The Dot Jobs Saga: 13 Questions Sent to .Jobs Registrar

Oct 22, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Thirteen questions have been put to Employ Media by the Internet’s addressing authority, which is in the process of trying to decide if it should reconsider its decision to broaden the eligible naming category for a .jobs designation.

Some of the questions are of the “what did you know and when did you know it” variety. A few are flat out hard to understand why they were even asked, or why the staff and board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers wouldn’t independently know the answer.

For example one of the first questions on the list asks: “At the time of the 5 August 2010 Board meeting, did Employ Media intend to allow registrations in the .JOBS sTLD from persons or entities not meeting the .JOBS Charter registration requirements?”

The oddity of that one seems obvious. Here’s another:

“Do you confirm that the amendments approved by the ICANN Board on 5 August 2010 do not change the Charter of the .JOBS sTLD? If not, please explain how you believe the .JOBS Charter was changed.”

This one seems like something the board should have known itself before the matter ever appeared on the Aug. 5 agenda. That’s when, during a meeting by telephone, the board voted 11-1 to approve the request by Employ Media to allow it to offer bulk and auction sales of .jobs domains with non-company names. (There were two abstentions.)

The matter is highly contentious, in part because .jobs was originally planned as an easy way for job seekers to find specific corporate career sites and an easy address for recruitment marketers to promote. So, when ICANN approved the creation of .jobs, it allowed only company names to be used in conjunction with the extension.

After a few years, only about 15,000 of those addresses were ever issued. That’s when the registrar — Employ Media — floated the idea of allowing other names to be used: specifically occupational, geographic, and combinations.

A plan to create tens of thousands of job boards was tested out last year, run by the DirectEmployers Association. The entire background of what happened and how SHRM came to be involved in approving the program can be found here.

Eventually the job board industry mobilized, launching a letter writing campaign during ICANN’s public comment period in July, which, by the organization’s rules, precedes a board action. However, in a staff report, the points raised in the more than 200 opposition letters were reduced to a few paragraphs. On Aug. 5, the ICANN board approved the expansion of the allowable names and Employ Media’s plan to offer them in bulk, with whatever was left offered at auction or, finally, on an individual basis.

Barely two weeks after the vote a .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition formed, petitioned for reconsideration, and in a singularly rare occurrence, got the Board Governance Committee to agree to consider whether to reconsider. (Got that?)

That brings us up to the present and the request by the Governance Committee to Employ Media for answers to the 13 questions. There’s no obvious precedence for this, since there doesn’t seem to be any previous reconsideration request that made it to this point. So it’s anyone’s guess whether the committee would have asked any questions if it hadn’t been prodded by the Coalition.

On Oct. 14th the group sent ICANN’s committee seven pages of questions it had prepared for Employ Media. The cover sheet says: “The Coalition believes that the answer to these questions strongly support our view that the .JOBS Phased Allocation Program cannot be implemented in compliance with the .JOBS Charter.”

None of those questions made it onto the list of 13 ICANN sent. Some bear a resemblance, but otherwise it appears ICANN crafted its own.

I emailed a request Thursday to Employ Media’s point man, Ray Fassett, and CEO Tom Embrescia asking if they had yet responded to ICANN, what they would say and what they thought of the questions.  Haven’t heard from either.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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