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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Folayan explains .ng domain name convention

Sunday Faloyan, VP, NIRA, CEO Skannet Ltd
The Vice President of the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA) Mr. Sunday Folayan, has explained domain name convention guiding the acceptance and otherwise of the organizations policies with regards to .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) domain name.

Speaking on ‘Domain Naming Conventions’ at the recently held Switchto.ng workshop in Lagos, he  said NiRA has stipulated compliance to adhere to by any registrant and registrars.

Folayan, who doubles as chief executive officer, Skannet Engineering Services Limited, described a domain name as being made up of several levels of domains with levels being separated by . (dot).

He cited for instance, ‘we.keep.you.sleepi.ng ‘ saying it is a domain name, hence, levels are read in reverse order, that is from right to left.

“.ng is the top level domain alias Top Level Domain (TLD), dot ‘sleepi’ is the second level domain alias Second Level Domain (SLD), dot ‘You’ is the third level domain (3LD); ‘Keep’ is the fourth level domain (4LD) and ‘We’ is the fifth level domain (5LD),” he explained.

Current NiRA Domain Name Policy, he noted, is on Version 1.0 and has been operated since May 5, 2008.

This, he said, outlines NiRA’s rules for the registration and use of domain names within the .ng domain and its sub-domains, even as NiRA domain name policy and other policies are available at the organization site.

According to him, NIRA reserves the right to disallow names in certain domains, therefore maintains the list of domains that must not be available for registration, otherwise such domain names could be withdrawn if already registered.

He cited an instance with ‘Offensive Names’ which he described as words determined by NiRA to be offensive to the Nigerian community; ‘Restricted Names’ Names that would give the wrong impression if used, such as Military and Government to name a few. As well as ‘Premium Names’, which he said are domains with generic words only, thus commanding premium value in terms of Naira and Kobo. Some of these premium domains he listed to include ‘cooki.ng and bi.ng’ among others.

Folayan said that the Nigerian second level domains (SLDs) comprised of .com.ng for commercial purposes and is open for registration; .edu.ng is for degree awarding institutions; .sch.ng is for non-degree awarding schools; .gov.ng is for governmental organizations; .mil.ng means it’s for Military and related purposes; .org.ng - Non-Gov Organizations and open; .net.ng – networks; .mobi.ng - mobiles and .name.ng for personal names and still open respective, while .premium.ng is by auction only.

NiRA, Folayan said does not allow certain characters and as such, does not currently operate Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), which allows domain names in the natural languages of the users. 

Just as he list some characters allowed by NIRA to consist of the 26 Unaccented Roman Characters; that is, from ‘A to Z’ both in small and capital letters respectively, in addition to the 10 Western digits from 0 to 9, coupled with (-) hyphen.

Character combinations, he said, must conform with domain names rules which states that it must be a maximum of 64 characters for now; not case sensitive like ‘AGe and AgE’ saying they are the same; while the first or last character of a domain name may not be a hyphen, there cannot be two hyphens in a name, even as domains cannot start with xn followed by --.

He underscored the fact that second level domains (2LD) domains could only be offered for sale via auction, whereas, some third level domains (3LD) domains could only be offered for sale via auction with an instance of ‘internet.com.ng’ so also that 3LD domains may not be a single character.

The NiRA vice president added that generic restrictions may apply for each SLD or 3LD they may also have restrictions related to these sub-domains; for example, the .edu.ng may have restrictions which are different from those for .gov.ng.

Domain names, Folayan advised, are more useful when they confirm to best practices, short and popular names are better than long and detailed names, maintaining that to register any 3LD domain within .gov.ng, State Government entities must register the full state name or the official abbreviation of the state name similar to that used in vehicle license plate registration.

“States are encouraged to make 4LD available to local governments and state government departments and agencies,” he suggested, adding that generic names are not allowed, citing an instance with instead of shipping.gov.ng it should be nsc.gov.ng. Just like the generic SLDs are not allowed on 3LDs, for instance, “you cannot register com.org.ng,  org.com.ng, mil.com.ng.”

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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