Should You Buy a .scot Domain Name?


Not a country, in fact, but a genericTLD

Should you buy a .scot domain name?  


This is a personal opinion but in most cases I am advising clients and others not to buy the .scot domain.  

Domain names are a typical modern day Internet product in that they can be made up out of nothing and then sold at great expense.

You could make domain names up all day . . . and in fact that is already happening and .scot is not even a country code domain, and resides in a delegated roll-out of 1300 'generic' Top-Level-Domains.


DON'T ALL RUSH AT ONCE


I am not going to completely throw out the idea of .scot.  If you like the sound of it then it is always going to be of value to you, but if you already have a working .org, .co.uk or .com address, then think hard about .scot, because the joke may be on you.

You might think that .scot will help your business, idea or blog, but this is not automatically the case.  It is extremely unlikely that if you are looking to feature in internet search engines that .scot will help you.

If .scot is the only web address you own then it may be worthwhile paying the extra money — although it is a lot extra.  To ask people for £30 a year when Top Level Domains can be purchased for a fraction of that, is robbery.  

If search engines were doing their job properly, then a search for ‘plumber’ or ‘publisher’ should return results geographically close to you.  

For this to happen the person searching needs to be logged into their browser, or have some kind of location service switched on — but even then .scot is only going to play a small part in returning your site in the results.  

Given that dotSCOT is not a country based domain then the search engines will have to rely on other much more complicated associations, if they are going to try and place you and your services as Scottish.

TLDs (Top Level Domains) — which are .com and .co.uk —  are by far and away the strongest when it comes to ranking — but not everyone is obsessed with search engine rankings, and so there are other reasons you may want a .scot.   

In that case it helps to have a look at what you are paying for.  

WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR? (AND WHO ARE YOU PAYING?)


The main reason for your dotSCOT purchase will probably be vanity.  It is no coincidence that the launch of .scot coincided with the Scottish Independence Referendum.  ICANN and the other corporate entities involved in this money-spinner have been aware for some time that in the later part of 2014 there was going to be a swelling in patriotic feeling, both among YES and NO voters.  

This is why you should not buy a .scot unless you are planning a small blog or other vanity project, and have the extra money to do so.  Commercially speaking .scot will be  unlikely to serve your business.

Now and then in the past, there have been successes in individual country domains, but these have been down to the serendipities of English in combination with the various country codes:

 
.se — country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) for Sweden — has been popular because of the amount of words ending in these two letters;

similarly the small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has seen huge economic benefits from people purchasing the .tv domain;

and the same has to be said of Montenegro, which runs a domain registry for the ccTLD .me


It’s hard to see .scot fitting into this category, and so the primary reason for a dotSCOT purchase is to make yourself look Scottish to other Scots.   

Other than that, you are really only lining the pockets of the highly mysterious organisation known as ICANN.

ICANN CAN!


It is hard to find out much about ICANN.  What is known is that it has great lobbying power, and that it is a profit-seeking organisation which in its own words considers the domain registrars to be its customers.  I don’t like that because if ICANN really was a non-profit-seeking body there for the benefit of humanity, then Internet users would be its ‘customers’.  This attitude however is quite visible from ICANN’s YouTube channel in videos like this one.
 
In that video, Akram Atallah, President of the Global Domains Division not only makes a repeated reference to registrars like GoDaddy as his ‘customers’ but he indicates that he would like to do away with ICANN’s compliance department entirely.

So while there is a statement on Wikipedia to the effect that ICANN is a ‘a non-profit corporation that coordinates the Internet's global domain name system’, you’d be advised to look at the commercial interests of its board and members and you’ll see the many links and conflicts of interest there are between ICANN employees and commercial registries, as well as consultancies which develop policies and also help market domain names.  


LINK: ICANN BOARD OF DIRECTORS CONFLICTS OF INTEREST (APRIL 2014)




Of course, we are not running out of domains. Instead, this is a way for registries to make money, and that is why personally, I am not happy about lining the pockets of ICANN in purchasing anything other than top-level domains.

SCOTLAND IS NOT A COUNTRY! (IN THEIR EYES)

So there are pros and cons, but the main reason I reject stuff like this that I dislike secretive private organisations that administer what should be public services.  

I dislike funding such organisations and I dislike their attempts to appeal to either fear or vanity to pay them increasingly large annual retainers for what in many cases is nothing at all.

All of that said, I always remind people that nobody can predict what the Internet or indeed a URL will look like in the future.   In twenty years, who knows — ICANN could have switched us all off — or more likely, we won’t use URLs as we know them at all. I can't predict the future, so these are just my opinions today.

It’s sad that in the case of .scot some Scottish people feel they are doing something good for their country in purchasing it, and the adverts are playing to this, which is fairly vile. 

It’s unfortunate that many of the people that voted YES in Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum feel that having a .co.uk address embarrasses them, or that it is a disgrace.

I can't really answer this, but it comes up quite often — the idea that having a .co.uk address is not compatible with Scottish national aspirations.  If that's how you feel, remember that an organisation that doesn't care about your independence is playing on this, and it's them you're paying.  

There are 1300 other gTLDs (generic Top-Level-Domains) to chose from, and I've linked to them below.  These domain addresses are not country based and are entirely mercenary and money-making strings.

Why is .scot is not a ccTLD (country code Top-Level-Domain) and why is it just a so-called generic Top-Level Domain?

Scotland is a country after all but it is quite smugly not being recognised as such in the case of .scot.  

Scotland is in fact being recognised by ICANN as a generic term and ranks with 
.yoga
.forsale
.fly
.republican
.cash
.wtf
.sexy
.fish
.coffee
Have a look at the rest of the new ICANN delegated strings below, and ask yourself why .scot is not a country code.

In the meantime, one must always be pragmatic, and despite my fantastic urge to buy a few .fish domain names, I am going to keep my money.  

If your concern is being found in search engines, then you would be advised, by me at least, to avoid .scot.  If you want to support Scotland there are better ways to do it.  I think that dotSCOT while doubtless well intentioned, has turned out to be a fairly cycnical exercise.

You are not being unpatriotic if you choose a .com or even a .co.uk address.  Eventually .co.uk will be replaced by .uk, and although this will take some time it will certainly happen for the simple reason that it is three characters shorter.  

Oh, and also because you will be asked to pay again for something you already own.

I voted YES in 2014, but I would definitely vote NO to this.  It’s wrong in so many ways that Scotland hasn't yet achieved its national independence, but that doesn’t bother ICANN and it doesn’t bother search engines either.  I think Alec Salmond was ill-informed when he agreed to give his backing to this and said:
The time is ripe for the worldwide family of Scots to have their own domain, reflecting an online community defined by a shared commitment to Scottish identity, culture and economic promotion.
Here is the new gTLDs list to which .scot belongs (opens in a new window).  There are currently 400 on the list, although ICANN expect there to be about 1300 after the roll-out is complete.  Dot Scot is in poor company — 
.poker 
.wedding 
.fly 
.work 
.here 
.gent
.rehab 
are just some of the other gems on offer.


SOME QUOTES


"ICANN has a conflict of interest in pursuing the global public interest since its own financial interests are at odds with keeping costs down for Internet users and businesses,"
Daniel Castro, senior analyst for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation


"I really can’t see a legitimate upside where new benefits [of the new gTLDS] outweigh costs, and everyone I mention this to feels the same way. People just shake their heads. It’s all about the money. They [ICANN] are creating these extensions because they can."

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School marketing professor Peter Fader


 "....when a decision is taken about a possible new top-level domain, ICANN's job is to work out, in a transparent and accountable manner, whether it is really in the best interest of the world as a whole, not just of those launching the new domain. It also means that ICANN's use of the funds should be spent in a beneficent way...."

Tim Berners-Lee


LINK:  http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/delegated-strings



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