Opinion | ENS: Why ENS does not create more top-level domains

Author: Brantly Millegan

Translation & Proofreading: Anzai Clint & Min Min

Source: Ethereum fans

Recently, many blockchain domain name companies are busy mass production of top-level domains. ENS (Etherereum Name Service) has been receiving feedback from the community over the years: Many people want us to add new ENS native top-level domains beyond the .eth top-level domain, but for some consideration we have not done so. This reflects the following two questions: How should the blockchain domain name system fulfill its civic responsibility in the global domain name space? How to develop to ensure the maximum benefit of users and blockchain domain name system?

After delving into the above two issues, the development team is here to explain the position to the community. We believe that blockchain technology will revolutionize the current Internet domain name system and bring a new paradigm shift, but technology alone is far from winning this battle. Achieving readable naming is the primary task of social collaboration. A good domain name system can avoid many unnecessary conflicts and achieve long-term success.

In this article, I will explain why the Internet Domain Name System requires careful social collaboration and why we don't create more top-level domains. Instead, we plan to expand the namespaces available on ENS.

In short, we currently believe that this is the civic responsibility in the global namespace.

The following long article kills the cat! But please read it carefully because it is really important.

Social collaboration


A readable domain name is inherently social, unlike computer-generated machine identifiers, which are automatically generated without giving any social meaning.

The difference between two IPv6 addresses, while significant to computers, has no social significance. Few people know or care about the IP address of their device. In turn, the two readable domain names are vastly different in the social sense. As long as the meanings of the two readable domain names are different, the social nature is different and cannot be replaced. This uniqueness determines the importance of the ownership of the domain name.

Further, there can only be one owner of a readable domain name on the Internet. Imagine if you use a different browser or web service provider, type "google.com" and then jump to a different website, you will definitely feel wrong, right? To build a valuable Internet domain name system, you must maintain a global consensus namespace.

So the question is, who should the domain name belong to? According to what determines the ownership? When someone wants to create a new domain name, how can he communicate with other Internet users to make sure no one uses the same domain name? Therefore, rather than creating a new top-level domain is a technical issue, rather than a social collaboration issue. Technically, anyone can easily create new top-level domains, whether or not they use blockchain technology; we can easily create hundreds of new top-level domains and sell them to users. The real question is how to find a reliable way to ensure that new domain names are accepted by the entire Internet, thus protecting the long-term interests of users. In order to solve the problem of naming conflicts between different components in the network, all members need to reach a consensus on the same set of domain name rules.

In other words, in order to create a globally agreed namespace, we need to engage in close social collaboration with representatives and stakeholders around the world.

This is why ICANN exists. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a not-for-profit international organization that coordinates the entire Internet's domain name system. The ICANN meeting is open to the public (free to participate, but also webcast), attracting thousands of participants from around the world.

For those who are ridiculing ICANN, what we want to say is that ICANN, like any other human organization, does have shortcomings that can be blamed, but more importantly, because of ICANN, the Internet can be like today. This runs smoothly.

In addition, ICANN has established rules and processes for creating new top-level domains around the world, ensuring that each top-level domain on the Internet has only one owner. Everyone can apply for a dedicated top-level domain, and ICANN will try to ensure that the top-level domain is assigned to the organization that best serves its role. These collaboration mechanisms are critical to the maintenance of the Internet, as ICANN's motto: "One World, One Internet."

Native top-level domain on ENS: .ETH


When we released ENS in May 2017, we created a new top-level domain .ETH . We did not apply through the normal ICANN process at the time, for the following reasons:

ENS is an experimental technique. It was originally a small project written by several members of the Ethereum Foundation in their spare time. They were not sure whether the project was successful (the DAO just failed a year ago) or people. Will not use it. Knowing the responsibility of the project, the team was prepared to minimize the negative impact even if it failed. Only domain names of 7 or more were released (because the domain names with relatively short digits are rarer and more valuable). Now we are very confident in ENS's smart contract, opening a one-time auction of 3 to 6 character domain names, all domain names can be registered immediately after the auction).

At that time, ICANN had not yet opened up a new top-level domain application (it is not open now). Even though ICANN opened the application at the time, the entire process would last for years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, in this case, waiting for ICANN's approval is not realistic.

In other words, ENS needed a certain amount of experimental space at the time.

It turns out that there is still a great demand for such a decentralized decentralized blockchain domain name system. Although the application for the .ETH domain name was quite troublesome at first (we apologize if you lost the Ethereum because there was no public price; the current domain name has been changed from auction to immediate registration), only accepting Ethereum payment, you need Using the Web3 browser, the official did not carry out any marketing campaigns, only popular in a small number of geek circles… but in two and a half years there have been more than 310,000 Ethereum domain names registered (not Including subdomains, registration fees accumulate in excess of millions of dollars (incidentally, these registration fees do not enter the ENS developer's pocket, but are locked in a deposit-and-return smart contract ). There are currently more than 20 wallets supporting ENS (or promised to be supported soon), far surpassing other blockchain domain name services, and integrated into the Opera browser in the native way (Brave is the next one) and browsing to the center The most commonly used MetaMask wallet on the website.

It can be said that if the .ETH top-level domain is compared to a new set of DNS generic top-level domains (gTLDs) approved by ICANN eight years ago, .ETH is definitely one of the most successful new gTLDs on the Internet .


Fulfilling civic responsibility


We did some experimental work out of the regular process, but that doesn't mean that the project is mature now, and we still don't want to be a good citizen in the global namespace.

Last year, ENS officially left the Ethereum Foundation after receiving a grant, and established its own non-profit organization. The reason why the non-profit organizational structure is chosen is because we regard ENS as a public welfare undertaking. It is not only the infrastructure in the Ethereum ecosystem, but also has the potential to become an important part of the future Internet.

We changed the charging mode of the first move back to the annual fee mode to better solve the problem of domain name squatting, and at the same time, the annual fee was reasonably priced, which can prevent large-scale cybersquatting without affecting normal users. (The annual fee for most .ETH domain names is $5)

Before making any improvement decisions, we have been openly discussing for months, including topics on how to use the funds raised. You can read this and this article to understand the discussion at the time. The result of our final discussion is that the funds raised are best used to maintain the long-term improvement, maintenance and promotion of the ENS system. This will reduce the team's reliance on fundraising and ensure that ENS can provide long-term service to the Internet.

Under this model, if we create more top-level domains to sell, it is possible to get more revenue. In fact, inspired by ENS, many profit-making projects that are venture capitalists do the same: self-made blockchain-based top-level domains are sold to users (their systems are mostly minor in the ENS code). Do not make long-term plans at all, regardless of whether these domain names can be integrated into the global domain name space.

We deliberately avoid doing this. Because we are non-profit projects, we can not only limit the making of fast money, but always pay attention to the long-term interests of users and the Internet.

We believe that the departure from the ICANN process to create and sell new top-level domains not only undermines the long-term development of the blockchain domain name system, but also has no harm to users.

The more top-level domains in the chain created outside of the ICANN process (not the experimental top-level domains, but those created for quick money, with no respect for collaborative processes that are difficult to explore by the global Internet community) The top-level domain), the easier it is to create unnecessary confrontation with the global Internet community. Some people may want to "confront ICANN," but it also means being hostile to the global Internet community behind ICANN. We do not believe that there is any value in spending time and resources in this struggle.

For users, there are two serious flaws in ICANN's creation of new top-level domains: First, this unnecessary opposition makes it impossible for most users on the Internet to enjoy the convenience of the blockchain domain name system earlier. Such as security, anti-censorship and programmability.

Second, and most importantly, this means that blockchain domain names sold to users may never be able to access the global domain name space . In other words, these blockchain domain names are likely to be resold in the global domain name space in the future, resulting in the value of the blockchain domain name that the user originally purchased is worthless. For example, let's say we've created a new .WALLET top-level domain to sell domain names to users. The next time ICANN opens a new gTLD registration to the public, another person happens to apply for the .WALLET top-level domain (whether it's good or malicious) And also sell the same domain name to users – but for a wider range of users and deeper Internet domain name service systems. So, what is the value of a blockchain domain name that cannot be used in most scenarios of the Internet? This kind of conflict will at least lead to many unnecessary mistakes, and in the blockchain world, these mistakes are subject to heavy economic costs.

The success of the .ETH domain name experiment has proven the value of this technology. On the road to development, we want to shoulder the responsibilities as much as possible, including registering the .ETH top-level domain through ICANN's regular processes at the right time to protect the interests of users. We are also considering applying for other new top-level domains through the ICANN process and connecting them to the ENS system. Currently, our team is working hard to build relationships with the ICANN community, attend meetings of ICANN organizations, and promote blockchain technology and its benefits to the domain name system. To the ICANN community members who just saw this article: We are friendly!

Extend the namespaces available on ENS


But does this mean that ENS users can only use .ETH domain names? The ENS system actually provides domain name services for many projects outside the Ethereum ecosystem, such as the IPFS website, Tor's .onion address, and other digital currency items. We even built a project to record traditional DNS on ENS. If you only use .ETH to represent Ethereum, these applications will be very limited.

Our solution is to integrate the existing DNS namespace into the ENS system.

We have designed a system that can use DNSSEC to create a cryptographic certificate so that the owner of the DNS domain name can claim its ownership of the domain name on the ENS system.

For example, the Ethereum Foundation owns the DNS domain name “ethereum.org”; through our system, the Foundation can create an “ethereum.org” record in ENS (not ethereum.eth, which is different) . In this way, the Ethereum Foundation can not only use "ethereum.org" as a traditional website domain name (using DNS), but also set it as a digital currency collection address (using ENS).

The .XYZ domain name already supports this feature, and currently .LUXE, .KRED, and .ART domain names can also be implemented in a special way. In the near future, we will extend this capability to all DNS top-level domains implemented through DNSSEC, including most top-level domains, including the top-level domains that are currently used. In this way, we support and respect the DNS namespace that the entire Internet is using, providing new capabilities to domain owners through the ENS infrastructure while expanding the usability of the ENS system.


If you are always responsible, the blockchain-based domain name system will have a bright future. We believe that ENS will be the direction of Internet domain name evolution. It has its own development path and always respects and supports the existing domain name space and Internet community.

Related Links

  • Website : https://ens.domains/
  • Docs : https://docs.ens.domains/
  • Forum : https://discuss.ens.domains/
  • Gitter : https://gitter.im/ethereum/go-ethereum/name-registry
  • Email : [email protected]


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