Why are .coop domains so expensive?


#1

It seems there are around £70 which seems like a lot when .org domains are about £16. Maybe @chris would know?

I don’t really know how the whole registration system works. Still trying to get my head around the arcane magic of DNS zone files :smile:


#2

You should ask @Graham and / or @shaun this question, I believe they are aware of the history of this…


#3

/me eagerly awaits awesome co-op history tale


#4

Hahahaha I like your spirit but lol it’s a funny question


#5

@shaun will know much more as he was closely involved in the creation of the .coop TLD. what I know from several years of fairly close involvement with it is that it was one of the first group of novel TLDs to be created. ICANN had no process for the creation of a new TLD at that stage, so it was a long and time consuming road, and incurred some very substantial legal costs, which were largely met, as far as I know, by the National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA) based in Washington DC. (You’ll note that the NCBA still holds an interest in the legal entity that runs .coop to this day). So, with the cost of creation of .coop running into the high hundreds of thousands of USD (I’d heard that it was over a million, but this figure was subsequently denied by someone who would know the facts), a decision needed to be taken as to how to pitch the price for a registration. There was a debate: go in low and aim for volume registrations, or pitch at a higher price and seek to recoup costs from a smaller constituency (and thereby seek to recover costs more quickly). The latter option won the day, and .coop launched at a high price (might have been $120 at launch). Some of the other TLDs created at around the same time, such as .aero were also significantly more expensive to register, $10 was the price for a .com domain at that time. And .co.uk (etc) were £2.50 a year with a 2 year minimum, so it was really quite pricey.

Many debates and discussions followed over the years as it became apparent (to some of us at least) that the price was stifling the take-up of the TLD. Stewardship of the TLD changed hands a number of times, but none of the decision-makers had the bottle (IMHO) to make any significant changes. At one stage I was putting forward a proposal to convert the whole thing into a registrant-owned cooperative, but as with other progressive/innovative suggestions for change that might help move the project forward nothing gained traction.

ICA eventually took control of it, and as part of the project to rebrand ICA with the now familiar Calverts-designed ‘coop’ I made the case that the .coop domain name had to be an implicit element of the brand strategy. I think I managed to convince Sion Whellens of the value of the proposition, and now ICA promotes the ‘co-op marque’ globally.

Clearly running a TLD has significant costs associated with it in terms of the tech infrastructure required to run the root servers etc., manage the contracts, and participate in all those ICANN meetings. Even so, I do still strongly believe that the price of .coop domains is a barrier to adoption, and had it been available for $10 we would now see hundreds of thousands of .coop domain names in use, if not more, which would bring in more revenue for the registry than the current arrangement.


#6

Good summary @Graham!


#7

I’ll not expand on Graham’s insights, but suffice to say from my recent experience - Gildedsplinters worked on .coop brand marketing for the last couple of year - the $ debate he outlines still continues. Anyway FYI I floated the question past .coop and reply (edited for brevity) below:

'… basically costs can vary - customers are free to shop around and find whatever retailer can sell it to them ‘best’; ie language, region, low cost, extra functions, extra services, services previously held etc.

So ,where one registrar can sell something very expensively, another can cut the price right down and it’s a case of finding a good deal!

And .coop is a ‘verified’ domain*. Any one can have a .org for $10 but only a valid cooperative can get a .coop - hence the price! The minimum price is set at a wholesale level by the Registry which is why you won’t find it much cheaper than around 60/70 quid per year…’

*(the time consuming process of checking if a coop is genuine or not so protecting the ‘value’ of both using a .coop TLD and, more widely, of being a cooperative)


#8

I agree with everything @Graham says.

I would emphasise that back in 2000 everyone was experimenting, including ICANN, and no-one had a clear idea of what a qualified TLD like .coop would be like - how many domains, what price. We didn’t want to set the price so high, but the costs were astronomical.

In 2019 I would have thought that halving the price would be about right. I think you could aim to more than double sales over time. A bigger cut might be too challenging. But this is armchair strategy on my part.


#9

Wow You all jumped in while I was on the way home!
Such a good question!
We had a chat about this earlier at GreenNet and thought the high cost would be due to the eligibility checking - most other TLDs don’t have that requirement …
… apart from .ngo (/.ong, etc) which is a similarly big cost (although https://pir.org/ Ongood will give you a free website and entry in a directory iirc)