An update on the short name reservation process

An update on the ENS short name reservation process

We’ve been pleased to see a good response to the launch of the ENS short name reservation process. So far we’ve received over 120 applications for consideration, many of them from well known and well established projects in the space.

We’ve been doing early triage of these applications, and identifying a number of different classes of applications. We wanted to circle back to the community with our results so far, and receive feedback from the community on our approach.

Applications We’ll Likely Approve

Straightforward Applications

The largest group of applications are those that are straightforward to approve - they follow all the guidelines listed here, and are well known projects or products. For example, Kyber is clearly the best owner of kyber.eth, and status.eth should belong to Status. We intend to approve these and other applications like them unless a better claimant for the same name comes along during the application period.

Special Exceptions

A second, smaller category of applications is those that are approved as exceptions. For example, everyone recognises ‘MEW’ as referring to My Ether Wallet, so we intend to approve their application for that name, despite the supporting domain, mew.dev, not being their main domain. Likewise, unless a better applicant for the name comes along, we’re inclined to approve hoppereth.org’s application for hopper.eth despite the domain being registered after the deadline.

Applications We’ll Likely Decline

Invalid Applications

A very few applications are outright invalid - for instance, because they do not have the required TXT record associated with their domain. These applications will be rejected.

Generic Names

We’ve had a number of applications for generic names such as loan.eth and earth.eth. In some cases - such as stake.fish requesting stake.eth - there’s a real project that’s identified by the combination of domain and TLD. In others, there’s no associated project uniquely identified by that name.

In both cases, we’re inclined to decline these applications and allow the name to go to auction, as there’s no single project with a strong claim to that name.

Non-Authoritative Applications

A number of applications have been for names that the applicant is clearly not responsible for. For example, the owner of nokia.link is clearly not Nokia. Likewise, eos.fish does not represent EOS, but rather a project by a different name that’s based on EOS. We’re inclined to decline these applications.

In a few cases where it’s not clear if the owner of the domain used in the application is the same as the major project by that name, we have asked them to upload the same TXT record to the better known domain, to prove their intention to register.

Names With no Associated Project

Some claims are for names with no associated project, or no web presence at all. For example, zowoz.com has no web presence, and ‘zowoz’ does not appear to identify any project in the Ethereum community. We’re inclined to decline these applications.

Applications We’re Still Determining How to Handle

Personal Names

A final category of applications is for names that represent a single person. We’re still considering how to handle these applications, and would welcome community input on this point. Although they fall outside the scope of the original process, there are cases where these names clearly identify a single individual in the Ethereum community, and if the name were to go to auction, they would be the only bidder besides squatters and others seeking to sell the name back to them.

In other cases, such as ‘Shane’ or ‘Virgil’, there are several people this could reasonably identify.

To complicate matters, assessing how ‘common’ a name is is a very subjective matter. Our own Makoto Inoue points out that ‘Inoue’ is one of the most common family names in Japan, but this fact is far from obvious to someone from another country.

We’d like to hear the community’s perspective on reserving names in this category.

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If no application is submitted before the short names become available will all the remaining names be on a first come first serve basis? I like coin.eth.

I think that uncontested applications for personal names that can clearly be tied back to an Ethereum community member should be granted.

I believe that genuine, duplicate applications for the same name by two members of the community should go to the initial applicant, all else being equal. For example, if Nick Johnson and Nick Dodson both applied, and Nick Dodson was first, I would grant it to him. Given the requirement of having previously owned a domain of the same name, as well as being genuinely active in the community, one clearly shows legitimate intent. Choosing someone who was not the first applicant, in this case, could be misconstrued as favoritism or an unfair application process.

Another way to go about it would be to limit the TLD that the previously-owned domain can be from. Maybe only allowing from one of the most popular TLDs would alleviate some of these potential cases.

The next stage, as outlined here is an auction for names that weren’t reserved, slated to start late August. After that, names will go to general availability.

Does the submitted kyber.com belong to kyber.network though ? Just because it forwards doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the project (see also here). Other than that, I think it’s a good approach in general.

https://www.google.com/search?q=virgil+ethereum

Looks unambiguous to me?

To add my thoughts to the discussion here, I don’t see why personal names are any different from other names.

To follow the argument “if we don’t allow personal names, we just subject well-known names to deal with squatters”: why should organizations have reprieve from squatters, but individuals not? (Note, I’m talking here only about unambiguous personal names… if the goal is, e.g., that Nokia should be able to have a chance to claim nokia.eth, then why shouldn’t someone with an already-established, unique name not be considered in the same light?)

ENS has two sides: resolution and registration. Excluding personal names from consideration in this reservation process sets dangerous precedent for asymmetry here, where the category of individuals (1 person) stands out from the categories of groups (n people) and of dapps (0 people). For resolution, ENS targets use cases for all three: everyone and everything should be able to resolve names! But for registration, why should it be more favorable that groups and dapps have access to name reservation?

As a counterpoint, there is the question: what about fairness to established personal identities that exceed 6 characters? Longer names are subject to squatters; why should individuals with shorter names get special treatment? Well, short names have been disallowed! Personally, I would have been happy to deal with the much-lower risk of squatters at ENS launch, like everyone else, when Ethereum was relatively less well-known.

Ultimately, though, I posit that allowing people to claim short unique personal names increases the utility of ENS and that preventing doing so decreases the utility. It hurts ENS’s usefulness for squatters to claim already-familiar identities, since that increases the potential for mistrust. Instead, by not excluding individuals from this process, it means that more people can use their existing identities to serve content via ENS and not just consume content via ENS.

(Just Ξ0.002 from this one biased individual who has a <7 letter handle. :slight_smile: )

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In cases like this we’ve been manually checking and asking the projects to upload the same TXT record to the better known domain.

One significant difference is that many more projects have unique names. When someone says “nokia”, you likely think of the mobile phone company, but “Joe” can refer to any one of thousands of people. If just one Joe applies for the name, should we grant it to him, even though we know there are many others who it could equally well identify?

Could we have a phase where names with multiple legitimate claimants are auctioned off in an auction that is limited to that set of people? Ultimately, the goal is to keep squatters out, and if you have two people (or companies) with a legitimate claim to some name then auctioning it between them seems like a reasonable course of action that would achieve that goal.

We considered that - but multiple auctions with different participants is complex, and we don’t really have the engineering resources to implement it. There would undoubtedly be disputes about who would be allowed to bid, too.

Fortunately, so far we haven’t had any duplicate claims for the same name, so it’s something of a nonissue.

Full disclosure: I’ve applied for names that I think have met various conditions of these categories; including one that is a personal name, and one that is a generic term (but still attached to a real world project), probably out of the scope of the tool, but might be nice to cross-reference and show other names the same address is claiming for (I made sure to use the same address for all my claims).

I think, on personal names, it makes sense to grant them if there is no contention, less for squatters and more for preventing impersonation.

In terms of anti-squatting, I know this is not possible (since many use contract wallets, which could themselves be made transferable), but just putting the thought out there: would it be fair (less unfair, maybe?) if the names were non-transferable, for let’s say, 10-20 years? It’s less useful to squat on a name you have to pay for, can use for legitimate purposes, but cannot sell. Again, I don’t think possible, but a starting point to think about…

I have no claim to my birth name Scott, but i am Scott. Scott ski goggles and Scott toilet paper also use my name. I long ago gave up trying to be the “Scott”, but i think i have a real shot here. As long as ski-Scott and tp-Scott don’t try to reserve it first, is it a first come first serve for Scott.eth against all others whether birth name, nick name or unrelated to anything Scott? Is that what Nick referred to as “general availability” above? Ironically scott.com is a dead site with a registration since 1994 by a Steve Scott. I am a Scott Stevenson, from USA. There is another Scott Stevenson doing some crypto/compsci stuff in Canada. Are we secondary to Steve Scott of scott.com? I am really just trying to figure out if the effort to try to get it is even worth it. I already have the .eth domains I really need, but would like so shorter ones too.

Same for my name. makoto.com does not seem to be used actively and I don’t have any domain name as makoto. So if I want makoto.eth, I will bid at short name auction. We only have a few hundreds claims on the reservation system because of this simple barrier to entry imho.

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The question is:

  • Would it be fair to other people named Scott or Makoto to reserve you the domains? I’d say no.
  • Would it substantially improve the ENS to make sure you get these domains? I’d say no again.
  • What would be the better solution to give these domains? I can’t say for sure, but an auction doesn’t look like such a bad idea.
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