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The .Jobs Drama

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Did you even know you could type in xyz.jobs and get to, in some cases, a web site?

In some cases. There are only about 15 thousand .jobs sites registered (compared to 77 million .com sites) but this silly four-letter word is currently embroiled in a huge dispute between the Society for Human Resource Management and Employ Media, a domain name registry manager.

Way back in 2005, SHRM and Employ Media thought it would be an awesome idea to get together and get the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to approve a new top-level domain (like .com, .org, etc): that was .jobs. Wouldn’t it be cool, they thought, if everyone looking for a job at the New York Times would only have to type NYTimes.jobs, rather than try to figure out if it was http://nytco.com/careers or http://careers.nytimes.com or what? They said that only companies could get these domains and you could only use “the legal name of an employer and/or a name or abbreviation by which the employer is commonly known”—so as much as Apple might like to register http://steve.jobs, they’d be stuck with Apple.jobs.

Fast forward to last fall. It turns out that Employ Media has been opening beta sites like Boston.jobs and directing traffic to sites owned by DirectEmployers. Which was kind of against the original charter, so ICANN asked Employ Media and SHRM to create an amendment to the charter either officially sanctioning this or prohibiting it.

We’ll let David Manaster at ERE.net take it from here:

The proposed amendment was posted to a website bearing both the SHRM and .jobs logos, and the web site announces a public comment period beginning on March 23rd and ending tomorrow, Friday, April 9, 2010. There appears to have been little attempt to notify the public that this public comment period had begun, or indeed that it was almost over, beyond a link buried deep on SHRM’s Copyrights & Permissions page.

Lance Haun at Rehaul makes the point even more clear: “Nobody knew about it until this last Wednesday. Not even the folks at SHRM. The public comment period ends today (Friday).”

So now you have a company that’s supposed to be managing a domain in a pretty standard way for SHRM (which, though we don’t know the terms of the deal, is probably getting a flat fee from Employ Media to act as the “sponsor” of the .jobs domain) that instead has access to all these other domains. It’s pretty easy to decide who gets Microsoft.jobs, after all. But who gets SiliconValley.jobs? Who gets NewYorkCity.jobs or journalism.jobs or any of those? Manaster says the amendment “would allow Employ Media to choose who could use the domain. It might even let it auction it to the highest bidder. That could be very lucrative, but it is an inappropriate role for the manager of a TLD to reserve a portfolio of domains for itself and then handpick who gets to use them.”

In short: This is a mess.

photo: emutree

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