[Vegas on My Mind]

Why the dot-vegas launch is a ridiculous racket

No results: We were doing just fine with dot-com, thank you.

Now that the inane hype and local media boosterism for the new “dot-vegas” top level domain name is beginning to subside, maybe someone with some sense will listen to the truth: It’s a racket, a waste of money and a doomed concept that someday will make a mockery out of all those civic leaders posing around that goofy .VEGAS sign.

Seriously. It’s going to make the Las Vegas Monorail seem like a good idea.

For the uninitiated, all Internet addresses have what are called “top level domains,” or TLDs. The only ones anyone actually uses are dot-com, dot-org, dot-net and dot-info. That covers more than 63 percent of the world’s websites. Even ones you’ve heard of and maybe used—dot-gov, dot-edu or dot-mil—account collectively for less than 0.1 percent of web addresses. That’s the territory dot-vegas is and shall always be.

Here’s why: We’re set in our digital ways, and they work pretty darn well. The web has been a mass medium for nearly two decades now, and we know how to find what we seek. If we know a web address by heart, it’s because it’s simply a brand name plus dot-com. If we’re unsure—hey, it’s hard to spell!—we Google and our link appears in a blink.

Recent history proves it’s hard to break in new TLDs. Around 2002, ICANN, the governing body of the Internet, added dot-biz, dot-mobi and dot-info. I can’t think of a single website I’ve visited in the past five years that ends in any of those. Can you?

Nonetheless, the Internet is getting a massive transfusion of new “real estate” that almost nobody in the business world actually wanted. ICANN was implored by major trade groups around the world, as well as several U.S. senators, not to do this.

It didn’t work. Instead, ICANN is unleashing 300 new TLDs. Most are concept words like dot-church, dot-cooking and dot-horse; a few are geographic, including dot-vegas.

“This a very broad, exploding list of names,” said Dan Jaffe, vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, a group backed by Google, Time Inc. and Microsoft. “Is this really going to help anybody? Is someone going to wake up and say, ‘Oh, I gotta go to the dot-vegas site’?”

Uh, no. And that’s why this is a racket. The Dot-Vegas gang—aided and abetted by a technologically inept political class—have proclaimed this the newest, hippest thing on what they probably still call the Information Superhighway. Dot-Vegas Inc. CEO Jim Trevino predicts at least 300,000 dot-vegas registrations, a ridiculous figure. Andrew Allemann of DomainNameWire.Com set the number closer to 10,000 (though I suspect Allemann underestimates just how many suckers are out there).

Who will buy the dot-vegas names? Likely existing brands forced to protect themselves. Did Caesars Entertainment need or No. Will it increase either web traffic or business? No. But they’ll shell out $50 a year for those sites—for a little while, anyhow—solely to keep them out of the hands of, perhaps, an off-shore online casino site. Right now, those sites redirect users to Of course.

Dot-Vegas brass make big hay out of their efforts to work with copyright owners to prevent cybersquatters from snapping up well-known names. How, then, did and end up in the hands of retired Navy pilot Greg Maguire? Why is Martin Svanascini from Chicago asking me to name my price for Why did, as of last week, point to a site with porn links on it?

Former Mayor Oscar Goodman, who probably doesn’t know is owned by former restaurant manager James Milner, has parroted the notion that dot-vegas is great for local businesses. I wish I could see how.

The Dot-Vegas gods want you to think their crappy real estate is the next Fifth Avenue. That’s the free market. But make no mistake: It’s not Fifth Avenue. It’s Siberia.

The folks behind this joke certainly know better. Quick! Before they change it, type in It took me nowhere. A blank screen. Meanwhile, redirected me to ...

Why? Because the Dot-Vegas people are running a business, and they know how this Internet thing really works.

Tags: Opinion
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