New York Yankees a success. Each and every person in this list of what might be called the “Yankees Network” has a name. But it's an effective organizational structure and culture that makes the Yankees win. From my perspective our city's TLD is a culture making tool. A scaffold for organizing our resources.

Let me tell you another view, one I'll call The Grand View (I'm thankful to David Bollier's Viral Spiral for this.) – It involves the legendary Adam Smith. Everyone is familiar with the impact of his The Wealth of Nations. To some this 1776 economics treaties is their constitution and bible. In it Smith wrote about people's penchant for what he called “truck, barter, and exchange” - markets and capitalism. Today his thoughts serve as a basis for our global economy.

In another work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith wrote about “deep impulses of human sympathy and morality” that included the most important of human traits – sharing, loving, caring, sympathy, empathy. The Grand View holds that the .nyc TLD is a organizing force for digitizing these most important human impulses. At first glance, to an old timer like me, this sounded like crazy talk. But when I look at developments like Wikipedia and the Open Source movement, I see Smith's “deep impulses of human sympathy and morality” played out on a daily basis. Projects like these are all about people sharing to help one another.

So 250 years later Adam Smith's sympathetic half may reach fruition through Internet resources like the .nyc TLD. Because now we have a tool to more effectively identify, count, track, and value the good.Imagine our city with a 1,000 Wikipedia scale projects. Efforts like:

  • JacksonHeights.nyc

  • GreenwichVillage.nyc

  • Harlem.nyc

  • Voters.nyc

  • CivicIssues.nyc

  • CandidatesForMayor.nyc

So what's a city-TLD? It's a powerful planning and organizing tool that can improve our city and our lives during the foreseeable future.

My organization already has a domain name using the .com TLD. What benefit does .nyc offer to me?

Many will choose to remain under their existing TLDs, especially those with global ambitions. But some with good .com or .org names might benefit from using a .nyc domain name: for example, COKE.com might seek COKE.nyc to present a calendar of sponsored city events, a directory of local distributors, local jobs, etc.

But new businesses with a focus on New York City will especially benefit from .nyc's good domain names: i.e., names that are short, descriptive, and memorable.

With powerful search engines like Google, the assertion that, in the absence of a .nyc TLD, there is difficulty in finding NYC resources is not obviously true. To test this, I searched bakery New York City, childcare New York City, restaurants New York City, and plumbers New York City. Lots of useful information turned up. Why would having a .nyc TLD make this easier? If I wanted to find something in NYC, wouldn't I still go to Google?

Everyone's got to love Google, and navigating the .com Net would be near-impossible without such search engines. But let me try and paint life on the Internet once .nyc becomes available.

To establish a base, in August 2006 I entered your four terms into Google then refined them with a quoted "Jackson Heights" a New York City neighborhood. Here are the results.

                            Raw Google Results         Refined with "Jackson Heights"

Bakery            New York City     9,930,000              “Jackson Heights”    31,200

Child Care      New York City 145,000,000               “Jackson Heights” 240,000

Restaurants   New York City 140,000,000              “Jackson Heights”  580,000

Plumbers        New York City     2,900,000              “Jackson Heights”    21,300

With Google’s algorithm doing its magic, the top listings might be just what one is looking for.

A History Lesson 

When the Commissioners Plan of 1811 created Manhattan’s street grid, it organized and provided ready access to the city’s real estate resources to great economic gain. Imagine the .nyc TLD as a digital parallel to the city’s street grid, organizing and facilitating access to the city’s Internet resources. Two features make this parallel real are the .nyc Portal and Intuitive Search.

The .nyc Portals

When the .nyc TLD opens for business, one could intuitively type bakeries.nyc (or bakery.nyc) and receive a portal page about the city’s bakeries. On that page you could locate bakeries by alpha or geographic search via a clickable map. If you were unsure about your search term, you could enter help.nyc, directory.nyc, or index.nyc and peruse an alpha listing of portal pages. These would integrate several languages with pétrisseuse, pétrisseur, panaderia, enfrente mixed in with English synonyms like pastry.

Portal-type pages will be set aside by connecting.nyc with their content following its Portal Page Guidelines. In addition to alpha and map assistance, editorial and advertising will populate portal pages, with advertising revenue shared between the page maintainer and .nyc.

The number of portal pages and type(s) of page maintainers has not yet been made. A Portal Page Management discussion addresses the how, how many, and who of portal  pages.

Intuitive Search

Today you can intuitively locate one of the Fortune 500 by typing its name into the browser’s address space, e.g., ibm.com or coke.com. But beyond a few giants, 99% of the time you’d be better off doing a Google search. Once .nyc opens, that will change for sites with .nyc names. One might enter the name of a local restaurant with a .nyc suffix and get a direct hit; or enter 75thstreet.nyc and find news about your local street; or queensfoundations.nyc to locate a listing of local foundations. A more intuitive net. (Enter “queens foundations” in Google today, and you get 1,670,000 hits, and 75thstreet.com goes to a brewery in Kansas City.)

And if nothing was found via an intuitive search, .nyc would guide you to directory.nyc to refine your search. The directory system would also offer the opportunity to purchase available domain names. (This might require an OK from the ICANN.)

There’s no panacea here, but we’ll be dealing within a universe that serves 8,000,000 people not 8,000,000,000.

Businesses will learn that those doing an intuitive search for them within the .nyc domain will avoid competitors in the larger .com TLD.

What does it mean that you refer to .nyc as infrastructure?

Infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services, and the distribution of finished products to markets. More broadly, it comprises basic social services such as schools and hospitals. A good parallel for city-TLDs is roads; they enable the transport of raw materials to a factory and sales points as a city TLD is a facilitator of other activities.

Is there anything wrong with the current search engines that requires the development of a new one for .nyc?

At a civic level, it's vital that we know why a search presents one site higher than another. For example, think of search within the governance realm: We can not have ourselves dependent on a opaque, behind the scenes, search supplier to set our priorities in issue and candidate listings. The same holds true for creating a level business environment. However, as public awareness of the vital role search engines play in our lives, its possible to imagine that they will find it difficult to operate under a rising shadow of suspicion, and choose to open up. With suitable transparency they might be trustworthy for civic use with connecting.nyc's role relegated to one of testing and assurance.

I've always promoted creating applications and leaving the networking to others. Why do we need our own TLD? Why not leave it to search engines like Google and others who might develop other helpful applications?

Beyond the benefits a directory, intuitive naming, and a managed TLD offer, we'll still need a search engine for the .nyc TLD's many sites and especially for non-.nyc names. Today's search engines are operated by giant advertising companies which are battlefields for those seeking to be at the top of a search listing. Gaming and other influencing techniques are common. We'll work to insure a measure of civic control over our search engine. Google, Yahoo and other search engines will still be there to pick up any slack we might offer.

Why not use nyc.us or nyc.ny.us sites?

The nyc.us name has been registered by Stephan Brian Feibish of Virginia. His plans for it are unknown. And the city or state governments might be able to occupy the space by some form of eminent domain. But while the .nyc.ny.us and nyc.us sites are useful for a city directory-type website, it's not the broad name space New York City needs for the current and future needs of its residents, businesses, and institutions. There are two additional problems with the nyc.ny.us and nyc.us sites. First, all names within this space would be third or fourth level, i.e., www.yoursite.nyc.us or www.yoursite.nyc.ny.us. These would not provide the good domain names - short, memorable, descriptive - we're looking to provide to local residents and businesses. Second, these fall under the rules that regulate the .us TLD. We're creating a TLD that's focused on the needs of New York City, and we're seeking a security and privacy atmosphere appropriate for a unique, diverse, small geographic area.

What about all the city sites now on nyc.gov, won't people be confused by the new .nyc TLD?

The opposite is true. Today, if you're looking for the city's nyc.gov website, and you enter gov.nyc by accident, you'll receive a "404" error page. The content of 404 pages is determined by the ISP providing your Internet access, so you'll receive a different one at home, at work, at the Internet cafe. Once the ICANN issues the .nyc TLD, all these pages will resolve to a gov.nyc page created by the .nyc enterprise. It's presumed at this point that gov.nyc will mirror the current city sites. So if you enter www.sanitation.nyc.gov or www.sanitation.gov.nyc you'll get the identical page.

Also, should the city loose access to nyc.gov in the Internet's transition to internationalization, the gov.nyc names will be available for the city's use.

Is it possible that New York City could loose access to nyc.gov? How would that happen?

It's very unlikely. But the .gov TLD was originally conceived as a space for use by the federal government and there's a slight possibility that a future administration might deem it appropriate, for clarity or other reason, to revert to the original plan. Also, there are some in the international community who believe the U.S.'s .gov TLD should be under the .us TLD. i.e., gov.us. With the U.S. under international pressure to relinquish its control of the Internet, there's a possibility of change in the status of .gov as this is negotiated.

Who will benefit most from the .nyc TLD?

Most narrowly, everyone starting a new business or with a new idea that wants a website will find better names within the .nyc TLD than the .com. (By better we mean a short, descriptive, and memorable name.) More broadly, its intuitive design and directory benefits everyone seeking a New York City resource. And it sets a model for the future enhancement of the Internet.

This might be a bit technical, but does all this apply to the new Internet using IPv6 protocol?

Great question. The long term benefits of a local TLD can be better appreciated by understanding the Internet’s size today and tomorrow.

Today’s Internet runs on IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) with 32 bits in each address, allowing about 4 billion combinations. We are now in a transition to IPv6 (don't ask what happened to IP5) expanding the address space to 128 bits. I’m told that’s enough address to provide a name every atom in the planet’s surface, 340282366920938463463374607431768211456 names to be exact.

I can’t imagine we’ll need that many. But the net’s only 10 years old, and if every person, business, and item on the planet needs an address, the Internet’s name space becomes huge. In that circumstance, .nyc will seem quaint, secure, and homelike.

Are there benefits that are easy to achieve, so called 'low hanging fruit?'

Absolutely. More domain names and the global marketing of the city are definitely in that category. And so is the directory. Economic development is also low hanging, but not as obviously.

And what's at the top of the tree?

The sweetest fruits are community improvement, civic pride, identity, privacy, and security.

Can you describe this "sweet fruit?"

The Sweet Fruits.

Why should a local not-for-profit operate .nyc rather than a good old American for-profit?

In an information era, where our city's prosperity and civility will be determined by successful networking, it is vital that we control this fundamental communication resource. A not-for-profit can provide the flexibility, stability, transparency, and continuity required to securely integrate the .nyc TLD into the city's long-term vision.

The not-for-profit structure enables us to apply for government and foundation grants, and it allows tax-deductible contributions from corporate and individual donors. It positions connecting.nyc, inc. to joint venture with government, education, and corporate partners to test new technologies in support of civic and community development, education, training, security and privacy. This will be of special value in instances where not-for-profit granting agencies encourage matching financial or in-kind proposals.

It remains unclear if a city-TLD would be able to attract venture capital and generate venture capital returns. But if one imagines for-profit success, the question arises as to whom investors might sell their interests once they matured. This is of critical importance to the New York City community and culture. Most fundamentally, we would not want a TLD operation that would go out of business due to ill-conceived plans, or services developed that do not fit community needs.

The not-for-profit model supports a range of community success measurements in addition to financial sustainability. For example, the .nyc TLD will be integrated into a larger campaign to improve Internet access, develop a “quality-of-life” based directory, provide Internet media education and training, and improve the local economy. Instead of trying to get people to purchase as many domain names as possible, as for-profits must, connecting.nyc, inc. will focus its energy and resources locally to create a safe Internet space that protects the privacy of our residents and improves the quality of life. See the Towards City TLDs in the Public Interest white paper for more on this.

A for-profit operator's mission will be to create a fee model that will return the highest possible profits to their investors. Because a not-for-profit need only be sustainable, we can set domain prices to support actual organizational expenses, not the maximum the market will tolerate, with lower prices enabling Connecting.nyc to serve more of New York's needs.

To the maximum extent practicable, Connecting.nyc will employ locally and will reinvest in the local economy. Revenues generated through the .nyc TLD will stay in New York City.

You say the .nyc TLD will enable connecting .nyc to issue good domain names. What's that mean?

Good domain names are short, descriptive, and memorable.

Does having a good domain name play a role in how your URL is listed in services like Google and Yahoo?

Let’s imagine you try an intuitive entry or two for your local bakery and then look through index.nyc and still can’t find your favorite cruller. So you go to Google.com and enter “bakeries New York City” in Google’s search field. Dirk Krischenowski, CEO of .berlin, has discussed the impact a new TLD would have on Google’s operation with search firm executives. He reported the following in a recent email:

“I had talks with German Google and Yahoo CEO on how the .berlin domain would be handled. They said that search requests which include "berlin" will rank domains which have "berlin" as their TLD much higher.”

Thus eastsidebakery.nyc will show higher in Google’s listing than eastsidebakery.com.

Another advantage that would accrue to .nyc domain names arose in Dirk’s conversation:

“They also said, that if a short domain like office.berlin is among the top search results, the Internet user will probably perceive this as a ‘good = clearly identifiable and trustable’ search result.”

There are two implications to this. First, we’ll be able to offer shorter domain names. Short .com names are no longer available. Second, this concept of “identifiable and trustable” is another advantage that .nyc will offer. While not approaching the trust and security an FDIC label provides banks, a well managed TLD can provide a measure of comfort in these days of spam and scam. (Think of the comfort one feels using a more managed .gov or .edu address.)

Can you explain more about what's meant by Trusted TLD?

In contrast to open TLDs like .com, .net, and .org we will establish criteria to acquire a .nyc domain and provide ongoing oversight. To qualify for a .nyc TLD, one will require some form of presence in the city. While no decision has been made on the criteria, we might adopt a requirement similar to Singapore, where a local postal address is required to purchase a .sg TLD.

By oversight I refer to the processes we’ll create to assure the public that those operating under the .nyc umbrella will be real and honest, to a greater extent than under .com and the other open TLDs. At the same time, we’ll provide a certain openness to enable business to launch rapidly, to facilitate proposing new ideas, and to enable the first amendment to live under .nyc, we will offer an advantage over the .open TLDs in this regard. Not FDIC secure, but more trusted than a .com.

Providing trust and accountability will start with selecting our board of directors. This will be composed of ex-officio seats for representatives of respected city institutions (city government, libraries, tourist bureau, chamber of commerce…), and representatives of civic organizations, users, and the Internet community.

Are there any other search benefits?

Yes, there's what some call the local trademark issue. There are thousands of local businesses (bakeries, copy shops, delis, hair cutters etc.) who use generic business identifiers like Star, Blue, York, Cook, Magic, Link, Finest, Sun etc. Having a .nyc domain will enable more local identity for companies using the same name used in other cities. While Chicago's Fresh Bakery may use freshbakery.com and Toronto has freshbakery.biz, with the .nyc TLD, New York can have a freshbakery.nyc.

Finally, Gartner analyst Whit Andrews is convinced, in the wake of the 2006 AOL user search data leak and the Justice Department's search engine subpoenas, that it is only a matter of time before someone develops something that can cause real headaches for users and search engine providers. For example, sometime in the near future, malicious programmers might use software that totally skews search results. In such an instance, it is hoped that our directory and intuitive search design will enable locating New York City domains.

What's a domain name?

A domain name is the technical term for an Internet address, such as www.example.org. When you register a name for a Web site, you are registering the domain name.

What will .nyc do different than nyc.com?

This is an apples and oranges question. The nyc.com website is a marketing site offering links to many city websites, primarily those focused on city tourist attractions. It competes with other "official" city tourist sites like nyctourist.com and ilovenyc.com. And while sites like these facilitate communication to many city attractions, they are not like a TLD, which will cover the broad spectrum of city life - from business, education, government, industry - essentially the breadth of imagination of New Yorkers.

A better question might be: What impact will .nyc have on nyc.com, nyctourist.com...?

These "official" tourist sites are benefiting from the malformed name space that excluded city-TLDs. With no .nyc TLD, people might select them as their intuitive guess as to a central, authoritative site for New York City tourism. And indeed they portray themselves as such "Official Tourist Sites for NYC." But the closest thing to an official city tourist site is visitnyc.com, run by the NYC&Company.

"This is the city's official tourism web site, brought to you by NYC & Company, the city's official tourism marketing organization. A private non-profit, NYC & Company has a membership of more than 1,800 businesses, including museums, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, theaters, tour organizations, and attractions. It has a current budget of $16 million, roughly 40% of which is contributed by the City of New York."

How much better would visit.nyc be as an intuitive site for those contemplating a visit to the city? Descriptive. Shorter. And with nothing extraneous. Easier to remember, a cut and paste.

And what of nyc.com and the other "official" sites? They will continue to operate in the .com world and their operators will probably seek many new names within the .nyc TLD. It's resaonable to assume that visit.nyc will be set aside for use by NYC&Company.

What are the privacy implications of a successful .nyc? It seems that everyone will know everyone's business and we might as well say so long to privacy, one of the features people seek in cities.

And an answer will appear here in short order.

Can't you just use a second level domain name to do all this?

Our first goal is to provide good domain names (short, descriptive, and memorable) to small business operators, community advocates, civic organizations, and residents. A second level name would not provide good domain names. Perhaps as importantly, with .nyc part of each of these names, they add to civic identify, saying to the world that New York City exists in the digital world - find us, visit us, buy our products and services... This identity serves another role by allowing residents to better locate one another to address civic needs. Today, New Yorkers are scattered over the namespace - .com, .org, .edu, .info, .biz, .tv , with the only reasonable hope for coordinating and developing the civic enterprise the .nyc TLD.

I run a small business and have had a .com name for a few years. It's not a great name, but people find me. Why would a small business want a .nyc address?

As mentioned above, not all existing domain name holders will want a .nyc name. But .nyc will provide many good names - short, descriptive, memorable - and identity that says you're from New York City. And as things stand, this will provide better search positioning. And if you're a proud and committed New Yorker you'll see the benefit of building a more prosperous and livable city. Finally, you might take pleasure in being part of an historic, great endeavor.

What is a TLD registry?

A TLD registry comprises the organization and the technical resources required to create, manage, and track the domain names ending in that TLD. The registry applies the registration policy, records the domain names and key contact information associated with each domain. It updates the TLD servers so that the active domain names can be found through them.

What is a Community Plan?

When one refers to a TLD operated under a community plan, the fundamental concept is that the TLD is planned and organized to serve a particular interest. In the instance of a .music TLD, it would be the music industry or perhaps listeners. In the case of a city-TLD, a community plan is one that focuses on the long term interest of the city by assuring the TLD's operation as infrastructure. One might also understand a community plan by contrasting it with a standard plan such as that which guides the development of the .com. .org, .biz, and .info TLDs. Under these names are distributed on a first-come first-served basis with minor restrictions as demanded by technical operations and trademark interests.


Key .nyc Links