XXX Domain: Destined for Failure

By - Posted under: News, Web on December 14, 2011

Just last week ICANN (International Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers), who controlled the World Wide Web’s domain, started selling the .XXX domain names.

Some histories about the .XXX domain first.

ICANN wanted a special domain to differentiate the pornographic websites than regular websites so that regular users won’t stumble onto a pornographic website by accident, and parents, IT managers, and etc can filter these websites with .XXX domains easily to prevent the teenage child, workers and regular people can and will be blocked easily from these pornographic websites.

Very good intention. But seriously?

The AP reports that 80,000 XXX domains were sold in pre­sale and many com­pa­nies like Pepsi and Nike lined up to pur­chase adult domains. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas report­ed­ly just paid $3,000 for a vari­ety of XXX URLs.

Nike will not want the domain Nike.XXX to be registered by some dubious companies and turn Nike into pornographic brand with a Nike porn site. Furthermore, universities will not want to allow pornographic websites to use their names, such as MSU.XXX or MSUGirls.XXX. So most of these 80,000 XXX domains were sold to legitimate corporations seeking to protect their names, brands and corporate images.

How about the real pornographic websites? From the information that we gather, there were just a few real pornographic companies registering them. A lot of these pornographic websites make their fortune when users stumble onto their websites, so the good intention of ICANN on preventing innocent people from stumbling onto a pornographic website is a moot point. Furthermore, with the .XXX domain, they can be blocked easily (just a simple *.xxx will do) so it is not a surprise anyone with half a brain that real pornographic websites will not take up the triple X domain.

A quick tour to GoDaddy website, one of the largest web hosting companies and domain registration companies in the world, showed that a .XXX domain is USD99 per year, while regular domain ranges from USD 11.99 to 19.99 per year.

Accord­ing to the web­site, if I want­ed to launch an adult web­site under that URL, I actu­al­ly have to become an “Inter­net Com­mu­ni­ty Mem­ber” and then con­firm my sta­tus of “the spon­sored adult enter­tain­ment com­mu­ni­ty”. My guess is that this is how the ICANN polices the URLs, to ensure that some­one isn’t reg­is­ter­ing some­one else’s brand as a porn site. I have no plans to do so, which con­ve­nient­ly means I do not have to become a part of the “Community.” GoDad­dy tells me this too, and is — for­tu­nate­ly, I guess — only too happy to help me park my URL for the same exor­bi­tant fee.

Atop GoDad­dy’s XXX domain reg­is­tra­tion page is this: “Let’s be adult about it. Cre­ate an adult Web pres­ence or pro­tect your brand.” This is fol­lowed by an expla­na­tion of why you’d want to reg­is­ter an XXX domain. Note what it starts with:

Secure your brand. Pro­tect your rep­u­ta­tion.

Per­haps you’d like to cre­ate an adult enter­tain­ment web­site. Or maybe you’re here to keep your brand from being reg­is­tered as a .XXX by some­one else. What­ev­er your rea­sons for want­i­ng a .XXX domain, you’ve come to the right place. To check the avail­abil­i­ty of your domain, type the name you want into the search box above.

The mes­sage is clear: If you don’t want some­one launch­ing a porn XXX domain with your name or brand, you’d bet­ter let GoDad­dy take your money and reg­is­ter it for you.

This scene was like during the early days of the web where companies and person rushing to snap up domain names to protect their own interest or making some quick money by selling the legitimate domain back to the companies. But this time there is a dif­fer­ce in one fun­da­men­tal way: Those snap­ping up the domains for pro­tec­tion will never use them. No one out­side the porn indus­try wants to run a live XXX domain web­site. These busi­ness­es and uni­ver­si­ties are sim­ply buy­ing them in what GoDad­dy actu­al­ly calls “Defen­sive Reg­is­tra­tions” to hide them from view for­ev­er (and they’ll pay GoDad­dy year­ly fees to do so).

I think GoDaddy should send ICANN a flower, a box of chocolate with a Thank-You note while laughing all the way to the bank.

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