Domaining for Beginners, Part 1: What is a Domain Name?

Image via The Customize Windows

Image via The Customize Windows

Welcome to Domaining for Beginners, where we’ll focus on the basics of domains and look at everything from how to choose a good domain name to how new top-level domains are affecting the industry. 

45% of NamesCon attendees in 2016 and 2017 were first-timers, so we’ve created this “Domains 101” content series to help newcomers make sense of our exciting industry. 

Part 1 of Domaining for Beginners will look at what a domain name is, and how a domain name works.

Chances are you’ve heard the term domain name before, but have you ever wondered what it actually means? Domain Name System, or DNS, is a naming system that provides addresses to web servers and pages. It’s also commonly known as the “Phonebook of the Internet.” 

Domain names are used to find and identify computers on the Internet in place of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which are strings of numbers. The benefit of domain names is that they are much easier to remember, and can be used to represent one more IP addresses. After all, it just doesn’t seem that efficient to memorize a bunch of numbers, and it would make surfing the web much harder. 

A DNS is required for every web server so that it can translate each domain name into its’ matching IP address. They work within a hierarchy that includes a top-level domain and a second level domain. The second level domain is the name of the website – everything to the left of the dot in the domain name. This defines the site’s identity. It could technically be anything you want, but it has to be unique. An effective and desirable domain (considered “premium” within the industry) comes with a whole range of qualifications that help determine how much each domain is worth—but more on that later.

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Images via namecheap

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To the right of the dot is the top-level domain (TLD), or in our case, “.com.” Every domain name will have a suffix that will indicates what TLD it belongs to, including but not limited to: gov, org, edu, net, ca, etc.  Since 1985—which is when .com was first used—a number of new TLDs have been created, and as of 2017, there are over 880 domain extensions, including .blog, .net, .web, .global, and many others. These new TLDs give businesses an opportunity to select a TLD that better fits their brand. We’ll give new TLDs a closer look in a future installment of Domaining for Beginners. 

When you type in a domain name into your web browser, the DNS system automatically translates it into the IP address. When the IP address is found, your computer connects with the web host of the requested page, and the page that you are looking for is then displayed on your computer.  Think of the DNS system as your car’s GPS. This would make your domain name the address of your destination, and the IP address your destination’s longitude and latitude. Your GPS doesn’t require you to type in your destination’s coordinates and automatically “translating” your destination, generating the route you need to take. Clearly, it’s much easier to type in the address as opposed to the coordinates—just like how it’s much easier to enter a domain name than remembering a string of numbers. 

URLs are sometimes assumed to be the same thing as domain names, but this isn’t the case. The URL is a longer Internet address that provides much more information than a domain name, including things like the folder name, dates, and specific page addresses. An example of this would be the URL you see above in your browser window right now. The domain name to this page is still “namescon.com,” but the URL that you see in your URL bar also includes the title of this article and the exact location in which it exists on the website. 

Now that you know what domain names are, stay tuned for the next installment of Domaining for Beginners, which will look at what it takes to create an effective domain name for your brand.

Cryptocurrency 101

They used to inhabit the lesser-known corners of the internet, but today cryptocurrencies are mainstream news. Curious to learn more? Read on for a primer on the basics, with some helpful links for further reading.

 So what is cryptocurrency?

Blockgeeks defines cryptocurrencies as, when everything is stripped away, “limited entries in a database no one can change without fulfilling specific conditions.” These entries just so happen to exist as digital cash, with a monetary value that is confirmed by an absolute census on a decentralized network.

This network is called blockchain. It’s a collaborative system, like we see with peer-to-peer file sharing. Instead of having one centralized authority (like a bank) to act as the arbiter of balances and transactions, each node in the network needs to agree on all of the balances it contains, or the whole chain is broken.

This system addresses what was the major stumbling block of all previous digital cash payment networks: the need to prevent “double spending” – when one entity spends the same amount twice. Instead of the third party acting as the guarantor, every user shares this role equally.

What kinds of cryptocurrencies are out there?

It all started with Bitcoin, initially proposed by a mysterious software developer (or group) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who introduced the system that holds everything together. Bitcoin has become the gold-standard for other cryptocurrencies, which as a group are called altcoins. Altcoins have tried to promote themselves as modified or improved versions of Bitcoins, with varying results.

Currently there are over 700 different cryptocurrencies in existence. A few of the other more successful variants are Ethereum (ETH), Ripple, Litecoin, NEM, and Bitcoin Cash - each with their own advantages and disadvantages for users, exchanges, and miners.

Click to expand. Infographic credit to Blockgeeks.

The above infographic illustrates some basic properties common to all cryptocurrencies:

1. Unlike transferring money from one bank account to another, you cannot reverse a transaction once it has been confirmed. There is no going back, no safety net. There are no insurance policies in place for account holders. If you get scammed or hacked, no one can help you. Do your research, make sure you know who you’re sending money to, keep your wallet secure.

2. Fancy yourself a man (or woman) of mystery? Well good news, using cryptocurrencies means that your identity can stay in the shadows. Coins are sent to so-called wallet addresses, identified as a chain of around 30 unique characters. Analysing transaction flows, while possible, does not automatically connect cryptocurrency addresses to physical identities.

3. International wire transfers are expensive for the sender, with painful wait times for the recipient. Cryptocurrency transactions are near-instant, and confirmed within minutes. As everything takes place in digital space, the geographic location of sender and recipient is no longer a factor.

4. All hail the magic of big numbers and strong cryptography. More and more lately, we’ve seen that the current system of third-party institutions has multiple weak points for hackers to exploit. Because of the public key – private key cryptocurrency system, your personal address is more secure than your bank.

5. Using cryptocurrency is available to anyone with a computer. It’s open-source, free software that you just have to download, install, and you’re ready to go.

Why do cryptocurrencies have value anyways?

Well, because of their decentralized nature, these currencies derive their value from the community of users, instead of from a centralized authority like a bank, credit card company, or government regulation. This is one reason why we’ve seen values fluctuate so much, based more in supply and demand like a stock or commodity instead of a traditional currency.

What they need to have value is a general agreement that cryptocurrencies will be used as a medium of exchange – or a shared belief that they will be used as such in the future. The variation between these two factors also plays into the volatility we see in crypto values today.

How do you get cryptocurrency funds?

Once you have the software installed, you can receive funds as payment for goods or services, you can buy them at a digital exchange, you can exchange them with anyone, or you can earn them through mining. Assuming your country of residence hasn’t regulated or outright banned the use of cryptocurrencies...

 What is mining, and how does it work?

Mining is the process of verifying transactions and adding them to the public ledger, executed by hundreds of thousands of specialized computers throughout the world. Every ten minutes or so, mining computers collect a few hundred pending bitcoin exchanges into a block, which is then turned into a mathematical puzzle. From there, it’s a race to solve the puzzle. The first to solve it announces the answer to the other miners on the network, who then check to confirm that the sender of funds has the right to spend the money, and if the solution provided is indeed correct. When enough miners grant their approval, the block is cryptographically added to the decentralized ledger that exists on each node of the network, and everyone moves on to the next block.

Why the race to be first?

Well, the miner who initially solved the puzzle is awarded 25 bitcoins, but only after another 99 blocks have been added to the ledger. Big incentives for all miners’ continual participation in the system – participation that demands huge outputs of computing power, resulting in many miners forming pools to consolidate their number-crunching resources and increase their chances of reward.

Dig Deeper:

Forbes.com: Blockchain, Bitcoin And Ethereum Explained

Business Insider: Bitcoin is going wild — here's what the cryptocurrency is all about

TheNextWeb: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Ethereum, patiently explained

ENS Names - Building the Internet of Tomorrow

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Earlier today, NamesCon announced blockchain as a primary content theme for our upcoming events, beginning with NamesCon China in Shanghai on October 12, 2017 and continuing at NamesCon Global in Las Vegas from January 28-31, 2018.

We are thrilled to announce Mano Samy, founder of ENSListing.com, as one of our keynote speakers during NamesCon China. ENSListing is a leading marketplace for ENS domain investors to buy and sell their names. It supports at-will auction, allowing true price discovery, an open bidding process, escrow services for secure ownership and payment transfers, verification services to check domain ownership, and an open discussion forum.

Samy explains further:

“ENSListing will soon be releasing ENS sub-domain services, making every ENS domain name a TLD. When an ENS domain is parked with ENSListing Smart Contract, the domain will act as a TLD, opening up the possibility for an investor to sell unlimited domain names under that TLD. If you park restaurant.eth with ENSListing, you can sell <domainname>.restaurant names. ENS domain investors should closely watch this space, because at this early stage it is a buyer’s market, making it the right time for investors to enter.”

But why are ENS names so important? Blockchain users are assigned permanent ‘wallet’ addresses, which are a string of unique characters that can receive, send or hold cryptocurrency. The recent hack of CoinDash.io in July, in which hackers accessed the CoinDash website during their ICO and changed the complex wallet address, is a sober illustration of the potential for fraud. Investors unwittingly sent $7.4 million USD to the hacked address, and the hacker walked away with all of the raised funds. Wallet addresses are unique, complex and nearly impossible to remember accurately, increasing the opportunity both for nefarious hacking and innocent human error. Using an ENS name, such as CoinDash.eth, would have simplified these transactions and minimized the margin for error or tampering.

Mano Samy is the founder of ENSListing.com, the leading marketplace to auction, buy, and sell ENS names. ENSListing is used by many of the ENS domain early investors to list their names for sale. Samy has also been instrumental in the formation of a Blockchain Industry Consortia within the oil and gas industry, implementing blockchain-based solutions for oil and gas business processes.

Rock Around the Blockchain

NamesCon strives to nurture an open community where people from all industries, nationalities, companies and perspectives can come together to share ideas. As an organization, our goal is to become an incubator for innovation, and one of the biggest industry disruptors we currently see on the horizon is blockchain.

Today, we’re excited to announce that blockchain will be a primary content pillar for both NamesCon China and NamesCon Global in Las Vegas. To this end, we’d like to share with you two projects we’re supporting: ENSListing, a secondary marketplace for eth wallet addresses, and Nametoken.io, a decentralized domain platform.

“Blockchain is a trustless ledger compared to DNS today, especially on the aftermarket: now we have manual or half-automated processes on transactions. A trusted ledger can provide new features such as co-ownership of domains. WHOIS privacy, domain transfers, and escrows are by default handled through smart contracts.

Also the peer-to-peer architecture avoids censorship or downtime due to the decentralized system, compared to the hierarchical DNS. We look forward to featuring a couple of projects over the upcoming NamesCon events to evangelize, educate and showcase the interesting revolutionary ideas around blockchain that we have been uncovering.”

Soeren von Varchmin
President, NamesCon and WorldHostingDays

But what do leaders in the domain industry have to say? We asked Andrew Rosener, CEO of Media Options, for his take:

“As the world races to find real applications of blockchain technology, domain names represent one of the most obvious use cases. A decentralized blockchain could and should ultimately replace the centralized approach to DNS taken by ICANN today. Imagine that renewal fees, transfer fees, WHOIS updates, transfers and other domain actions were processed by distributed miners who are paid for “processing” those transactions and inscribing them on the blockchain where they are indelible.  

Also, imagine the ability to easily allow fractional ownership and investment in domain names. Unprecedented liquidity and efficient pricing models. The ability to insure your domain, or even better, no need for insurance as theft would in essence be impossible. Exciting changes are coming to DNS.”

Andrew Rosener
CEO, Media Options

We hope you’re as excited as we are about these developments, and that you support our commitment to nurture innovation and thought leadership within the domain industry by introducing novel concept tracks to our agenda. Technological and philosophical breakthroughs result in constant changes to the landscape of our industry, and we as educators must evolve in stride.

NEED A BLOCKCHAIN PRIMER? WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED.


WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? REGISTER TODAY!

Today, we announce the opportunity for attendees to purchase their NamesCon ticket using either Bitcoin or Ether. In celebration of their current ICO (Initial Coin Offering - a means for a cryptocurrency startup to raise funds), Nametoken is offering free nametokens (NAT) with your NamesCon ticket purchase until September 30, 2017. NATs can be used for registering, listing, parking, buying and selling domains on Nametoken’s decentralized domain marketplace. Read the whitepaper on Nametoken to learn more.

As always, we are here to support the domain community and that begins with listening. If you have comments or suggestions on how we can improve any aspect of NamesCon, or want to share something you’re doing for the industry that you think we need to know about, drop us a line or submit a speaking pitch here.

Please note: NamesCon and WorldHostingDays strive to share information about up and coming technology that is relevant to our industry. The offer with Nametoken is neither an invitation nor a proposal to invest.

The Story Behind the NamesCon Brand Changes

The past year has been marked by many new developments for the NamesCon organization, and we have just a few more tricks up our sleeve for you! You may have noticed some visual and structural changes to the NamesCon website in recent days. While this is very much a work in progress, we wanted to uphold the transparency and honesty we’ve built within the industry and share the motivation behind these changes as they’re happening.

Defining the goals of a brand restructuring

After joining the WorldHostingDays family in late 2016, we recognized this was a prime opportunity for self reflection and improvement. We’ve used this window to take advantage of the influx of new talent and infrastructure by examining how we could improve our flagship 2018 event in Las Vegas. This process led to bigger-picture ideas for brand growth and development, and a decision to reach new markets by introducing smaller regional events focused on education. (See highlights from NamesCon India).

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If you’re familiar with NamesCon, you know we’re billed as “The Domain Name Industry Event”. While we still hold ourselves to the high standards this reputation demands, adding regional conferences means that “the” domain event has transformed into many events, each with its own local variations. This led us to...

Challenge 1: Define a new tagline to describe our organization.

We also wanted to add a strong visual element to our existing logomark – which we’d refined just two years ago and didn’t want to change again. We needed a design that could scale with the growth of our brand. 

Challenge 2: Design a new graphic to incorporate into the existing NamesCon textmark that is quickly identifiable as an asset belonging to a particular region.

Understanding our priorities

The tone, integrity and spirit of our established event in Las Vegas is an integral part of the NamesCon brand, as is the value we provide to attendees through delivering content that examines trends and issues across the entire industry. With that in mind, we decided to rename our annual January conference to “NamesCon Global” – a name we thought to be especially relevant within the context of smaller regional shows.

After reading attendee survey responses from the past two years we know that quality networking is a primary objective for most NamesCon attendees. This overwhelming emphasis on networking made us realize that connection is at the heart of our mandate as an organization. As event producers our job is to connect the dots – between industries, businesses, vendors, and most importantly, people.

Beyond connection, we also aim to facilitate education and awareness about our thriving industry by bringing experts to the stage not just in Las Vegas, but to audiences around the world.

Refining the design

These themes of connection, education, and global reach would ultimately serve as the guiding principles for both our new logo and tagline.

We explored several phrases that might help explain our conference to a new attendee, and ultimately settled on “Master Your Domains” as the best explanation of an individual’s personal objective for attending. You are the director of your own success, the hero in the story, the attendee we’re catering to. The tagline should reflect your ambition and not our own; our role is to simply facilitate your journey.

Color treatments were utilized so that each event would be instantly recognizable, especially as we develop regional conferences year over year. We opted for cityscapes to serve as the background for marketing materials because we wanted to provide visual context for each region rather than just naming a destination.

Colour treatments and the new globe logo applied to two of our upcoming events.

Colour treatments and the new globe logo applied to two of our upcoming events.

Once we had clarified internally that “connecting the dots” is our M.O., the globe comprised of dots felt like the right choice for our new supporting logomark, and we love that we can tailor the duotone design of the globe to match the color treatment for each event. We felt the completed design struck the right balance between consistency and customizability for all the new events under the NamesCon umbrella.

We hope you’re even a fraction as excited about these new changes as we are, and that these branding upgrades more accurately reflect who we are as an organization. Ultimately, NamesCon is here to help you do better in business. To master your domains, wherever you happen to find yourself at home on this earth.

Today's Highlight: .NET and .COM

Today's Highlight: .NET and .COM

Unlike the new gTLD domain names we’ve been featuring this week, all of the .COM and .NET domains in Sedo’s GreatDomains Auction + The Future Edition were submitted by the domain community at large.  Whether you’re selling, bidding or just watching the action unfold, we’ve got the inside scoop on the original TLDs, still constantly at the top of the playing field.

GreatDomains Auction: Radix Partner Profile

GreatDomains Auction: Radix Partner Profile

Started in 2012, Radix is the world’s 3rd largest domain portfolio registry, and Asia’s largest gTLD applicant to ICANN. Radix is part of the Directi Group which is currently valued at $1.4 billion. Radix has been an active participant in ICANN’s process to expand the internet naming system, and has obtained the rights to operate over 9 new gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) including .ONLINE, .STORE, .TECH, .WEBSITE, .SPACE, .PRESS, .SITE, .HOST, and .FUN.

GreatDomains Auction: .CLUB Partner Profile

.CLUB is the most used new top-level domain and the perfect web address for a membership or subscription based startup, or anyone sharing or expressing their passion. Priced right for hosting and email bundles, .CLUB is a profitable choice for registrars and resellers. If a business is building a community of members around a product or service, there’s no better domain than .CLUB. 

Featured Attendee Profile: Davinderpal Bhatia

DNA Sequencing Inc owns most of the top Exact Match Domains in this niche such as DNAsequencing.com, DNAsequence.com, DNAmap.com, DNAcode.com, HumanGenome.com, DNAtechnology.com etc. These domains get type-in traffic, are meaningful, pass the radio test and have large search volumes and cost per click. A company which wants to dominate the $ 20 Billion per year market in online space can use this portfolio and leave the competition behind.

Tricks of the Trade for Successful Domain Name Bidding

Tricks of the Trade for Successful Domain Name Bidding

With Sedo's GreatDomains Auction+ well underway as we lead up to the Grand Finale at NamesCon India in Mumbai next Friday, we thought we'd share some tricks and tips for successful bidding. Auctions are both exciting and nerve-wracking – when you're bidding on a name you really want, how can you improve your chances of landing it?