Guest Post: The times, they are a’changing…

This Guest Post is from InternetNZ Member, Don Hollander.

The domain name space is changing – both globally and within New Zealand – and we’re not keeping up.

For years the domain name space consisted of two or three character Top Level Domain (TLDs) names – the name to the right of the last dot.  This changed a little bit in 2001.  But, in 2010 the name space started changing dramatically with the introduction of TLDs in Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese (traditional and simplified) and many more.  And in 2013, a huge number of new names started getting introduced – both ASCII and non-ASCII.  And the pace continues at a rate of about one new TLD every working day entering the Root.

The name space in New Zealand has also changed.  Besides allowing registration at the second level late in 2014, .nz has for several years allowed macrons to be included in names to provide support for the Maori language – one of New Zealand three official languages.  And we’ve also had the introduction of .kiwi into our community.

It is important that all system allow the input, storage, processing and displaying of domain names (and e-mail addresses) consistently. 

Computer Programmers are generally very nice people.  They know the concept of GIGO – Garbage In = Garbage Out.  So, they put steps in place to make sure that the e-mail addresses or URLs or Domain Names entered into a system are valid, or at least likely to be valid.  But the assumptions that they may have made 15 years ago when e-mail addresses started being captured into business application are probably not valid anymore.  Top Level Domain Names are now mostly more than three characters.  And they may very well have non-ASCII characters.  And even at the second or third level of the name space, or even the user name in an e-mail address, may be non-ASCII or different from expected.

And yet, our applications and websites and e-mail systems can’t support them.    It’s time that developers and system architects started looking at their systems to make sure that you can support these new Top Level Domains.

So, it’s time for the management and architects and software engineers and system administrators to look at your systems to make sure that they’re accommodating the Internet of today, and not just that from the turn of the century.

There’s a group of people working on this issue from all over the world.  You can monitor their progress at or sign up to one of their mailing lists and lurk or, better yet, participate!


Don Hollander