A traversal view of the .nz space: activity and popularity
Sebastian Castro •
We keep exploring the difference between namespaces under .nz in a series of blog posts from our Research team. Today we are finding out which .nz domain is the most popular of them all. Stay tuned!
Here’s what you’ll learn about:
Blog post 2 (you are reading it now): Passively looking into the DNS: active domains and popular domains in .nz namespace.
Blog post 3 (coming soon): Web content and machine learning in .nz namespace.
So what’s in the .nz space? A brief reminder.
Within .nz, domain registrations can happen directly using .nz (example.nz) or under one of the fifteen subspaces, like .co.nz (trademe.co.nz) or govt.nz (covid19.govt.nz). Not all spaces are open to registration by anyone. For example, .govt.nz is only available to government organisations.
For this story, we are going to divide the .nz domains into four groups: .nz for domains registered directly under .nz, .co.nz for domains under .co.nz, .govt.nz, and other, capturing the remaining thirteen subspaces (.net.nz, .org.nz, .kiwi.nz, etc.)
The .co.nz domains are solidly the majority in our namespace, followed by .nz domains. Over the years, registrations directly under .nz are gaining space against the other group. The .govt.nz has around 1,000 domains that are hard to distinguish.v
Passively looking into the DNS
As guardians of the .nz namespace, one of our most critical tasks is to take care of the DNS for .nz, allowing people who chose to have a .nz domain name to see it work all the time.
To achieve this task, we run an extensive infrastructure worldwide, under our control or via contracted providers. Our systems handle over 60 BILLION DNS queries per month for .nz domains. That’s a lot of data we can look into. To give you a glimpse of what can be done, we’ll show you how many of the domains in the .nz register are active and which domains are the most popular.
An active domain in this context is one observing DNS traffic in our infrastructure. We have a massive dataset of DNS queries going back to 2012. On any given day, we can go back in time and see if a domain saw activity.
In general, 98% of the .co.nz and .govt.nz domains are active on any of the dates of our analysis, followed by the other group with 96% and last is .nz with 92%. We are not surprised to see .co.nz being more active than .nz domains, as the latter is newer and more likely to be registered for reservation purposes.
In 2017, we developed an algorithm called Domain Popularity, using the DNS data we have for .nz. In 2018, our colleague Jing Qiao posted an analysis of domain popularity per country. Using the same definition, we can identify the most popular domain per group in our selected dates.
A domain with a high popularity score means it’s popular in the DNS traffic.
Domain popularity across countries (blog post.)
The answer is easy and straightforward, and it doesn’t vary across years:
- In the other group, the most popular domain is nameserver.net.nz, a local DNS provider in New Zealand.
- In the .govt.nz, the winner is digital.govt.nz, home of the Digital Government site.
- In both .co.nz and .nz groups the winners are mega.co.nz/mega.nz, a well-known file sharing platform.
Sum it up
To sum this blog post up:
- The most popular site under .nz is mega.nz.
- Over 90% of .nz domains see activity on a daily basis.