Domain names without dots


Now that ICANN has approved a potentially significant expansion in the number of generic top-level domains, there is considerable interest and confusion as to how these names can be used. For example, if someone registers “dot BRAND”, can they advertise http: // brand / and make it work?


No! Or at least, most of the time not. Because on most laptops, desktops, and mobile platforms, the operating system will try this name under the local domain before trying it as the global name. This behavior comes from an era when domain names were first used to identify Internet resources and not yet as a means of accessing Web resources. Many, if not most web browsing platforms have DNS search list which they will use to find out if a name that looks local (without a dot in it) is actually local.

Research Lists

On my desktop system here at “”, the default search list has only “” but since I often access Internet resources owned by my employer (ISC) I have also added “” to my search list. If I enter http: // brand / in my web browser it will first search for “” then “” and if any of those names exist, my browser will assume that c is what I want and will take me there. Only if there is no “brand” available in my DNS lookup list will it find the “dot BRAND” record in the root zone.


If we started working right now within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) on a new Request for Comments (RFC) document that advises against this DNS “look-list” behavior, and if the IETF could achieve consensus on the matter within an unusually short time frame (say within a year), one would expect the global installed base of web browsers to primarily adopt this new behavior within a decade. In other words, the installed base is very long even in this mobile dominated gadget market that we all primarily use. To expect “dot BRAND” to work as a bare URL would be unrealistic at best.

Equally important, the Internet is bigger and older than the Web, and other Internet systems such as email will generally not accept bare top-level names. For example, send an email to “[email protected]”will probably not reach mail servers for” dot BRAND “.


Due to the “rush for land” that ICANN’s approval of the New gTLD Expansion Program is likely to trigger, I think it is important that all applicants (and their investors) be aware of this limitation. important in how these new gTLD names can be used. Most Internet terminals expect top level domains to be used only for the registration of subdomains (such as Store.BRAND or Company.BRAND) and I hope all applicants for new gTLDs will understand this perfectly before launching their branding campaign. or even before they call their business plan ‘done’.


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