The curious and lingering case of .dotafrica!

Whose fault is it?

From its’ recent public newsletter posted on its website, DCA saidPeople are talking: DCA is going to change the Continent’s name if it does not have .africa ! Don’t even think about it!

I also gather from some email listing recently that members posted their opinions and thoughts, including the following:

 “I think DCA has already given their clarification in response to UNIFORUM’s  push for media manipulation to its favor, which seem to continue . It is my understanding that many of the IDN TLDS were corrected by ICANN before publishing for similar errors as some registries have reported, why DCA’s application did not get similar treatment leaves it to certain imagination. “

Despite, ICANN has made a statement to fix such errors, who caused what error is not determined I suppose. Here is a DomainNameWire link that states the case:

The group is working on a process that could allow applicants to fix errors in their final applications. Officially:

“ICANN has received requests for changes to submitted applications. We take these requests very seriously and are working on developing guidelines for these changes.”  

the ICANN community spent alot of time coming up with guidelines , but one it didn’t think to include was a mechanism for fixing errors in applications

In that same original article covered by DomainNameWire,  they were asking if the error was made by ICANN or DCA?  Question is if error by DCA, was it a typo, or how did that come about? If errors is ICANN’s,  is it one of those ICANN system glitches or what?Certainly, DCA’s work and campaign has been known to ICANN for as many years.   It has even been an ICANN sponsor for a “.africa” gTLD for more than once.

So what really went wrong and obviously DCA’s OPPONENTS UNIFORUM and their supporters do not want to put the issue to rest and keep making statements on media in absolute negligence  to DCA’s clarification, as long as ICANN has not changed the status of its report, “UNIFORUM thinks DCA’s application is no longer a competition”, a representative of UNIFORUM, VIKA said in a recent group email.

But why should this be the only error in nearly 1900 applications?   This is what is curious.  Well as per the above DomainNameWire article, there were two other reported as typos. i.e .KerryLogisitics ,note the extra ‘i’ as well as VeriSign’s application for the Hebrew transliteration of .com’.  Then there are those IDN strings that are no longer an error such as the IDN TLDs, because ICANN cleaned it up before publishing.   Also there were others reportedly that had entirely a mismatch between the string and the entire content of the application, which is caused as a result of simply cutting and pasting the application without even giving proper due care to the validity of the string.

In the case of DCA, we heard from sources, the ICANN TAS template which is used to input the string, does not allow special characters such as a (. : ? > +) etc.; therefore, DCA simply placed “dotAfrica” as it is pronounced instead of “Africa” and system did not reject it the “dot”!    While this may not be a good public relations to accept for DCA as an error, ICANN is also not in a good spot.   For a $185K application fee, one would think the ICANN system would have included the “dot” as a special character or word to also be  rejected by the system, especially if ICANN did not want it as part of its output or believed a “dot” could change the meaning of an entire TLD.   DCA message on the other hand seem to be that we do not think  it is an error,  and if ICANN thinks so, then let them fix it as a string contention.

Sorry but I may agree with those who are telling me a basic system design would suggest either more stringent edit checks or an independent human review. That TAS system is responsible for almost half a billion dollars in fees. How about a maker/checker approach that is used in banking? By the looks of this there is a 1% to 2% error rate nowhere near the 99.999% we look for in critical systems.

Pardon for belaboring the point but most systems engineers would say the same – an output requirement precedes a systems design.  In the old saying garbage in garbage out!  In this case, the argument will be if ICANN thinks that the output should be avoiding the “dot” which in this case seem to give a TLD an entire identity, despite the whole industry writes and pronounces their  TLDs with a “dot:, then I would really call this a systems glitch and an ICANN problem!

It is not like it is a spelling error as reported on some others.  Additionally, one would wonder for a $185,000 application fee, ICANN would have confirmed with DCA exactly on what DCA’s intent was, just like the IDN strings.  Surely for that kind of money each application should have been subjected to a “real person” confirmation.  ICANN spent several weeks and presumably hundreds of person days trying to figure out who saw what.  Was it really too much to expect them to look for common errors or put more thought into system edit checks for problem words.

Maybe with the kind of propaganda put out by such industry ranters Kevin Murphy, “DCA does not have government support”  which was recently described by DCA’s rejoinder as a UNIFORUM sponsored post,  ICANN simply may have thought DCA was applying for a Brand Name – dotafrica.  How could it be a Brand, when the applied for gTLD discloses “geographic name” and DCA’s published proposal states it applied for a 6 character ASCII string?    Again ICANN knows DCA’s campaign,  unless the confirmation is also outsourced like the evaluations.   IS EVERYONE WITH ME?    It is not like one is buying a godaddy domain for 9USD, so one would think ICANN would have asked DCA before publishing.   

Finally, is the .dotafrica issue a systems error or a review error by ICANN, particularly when ICANN has reportedly requested for clarifications on the IDN strings on the same dotdot issues.  DCA may see this as reverse discrimination on an ASCII string, or even worst, it may simply make observers feel like ICANN is trying to find a loophole to get rid of its application, to stop  the prolonged pain & controversy over our lovely <.africa> continental name , as a non-contested string.  Or is it?  

Whatever the case is, if this is not taken care of soon, more trouble is on its way for all parties.  As the Barbarians at the gate, UNIFORUM is having a field day reporting a victory as the only .africa OFFICAL applicant.   In the mean time DCA seem to continue to put out the same message that it has applied for a geo name AFRICA.   The larger problem is – would  this make it difficult for DCA to move forward with any form of support, unless the record is officially corrected by ICANN, and who is responsible for that?   ICANN or DCA?   Ouch!  

Tell us what you think. reports for DomainNewsAfrica.