SitePoint is fortunate to receive visitors from all over the world. However, the vast majority are from the US, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. As native English speakers, it’s easy to forget the billions of Russian, Chinese, Arabic and other computer users who do not speak the language. OS manufacturers make considerable efforts to internationalize their systems, yet entering a web address requires everyone to use the same 26-letter Latin alphabet for domain name suffixes such as .com, .org and .net.
All that will change on 16 November 2009. The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has agreed a proposal that allows governments to apply for a domain name suffix using their own language and character set. The proposal was unopposed by the 15 voting members and received a standing ovation at the summit in Seoul, South Korea.
ICANN CEO Rod Beckstorm stated:
This represents one small step for ICANN but one big step for half of mankind who use non-Latin scripts, such as those in Korea, China and the Arabic-speaking world as well as across Asia, Africa, and the rest of the world.
The Chinese government are expected to be one of the first applicants and ICANN expect the new addresses to be available in early 2010. Several rules will apply:
- Countries may only apply for one domain name suffix.
- The suffix must represent the name of the country or an abbreviation.
- Non-Latin versions of .com and .org will not be permitted yet, but ICANN is considering the implications further.
How long will it be before someone applies for a Klingon suffix?