[linux-elitists] ICANN frenzy!

Heather star@starshine.org
Mon Mar 5 15:51:25 PST 2001

> DNS is a consensus reality, but some people's consensus reality is more
> fucked up than others. I know that some of you on this list are ICANN
> members, and some (all?) of you have .org domains. What do you all think
> about this?  If it's ok to quote you in LJ please let me know.
> (I know I don't want to get non-profit status to keep _my_ .org...)
> http://www.icann.org/melbourne/proposed-verisign-agreements-topic.htm

Here's my reply, you can quote me, and you can publish it as a full
article, or part of a larger article in Linux Journal if you desire. 
I've cc'd Mike Orr so we can consider it for an article in LG as well.
The general comments address at ICANN "comments@icann.org" has been copied.
(I'll let you know if I see anything but a form letter back from them.)
You may forward it to any other applicable lists.

For Mike Orr and Don Marti, administrivia: 
		I dunno if it should go both places, nut this certainly
		isn't what I have in mind as the April blurb for the TAG
		column, so it would have to be an article.  But it should
		definitely go in at least one of LG or LJ.

Fellow elitists: I suppose I ought to finally get around to dusting off 
		Starshine's site, I've been working on everybody's stuff
		but my own :)  Comments about the item below are welcome
		of course.  

		Careful what style of reply you do this time around.

Distribution unlimited as long as the content is not modified and 
attribution to me is retained.  copyright Heather Stern (c) March 2001.

An Open Letter to ICANN

On the matter of considering attempting to enforce that .org domains shall 
only be used by government sanctioned non-profit organizations:

I live on the borders of this divide and it would screw me up immensely.

Around the time that I originally picked up my domain, Jim and I were
both working in the corporate world, but had useful things we could do with
a domain of our own - privacy for our mail in regards to personal interests,
as well as put up some helpful information on a web site.

As we know, since The Dawn Of time_t .edu has been strictly enforced, so even 
though it was mostly handing out and pointing to free clues .edu never even 
crossed our mind.  We certainly weren't .gov, nor .mil, we aren't an 
international anything (didn't even have my passport back then).  At that 
time also it was big social gaffe in our crowd (the kind of people who've 
been USENIX members a while, I'm sure you're familiar with them, but see 
www.usenix.org if you need a refresher) to be a .net if you weren't among the 
bandwidth maintainers, and rather frowned on to be a .com if you weren't an 
Honest To God Commercial Entity.  Definitely pre-buzzword...  the tide has 
turned the other way around.  Regional domains, while available, aren't well 
suited for people that move, or endeavors that aren't related to a region.  So
.org was the right place for us to be.

Since in the time since that we've become consultants (well, sometimes
it's been him, sometimes me consulting) we can't be a non-profit very
reasonably, or at least, it would be even more work on our poor accountant.
Yet, much more than half the work I do is for non-profit organizations,
or completely volunteer work.  My work is closer to the spirit of nonprofit
effort the status exists to protect, than many officially nonprofit 
organizations, especially some that have become well known and had to 
introduce corporate levels of bureacracy to try and keep a handle on things.

I fully expect that the world will change, buzzwords will change, and the
kinds of work I do will tend to remain what they are.  I've never been the 
kind of person who fit pigeonholes very well.  My life bears a mix of low-end 
commercial service and non-profit volunteerism, as well as generally spending 
my time on computing, that is not possible to divide easily at all, much less
along the lines the internet presently follows.

Someone else has my matching .com... there's a "Starshine Software" he points
at that isn't either of us anyway... I've gotten my share of postmaster mail
over the years looking for other companies whose name includes the word 
"Starshine" and offered subhost space to a nonprofit group that asked about
it (they declined that offer, but didn't say what they did instead, so I 
couldn't improve their efforts by pointing to them, sigh).  Yet an entirely 
different group has my matching .net -- that used to be a really nice pagan 
site, years ago, but lately appears to be a bunch of domain scammers.  From
the point of view of "internet infrastructure" they probably feel quite
entitled.  My opinion of domain scamming isn't very polite, and I consider
any plans to jockey around the purposes of the original seven TLDs to be in 
the sumphole with them.

Anyways, my address and my sitename have been published monthly in the 
hotly-mirrored Linux Gazette since (pardon me while I check 
www.linuxgazette.com... ) issue 28, May 1998.   Beyond that, Jim Dennis, 
the world famous Answer Guy, has been listed there even longer.  Anybody 
who tries to take starshine.org after me is going to feel like a damn fool 
unless they know a LOT about Linux, just from catching the stray emails.

My subdomains are a mix of web-staging sites for the nonprofits and other
clients I work with.  One of them's a subhosted site, my local chapter for
an international non-profit.  I'm pretty sure my claim to .org is a good one
even though I'm not likely to be a nonprofit *myself* nor even to qualify
for one anytime soon.

Thanks to the kind of community I work with I know a lot of people who won't
fit in your "enforced .org" pigeonhole very well either.

Still, enough about me.  I'm sure that if you insist on this stupidity that
eventually someone would be annoyed enough to just wave a magic wand over
some paperwork of their own, and ta da! starshine.org would be "an exception".
Creating a design that requires exceptions regularly in order to handle the
real world is seriously flawed even at its inception.

"Enforcing .org" is really not a right answer at all, though.

There are thousands of nonprofits in the world.  There are many, many 
countries.  By far the lion's share of these non-profits are not computer
related.  For the smaller ones especially, they likely have local chapters or 
volunteer groups.  It is hard enough to get such volunteers anyway, and to
maintain their enthusiasm in fighting whatever good fight they are in - adding 
the work for them to add extra DNS heirarchy and add paperwork to their life 
about it when establishing their sites is really a Bad Idea, in brightly lit 
neon letters.  Consider please that most of these helpful organizations aren't 
about computers, they're about starving people, or defeating diseases or 
something like that.

I can't imagine that such a high minded nonprofit would take any pleasure in
knowing that they had evicted some previous owner "because we're a nonprofit 
and you're a mere home user".  If they do, they probably shouldn't enjoy the
camera's eye when the press takes a look at that attitude of theirs.

Perhaps you want to establish a new .non domain rather than breaking a TLD
that exists, so that .non can be enforced in the way you describe.  That way
such nonprofit organizations who would benefit by any enforcement, have an
entire realm of their own to sign up in, with its own clean slate.  Some
entity would have to volunteer the resources to host and maintain that and
manage such enforcement... how are non-computing related nonprofits going
to have any belief they can trust these people, anyway?

Politics, politics.  

There was no .geek nor .nerd domain when I established a website, and I refuse
to move just because you want to put an Information Stupor-hypeway through my 
neighborhood.  Take your urban renewal program somewhere else.
-- Heather Stern (star@starshine.org) is presently the Technical Editor for 
   the Linux Gazette, a monthly online magazine hosted at ssc.com, and deeply 
   involved in the Linux community of the Silicon Valley area.  She accepts 
   a limited number of consulting clients and enjoys her work immensely.

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