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The .ly domain space to be considered unsafe (benmetcalfe.com)
287 points by gmurphy on Oct 6, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 194 comments

While I'm as against Sharia law as the next privileged westerner/godless heathen, I found the complaint that the rules weren't in English really amusing.

Why should a country's national ccTLD rules be in English? It's a domain space for that country, not for making convenient short URLs for Americans to use on Twitter.

Why would a country run under Sharia law want to allow services like bit.ly and others to use their ccTLD to link to porn and other things they find offensive? Why is there an automatic assumption that ccTLD rules should conform to Western expectations?

The only explanation I can think of is that in the back of people's heads is the idea 'it's our internet and we're just letting you weird foreigners use it'. Apart from not being true any more, I wonder how deeply that sort of thinking affects other interactions online?

Or maybe I'm overthinking it all and this guy's just pissed off and ranting because he lost his domain.

I will only comment on your use of the term Sharia law. The term's widely misunderstood, especially after the events in NYC this summer.

Just so that you know, Sharia "law" is just six principles:

1. The right to the protection of life. 2. The right to the protection of family. 3. The right to the protection of education. 4. The right to the protection of religion. 5. The right to the protection of property (access to resources). 6. The right to the protection of human dignity.

That's it. At its base, eerily similar to the bill of rights. The term "shariah law" is a misnomer, because shariah is not law, but a set of principles.

Controversial laws like stoning people or requiring women to be totally covered aren't in the Sharia. Those are custom interpretations by certain sects. That's why say Islamic-based laws in Saudi Arabia are radically different from those in Egypt.

Just thought I'd share that. It really irked me this summer when everyone was throwing around arguments against "infecting the constitution with Sharia" even though no one actually knows what Sharia is.

What you say is true, but disingenuous. It is like saying that British common law is just adherence to the principle that judgments should be made in accordance with principles that were accepted in previous judgments, and it varies widely across different jurisdictions. This is true, but British common law means a lot more than just that.

The same is true of Sharia law. It has a lot of baggage. And it doesn't always read as a Westerner might naively like to read it. In particular when it comes to Sharia law, opposition tends to center on items 2 and 4 on your list.

On #2, Sharia law protects the family, but with different definitions and severity than Western society accepts. Consider the asymmetry between men and women for divorce. Consider the punishments for adultery. Both are widespread in Sharia law, and neither is palatable to Western audiences.

More problematic is item 4. It is not (as it is in the US constitution) the protection of freedom of religion. Instead it is the protection of the Islamic religion. (With limited protections for peoples of the book.) Thus we get anti-blasphemy rules, punishment for converting Muslims to another faith, etc. This is in direct conflict with core precepts of the US Constitution. This is not an accident of interpretation. It is a central feature of having a system of law whose purpose is to support a specific religion.

This is not an accident of interpretation.

It's much less clear than this. Highly recommend watching this show:


Is this at all representative of the way sharia exists in practice? Can you provide, say, 5 examples of Islamic countries practicing sharia according to this strict interpretation that aren't overwhelmed by the influence of religous and ethnic traditionalism? If not then aren't you just arguing semantics? If the way sharia is practiced conforms to a certain well delineated set of patterns and that differs from some ideal definition of sharia which is the correct definition?

I disagree. If in fact, that's what the original text says, then I don't think it's just semantics to avoid slamming the original text.

I think it's important to distinguish between a religion or ideal - say, Christianity, or democracy - and what people do under that name. If church X doesn't follow the clear teachings of Jesus, that doesn't reflect poorly on Jesus, but on church X. If nation Y has rigged elections, that doesn't reflect poorly on democracy, but on nation Y.

It is important to be able to ask theoretical questions like "is capitalism inherently flawed?" and separate them from "how is it being practised in this situation?" If capitalism + government meddling = failure, it's unfair to say that capitalism failed. Rather, we should say that capitalism wasn't practiced.

I think the poster is just asking for the same kind of logical distinction.

Sure, if one specific church is being heterodox, you can blame that on the church. And if it were one specific nation implementing shariah law as being all these nasty things, you could say it's just that nation. But what happens when _every_ nation that implements shariah law oppresses women, prohibits freedom of religion, and in general is a repressive society? 'Shariah' is a label. If all the nations that apply that label to their system have more or less the same repressive policies, it is not very helpful to say that none of them are correctly applying the label; the point is it's a label adopted by repressive societies.

Perhaps you should educate yourself about moderate islamic countries?

Which would those be? Even the most moderate islamic countries are still way behind modern countries on the status of women, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and other such democratic values.

Granted, many of them limit shariah law, such as in the case of Jordan, which limits it to "matters involving personal law such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody." But they still have it.

> Even the most moderate islamic countries are still way behind modern countries on the status of women, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and other such democratic values.

I wouldn't say countries like UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and many Mediterranean islamic countries are way behind. It also helps that Western countries are eroding mentioned freedoms and values themselves. See for example burqa ban in France. Now that's what I call a country without a freedom of religion.

The UAE has massive human rights issues regarding non-citizen employees. In particular, female domestic servants of foreign origin are likely to be abused. Kuwait bans women from working after 8 pm.

True, France has had some steps backwards lately, such as the expulsion of Roma. However, I think it's still reasonable to hold the middle eastern countries to a higher standard than they currently maintain. So I'm not sure what you mean by "it also helps that Western countries are eroding freedoms"; it helps who? what?

It helps to shorten the gap between "West" and "East" freedoms or lack thereof.

Anyway, I absolutely agree that Arab peninsula states still have some horrific human rights issues to deal with, especially when it comes to foreign and especially "third-world" immigrants.

But that brings us too far from the original discussion concerning Sharia law because that has nothing to do with immigrant rights, which they essentially don't have being treated as second-class at best or slaves at worst.

If you look at most of the Middle East countries, there are a few good examples of countries that practice Islamic (NOT Sharia ;)) law. Egypt, my home country, has a nice mix of Islamic law and British martial law. Jordan's similar. So is Turkey.

Keep in mind that there are four big schools of thought (and that's just in Sunni Islam). Saudi Arabia and the gulf conform to one of those, and it's traditionally more conservative.

I think you're misunderstanding what is meant by Sharia. It is not a strict set of rules. Because of this, it is necessarily influenced by ethnic traditionalism. Now if you're looking for western countries which have Sharia courts, the United Kingdom and India are two which come to mind which allow certain civil disputes to be resolved in Sharia courts.

For a Sharia court in the UK to have the power of law though the participants in the case all first have to agree to that though, otherwise they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

So it is only after you've voluntarily agreed to be bound that the court can proceed.

The UK also has Jewish courts.


I feel the need to fact-check this.

Wikipedia's explanation of Sharia is more complex than what you say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia. Perhaps you could share why you think Wikipedia is wrong? The article states:

"Sharia (Arabic شريعة Šarīʿa; [ʃaˈriːʕa], "way" or "path") is the sacred law of Islam. Muslims believe Sharia is derived from two primary Sources of Islamic law; namely, the divine revelations set forth in the Qur'an, and the sayings and example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh ("jurisprudence") interprets and extends the application of Sharia to questions not directly addressed in the primary sources by including secondary sources. These secondary sources usually include the consensus of the religious scholars embodied in ijma, and analogy from the Qur'an and Sunnah through qiyas. Shia jurists replace qiyas analogy with 'aql, or "reason"."

The article further explains that Sharia covers areas of life such as diet, dress code, sexuality, personal morality, and the punishments prescribed for crimes - the aspects of law in Islamic countries that Westerners view as harsh and sometimes barbaric. For example, punishing theft with hand amputation is part of Sharia. In five Islamic countries under Sharia law the crime of Sodomy is punishable by death.

"Sharia" is no more a specific set of laws than Anglo-Saxon "Common Law". But it is a certain way of creating and judging law based on Islamic religious tradition that is incompatible with a modern secular state.

So if I were to use the term "Sharia" to refer to a strict and expansive system of law based on the Muslim religion, I would be correct.

Sharia law is based on two things:

1. Things from the Qur'an 2. Things from the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet)


Modern Sharia law is based on three things:

1. Qur'an 2. Hadith 3. Fiqh (which is the interpretations)


That's the issue. The Fiqh part is very different from region to region and from sect to sect. Often, the really obscure laws that are brought up in arguments (take female genital mutilation for example) are often part of the Fiqh than the Sharia. That's also why, like I mentioned before, "Sharia" can be very different in Egypt compared to in Saudi Arabia.

"Perhaps you could share why you think Wikipedia is wrong? "

Sharia is a topic of highly emotional argument right now, with lots of bigotry, ignorance, and fear-mongering. That's enough reason to suspect Wikipedia might be wrong.

Wikipedia is terrible on anything like that. On things nobody much cares about, like the history of the Marvel villain MODOK, it's great.

There is such a big difference between the claim that Sharia means six very non-controversial universal values (which the original poster claims) and that Sharia is a system of law based on Islamic beliefs as refined and interpreted by Muslim holy men, that I believe we ought to be able to determine which statement is closer to the truth regardless of interfering emotion. I suspect the original poster is being disingenuous by portraying Sharia law as such a bland and harmless thing.

Actually, my experience is that Wikipedia is excellent on subjects like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology. It's generally uncontroversial topics with little interest among Wikipedia readers that have poor-quality articles; see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhus_coriaria.

As far as I can tell, there is a wide variety in people's interpretation of Sharia. In practice Sharia's introduction has been recently associated with very harsh punishments (amputation, stoning):


There are definitely lots of people who choose to view Sharia this way, and invariably this kind of interpretation seems to have prevailed in practical settings. So what makes your view of Sharia the One True Interpretation? Do you even have some references, from the relevant religious authorities, to the effect that these six principles you enumerate are all of Sharia and nothing else?

...when everyone was throwing around arguments against "infecting the constitution with Sharia" even though no one actually knows what Sharia is.

Sadly, quite a few of the people who are ignorant about what Sharia is are probably also ignorant about what is written in the US Constitution. We're equal opportunity ignorant here in the US. :(

Thanks for sharing this, I'll no longer use "Sharia" as a denigrating term, as I probably have in the past.

But that is a distinction without a relevant difference. The finer points between Saudi Arabian and Egyptian law are uninteresting the context of "based on Sharia and totally ridiculous laws." Whether or not a particular crime requires a stoning in Saudia Arabia or a beheading in Egypt is just not that relevant. It's like quibling about the phonetic spelling is sort of highfalutin and irrelevant as well.

The problem, as it is with any religion, is in the way men interpret the scripture. For example, Biblical law, on which all western legal systems are based, is similarly barbaric. The laws of all western societies come from the law of Moses, which is simply the ten commandments. The difference between modern interpretations of the law and old testament interpretations is that in Moses' time, the penalty for breaking any of the ten commandments was death, pure and simple. Coveted your neighbors posessions? Death. Coveted your neighbors wife? Death. Prayed to an idol of some other god? Death.

In most western societies our legal system has evolved to the point where we recognize that the punishment should fit the crime. The problem, as I see it, is that most modern muslim societies haven't progressed to this point yet. They still practice barbaric customs such as cutting the hands off of thieves, or public stonings.

As a whole, humanity needs to denounce all barbaric punishments and legal systems, regardless of origin. The thing that is so ironic to me is that some of the same religious conservatives in the US that are speaking out against Sharia law, if you ask them, will tell you they want the US to go to a biblical law system. They are pretty much one and the same at that level.

I agree with most of your points, minus the phrase "most modern Muslim societies haven't progressed to this point".

Yes, there's a fair share of the problems, but I can honestly just think of a few (3 or less) that truly practice the old barbaric stuff. Most, even though have other problems, have at least progressed away from that.

Your point is well taken. Perhaps I should say "some modern Muslim societies." I should take care not to exaggerate this.

"Coveted your neighbors posessions? Death."

That's not true. You really shouldn't just make things up to support an argument.

> 'it's our internet and we're just letting you weird foreigners use it'

No, he's warning others that because Libya control this particular TLD, and police it using a set of laws that aren't available in English, it's to be considered unsafe for those who do not read Arabic.

Additionally, it is even unsafe for Americans who do read Arabic, because if the site has user generated content, and one of the users submits content which is against the Islamic rules, they may use it as an excuse to seize the valuable domain.

I don't think this is about 'seizing the valuable domain', or the first one they'd've done was bit.ly.

I strongly doubt that this sort of action by NIC.ly is about money, it's about them - probably after having received political pressure - wanting to enforce their local moral/ethical standards on their ccTLD domains, particularly those held by people from outside Libya.

If they go after the highest profile sites, they call attention to themselves and risk a backlash. Reclaiming from the bottom up establishes a precedent, and allows NIC.ly to own domains before they become too popular to grab.

The moral/ethical stance is a complete pretext. If Libya was really worried about morality, they'd do something about their atrocious human rights record.

That's a very western view. As far as they're concerned, both shutting down the "adult" shortener and their human rights record are both examples of their high moral purity. Their idea of moral behaviour and yours differ, is all.

Except, of course, your idea of morality and their idea of morality is very different.

The assumption that your morality is the only one that matters pretty much reinforces the point I was trying to make with my original comment.

In any event, NIC.ly can take back any domains it wants to. You're playing under NIC.ly's rules, and if they change their rules that's their business.

Who do you think they fear a backlash from? If they change their rules to prohibit all non-Libyan registrants, they can reclaim any domains they like. I sincerely doubt that the Libyan government and NIC.ly really care what people moan about on Twitter and tech blogs.

What do you think they're planning to do with these 'valuable' domains? Nothing, because they actually have absolutely no value to anyone who hasn't already established their branding around it.

All these guys want to do is reclaim their country's TLD for their country and to exclude things that offend their local values.

And they're entirely entitled to do that.

In terms of the domain business, of course it's their ball and they can take it home if they choose, and you're probably right that it will end up being a non-issue. But I think it's possible to distinguish between 1) the practices of a perfectly valid moral system based on Islamic law, and 2) the actions of a totalitarian regime intent on building and keeping power for itself at the expense of other nations and its own people.

And what kind of backlash would that be ?

I imagine they're more pissed of from the US repeatedly dropping bombs on them than .... what 4chan DDoSing NIC.ly ?

(I'm the [former?] owner of vb.ly and that's my blog post linked above)

I found the complaint that the rules weren't in English really amusing. Why should a country's national ccTLD rules be in English? It's a domain space for that country, not for making convenient short URLs for Americans to use on Twitter.

So I'm not American, so this isn't about imperialist America wanting everything to be in English.

The issue is the Libyans WANT international folks to buy their domains - they have all of the site in English, English-speaking pre- and post-sales support and even the domains themselves are sold in US$.

The issue I'm suggesting is that if you are going to put regulations up for the use of the domain that include needing to be in compliance with Libyan Law, it's quite unhelpful not to provide ANY resources or links to where I can read Libyan Law in English (ie the same language the website is selling the domain in).

As it happens I can't find any online resource for explaining to me the gist of Libyan Law in English.

Why would a country run under Sharia law want to allow services like bit.ly and others to use their ccTLD to link to porn and other things they find offensive?

Well with that chain of thinking then bit.ly, and everyone who uses it, should be very worried. Thus I hardly think this is a "rant" as you later describe my post!

It's our internet and we're just letting you weird foreigners use it'.

That's actually your somewhat judgmental opinion. Like I said, I'm not American so this "weird foreigners" remark is off-base.

Apart from the one mention of Americans using Twitter, I deliberately made a point of using 'Western'.

Also, the kind of xenophobia, intentional or not (note that I heavily implied it was not the result of conscious thought), that leads to the 'weird foreigners' attitude is in no way unique to America. I'd imagine there's just as much of it in London as there is in Edinburgh as there is in San Francisco.

Oh, and yes, bit.ly should be worried. They should've taken this into account when planning their business and doing risk assessment.

it's quite unhelpful not to provide ANY resources or links to where I can read Libyan Law in English

Even if they could give you their entire body of law (including court decisions!), there'd be sure to be translation errors, or laws which you can't understand without cultural context. Then they'd have people complaining about getting misled. The answer is to consult a Libyan lawyer.

> While I'm as against Sharia law as the next privileged westerner/godless heathen, I found the complaint that the rules weren't in English really amusing.

Agreed, it's their privilege to put the rules up in just their home country language. After all, if you're a foreign entity you will have to abid by the local customs, and part of that is the language.

What's more stinging about this case is that it seems to me that the 'rule change' to limit two letter domains to 'locals only' is arbitrary and was created with the specific idea in mind to recover this domain.

Another red flag for me is that there is apparently plenty of adult content on .ly domains: (NSFW)


So in all I think he has a point, but the real lesson here is to simply not bother with such domains and register them in a place where you have a fair expectation of respect for your rights and where you can actually read and understand the rules.

If some entity would try to take ww.com away from me you can be assured I'd put up a fight and given that it would be in a jurisdiction that has a legal system that seems to work (for the most part) I'd be fairly confident about the outcome.

If it had been a .ly domain I wouldn't have spent $.10 on it.

Agreed, it's their privilege to put the rules up in just their home country language. After all, if you're a foreign entity you will have to abid by the local customs, and part of that is the language.

Yeah but as I said above, the process for buying the domain is VERY intentionally internationalized - everything is in English, you pay in US$ not local currency, etc.

I would agree with you if I had gone in there and essentially bought a domain that was only really intended for local use (some ccTLDs are like that).

But when they WANT international sales and are encouraging it, it doesn't seem right not to ensure that international customers can discover what Libyan Law says if the regulations for these same domains depend on it.

> take ww.com away from me .... I'd be fairly confident about the outcome.

Unless of course you were a foreigner, especially an Libyan one then the outcome might not be so confidence inspiring.

It's not just people from the US who read English, you know. Here in Europe, you often find people from two different non-English speaking countries conversing in English because it's what they have in common.

I think it's ultimately a bit of a caveat emptor situation though: if they're not going to publish their rules in English, it means you're likely to get screwed.

Which is to be expected from a dictatorship run by a guy who dresses like the Beatles on the cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts club band.

For the record: I'm not American, and while I don't self-identify as 'European', Scotland/the UK is considered part of Europe.

I know that it's a lingua franca, and that there is a certain expectation that important information online will be in English - but even as someone who only speaks/reads English I think that's an unfair and unreasonable expectation.

Regardless of country, if you can't read and understand the rules/signage, you'd better have a 'native guide' or you're going to do something wrong and not understand how to put things right. That's as true for Libya/.ly as it is for Germany/.de or China/.cn.

So sum it up: If you don't know a rule, it still applies to you. If you register a domain in Libya you have to play by their rules and it is your responsibility to try and understand them.

And they reserve the right to make up more rules on the go.

I think that's the most important bit here, even if you understood the rules and had them translated and you abided (sp?) religiously (in this case that is to be taken literally it seems) by them, you could still lose your domain.

So building on a .ly is building on quicksand, and likely that goes for a whole bunch of other tlds.

The concept of strict liability comes to mind.

> That's as true for Libya/.ly as it is for Germany/.de or China/.cn.

I think that you're a lot less likely to run into 'oddities' in Germany than you are in China or Libya.

I think you're more likely to run into rules printed in English in Germany, but that aside every country has their quirks. It really wasn't that long ago that Germany and France were having a go at Yahoo! over Nazi imagery that was hosted on their services, or for sale on Yahoo! Auctions.

60+ years after the end of the war, it might not be immediately obvious, especially to an American used to 'first amendment rights', that your web page with screenshots from Wolfenstein 3D is possibly illegal.

And that's just an 'oddity' that I, someone who has never even been to Germany, know about.

Another "oddity"- Germany also has/had strict laws about using foreign academic credentials, that have tripped up visiting academics: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,540459,00...

Think again; German rules for these things are different from UK/US rules (and other European nations) in several significant ways.

Particularly in relation to their data protection rules (for example).

Sure, rules differ, but someplace like Germany, you can be pretty confident that things will go through some kind of due process that can be navigated. In places like Libya, I would not really bet a lot of money on that.

Well, maybe.

But you're also running a huge risk because if they find you in violation the fines start to get nasty. We had a client in the UK that was providing hit/redirect statistics, including full IP addresses, to German clients. Under the rules that is illegal - they were fined in the region of millions of euros for it.

Germany's privacy laws are known and probably available in multiple languages. The concern here is that you might not know the law either because you can't read it, or it only exists when the government wants it to.

> it only exists when the government wants it to

every law is applied like that

Also, FWIW, as someone who recently registered a >3 character .ly domain, the minimum-length restriction on foreign-owned domains is plastered everywhere, and in English. That kind of restriction is something you just have to keep up-to-date on if you own a ccTLD domain, in my opinion.

I must say that Lybian law != sharia.

I know the article jumped from one to the other but it is not so simple.

Ugh, except the Terms ARE in English. They took me less than 15 seconds to find: http://www.libyanspider.com/services/lydomains/terms.php

It seems like a fantastic business opportunity for someone inside the country to "represent" the domain owners, and to deal with all the legality, technicality and resolve any conflicts that arise.

Surely a service like that would have to charge an absolute fortune in order to actually provide that level of support?

Is .ly really such a hot internet property that it's worth all that? It's trendy right now, but that won't last.

it's sad to see someone passively accept such insane religious laws as totally normal and defensible.

Agreed on general point, however the sad truth is that Internet is soon to become Chinese (with their ipv6 progress and economic status), so we better be ready to translate .com rules into chinese to be good citizens ;)

...and everything was going to become Japanese in the 80's. Funny that.

Sounds like you've been listening to too much Glenn Beck.

No, I'm listening to too much Jon Stewart in fact, but it has nothing to do with where the things are headed. Read up on CNGI if really interested.

And to add to all of that: If you register a local version of any domain, be it .ly or anything else make sure that you understand that domains registered as such are subject to both local laws and the whims of the TLD authority.

This is one of the reasons I've always stuck to .com, .net and .org, just registering a .nl domain for example requires me to jump through all kinds of hoops, and is more expensive to boot.

If you're registering a cutesy domain name because it worked for del.icio.us please note that they eventually switched to the whole word. If you're doing it because 'there are no good names available' then you need to get a bit more inspiration somewhere, I've found it very easy to come up with domain names up to last week, I can't imagine the situation has changed much since then.

+1. One of my previous companies had a .jo domain (Jordan). One day some Jordanian internet agency had a major outage, and the entire .jo root DNS went offline. We had a 24 hour outage we were completely powerless to resolve. (Maybe we could have dived into the non-authoritative DNS servers and set really long TTLs or something.)

I tried calling up the Jordanian firm that sells cutesy domain puns to Western companies, and after half an hour listening to hold music on an international line, I was told that nobody could talk to me because it was a holiday, and they would look into it tomorrow.

Couldn't agree more. If the .com is not available DON'T DO IT!

I heard about http://wordoid.com/ here on HN -- it's a wonderful little webapp that lets you generate domain names that "sound natural" in a select list of languages and that (optionally) contain specific words.

In the "more options" you can filter out domains where both .com and .net are unavailable (it would be better to just filter unavailable .coms but it still saves a lot of time).

I think that this advice only applies to commercial sites. I have several personal domains such as Richard.sDoma.in and Richard.sMyNa.me which are far superior to any .com domain name.

Personal users are only just starting to get into having a personal URL to hosting their own id and blog etc. and with over 2 billion internet users and only around 140million registered domains, I think attitudes will change quickly. At least for the personal user.

Despite it being shorter, it seems more awkward to type and sometimes seems more prone to error. Not to mention how it might affect your standing with search engines.

Remember when http://delicious.com was http://del.icio.us When I first saw the product, I thought the name was "icio".

Couldn't agree more. I found it awkward to type—I could never remember what part of the word 'delicious' was the domain. deli.cio.us? de.licio.us?

This is why people just go to Google and type in the domain they want. If you're off by a character or two you still get to the site without a 404.

for what it's worth, delicious was del.icio.us for 4 years and only became delicious.com 2 years after yahoo bought the site for many millions of dollars.

I totally disagree, based on my experience of using semantici.st for my blog and email.

Especially for personal domains, you're going to want to tell them to people. 'Just email me, my address is whatever at richard dot s d o m a dot in.'

It's a huge chore and confuses people. These things are fine when written down, but become unworkable when you decide to go outside and interact with people. (And I don't mean that in a snarky sense - that's exactly the experience I had. It was fine while I was being reclusive and hiding in my study, but when I realised I needed to interact with other living humans outside, it's a liability.)

Totally disagree! I own a short .biz domain (erica.biz) and have had people mis-speak it when introducing me as "ericabiz.com"...so much so that I put in a backorder on ericabiz.com and when the previous registrant finally let it drop this year, I snagged it and 301'ed it to erica.biz.

I still love erica.biz and have no intentions of switching over to a .com, but there's no question that people assume you have a .com.

Search engines, however, don't care--my site happily gets tens of thousands of visitors per month from Google et.al. and the site ranks well for some very high-volume keywords.

a lot of people see .biz as a really spammy-sounding tld. i wouldn't advise any company to use it as their primary domain name.

I had one of the first .biz domains in 2001 and used it to run a 7-figure business. Back then, it was far less accepted than it is now. My blog is doing fine, too (and I get tons of compliments on the domain name!)

My point is, it sure didn't stop my company from getting hundreds of happy customers, some of whom paid us more than $10,000 per month.

What makes .com the best domain is CTRL+Enter: .com is the default TLD; it's like having no TLD at all.

All other TLDs, including .net, .org, .yourOwnCountry, .someExoticCountry are bad because they have to be mentioned.

> registering a .nl domain for example requires me to jump through all kinds of hoops, and is more expensive to boot

This is quite interesting, because in Germany we have the exact opposite. Here, .de domains are preferable to .com/.net/.org, because .de domains are cheaper, registered more quickly with less bureaucracy and provide better data privacy for the domain holder.

In nl the TLD admin is called SIDN, which officially stands for Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland, but the situation was/is so bad that they got the nickname Stichting Internet Dominatie Nederland which stands for something entirely different.

How it can be 'more quickly' then typing in a name in a form and clicking a mouse is a mystery to me, what do you mean by that?

'more quickly' probably means that german domain registrators can directly register .de domain (and send you an invoice for it, not bill your credit card), while they use some middle-man for generic TLDs. This can cause various unexpected problems.

I own both a German .de as well as a .nl from the Netherlands and the hoops I had to jump to get the German domain was insane while the .nl took the same effort as registering a standard .com for me.

What "hoops" are you talking about? The domain holder doesn't even have to specify an email address or telephone number (in contrast to .com), and the domains are usually registered within less than a minute.

Possibly. I'm not sure if I have more trust in Verisign (which was willing to put wildcard records into .com TLD (a long time ago, yes, but…)) or the local cz.NIC, as an association of czech ISPs and registrars with open policies and membership.

Verisign is a complete pain in the butt, a company that should have been taken to the cleaners long ago. But I don't deal with them directly (though they keep trying) but through my registrar, like most people.

Verisign once upon a time actually was a half decent company but then they got greedy and started screwing people over.

Verisign once upon a time actually was a half decent company

When was that? Network Solutions never gave good value. When NSF privatized domain registration in 1993, they paid NSI $6M to run it for two years; it couldn't've cost anywhere near that much. They were supposed to set up a more efficient ordering system (developing it was part of the $6M deal), but didn't. They couldn't be held to the terms of the deal, though, because the NSF had set it up as a cooperative agreement, rather than a contract, so that they could evade government procurement rules.

Here's how bad their early service was. In 1996, I was considering giving my dad ourlastname.com for Christmas. I emailed an ISP local to him, to ask if they could host the domain for him. I then decided it was a bad idea (giving somebody something that takes work); but, before I contacted them again, I got a bill from Network Solutions for the domain name. (It was misspelled, too, but that was probably the ISP's fault.) I told NSI it was a mistake, that I hadn't authorized it, but they told me I couldn't cancel the registration; only the ISP could do so. The argument that person A should not be able to incur charges for person B didn't cut any ice.

I think what really happened here is that someone at the Libyan domain authority decided they wanted the name and made up a story in order to seize it. I've heard of other cases of .ly names being confiscated, and for this reason we advise YC startups not to depend on them.

Yes, this is what I think happened too (I'm the original owner of vb.ly and that's my blog post linked above)

EDIT: and therefore I do feel Bit.ly need to be worried - perhaps they'll be able to do a deal rather than have their domain removed but clearly something is stirring here thus ".ly domain space to be considered unsafe".

Alternative explanation:


"Violet Blue is an adult site".

"Violet Blue is an adult site".

Well 'Violet Blue' is my girlfriend, she's not a website :P

Do you mean "vb.ly"? It certainly was not an adult site - it was a url shortener. Have you not seen the grabs of the site floating around in media?

> Well 'Violet Blue' is my girlfriend,

I guess that may have been a little predictable from TFA, but I'm regularly surprised by the folks who crop up at HN. I've been reading both your and VB's work for years, it is a funny coincidence to discover there is an relationship between you.

Well, your girlfriend is obviously an adult! Case closed! ;-)

More seriously, she does seem to be rather, er, focused on the topic of sex... Which is great, but I can see why they would object, if sex-related things are banned in Lybia.

(lol, yes she is an adult!)

to your main point: Well that's kind the issue isn't it? Yes Violet is 'focused on the topic of sex' she's a leading author in the field (30+ books on Amazon), appears on Oprah show about the topic, lectures at universities, etc.

But if you are right, isn't that too far if a domain authority removes someone's domain because the line of work and academic research they are in? Like I said, the site itself was hardly adult, even if Violet's own life, work and research is against their laws (somehow, perhaps).

>even if Violet's own life, work and research is against their laws (somehow, perhaps).

Under crazy interpretations of Sharia law, Violet probably would have been stoned by now.

It would definitely be too far in the UK or the US. Apparently it's not in Libya.

A screenshot I saw of the main vb.ly page had a picture with enough flesh that it itself was probably illegal under Libya law.

Yes, and that's the reason given for this domain name being reclaimed. Drinking alcohol and women showing bare arms are both illegal under Sharia law, and the front page showed Violet Blue drinking beer and showing bare arms. It's difficult for many foreigners to know exactly what is and isn't legal under Sharia law, so it's difficult to know if a domain would be ok or not.

However nic.ly are now also warning they don't allow ownership of short .ly domains by foreigners, only Libyan nationals. This sounds to me like they want more money or an excuse to take down domains they simply don't like, but is a real problem if they ever decided they want in on the bit.ly action.

The vb.ly site owners keep claiming that the content may be adult but that the domain name isn't. This is a weak argument in my mind, and I believe there's a precedent of domain names registered exclusively for the act of malware propagation being taken down.

Sharia law doesn't necessarily enter into it.

You can't sell dildos and vibrators in Texas, and it's not because of Sharia law.

Hindu activists in India made death threats and stormed theaters because of a film about a lesbian relationship.

Sharia law is not the only reason for repressive attitudes toward sex.

I mean, really. They're, what, 30-40 years behind the cultural norms of the US, in this case? You don't really need to pin that on Sharia, when it's far more likely that it's just cultural.

It wasn't that long ago in the US that nothing was open on Sundays.

> They're, what, 30-40 years behind the cultural norms of the US, in this case?

And the us is another 10 to 20 years behind some other parts of the world in this respect.

> You don't really need to pin that on Sharia, when it's far more likely that it's just cultural. (emph. added)

Because cultural reasons are completely separate from religion? Religion is the only reason people like to tell others what they can and can’t do in private, especially in a democracy like Texas, where it shouldn’t be considered Constitutional to outlaw "dildos and vibrators."

A agree, but there's a tendency among some these days to tout the boogeyman of sharia law. And there's an implication that there's something alien about Libya, that being restrictive of sexual matter is somehow unique to sharia law, that without sharia law Libya would be just like the US, and that Christians wouldn't do anything similar.

Which is just nonsense. Conservatives are conservative. Libya did this thing, and John Ashcroft covered up a statue's tit.

Bringing sharia into it is just buying into the latest thing pants-wetting wingnuts are using to scare themselves.

Maybe I’m foolish, but I think that denying the involvement of sharia law buys us nothing, but recognizing similarities with other conservative censorship tendencies (e.g. in Christendom) — as you have — can be a enlightening.

More relevantly than Sharia, here's the actual text of Libya's anti-pornography/prostitution law (in Arabic), Law No. 56 of 1970 "On the Protection of Public Morals": http://www.aladel.gov.ly/main/modules/sections/item.php?item...

Nothing in there about the Intertubes, of course, and it's quite vague about exactly what constitutes pornography, but basically, you need a license from the Ministry of the Interior or the Ministry of Local Government, and if you violate it they can throw you in jail for three to six years and fine you.

Does this not apply to all ccTLDs though? My understanding was that the majority of ccTLDs are controlled in a way that they are able to easily "reclaim" any domain they want at any time without breaking any "rules"...

I took a quick look at the ToS for my .ch domain (Switzerland), and it seems sane and protective.

For a .ch, you're at the mercy of the Swiss court system. Sounds OK to me.

Yeah I'm not sure how keen bit.ly would be to transfer over to that TLD.

Each ccTLD is delegated to a competent operator within the country it is designated. In almost all cases (except some historic ones) this is to an entity with approval of the national government of the country. They in turn set their own regulations on domain eligibility criteria, pricing and so forth.

So when you buy a .ME domain, you are subject to the relevant law and regulation of Montenegro, for .CO in Colombia, for .LY in Libya and so forth. If those countries elect to allow registrations outside their borders, that is their choice, but there is no external regulation on how they do that. They are accountable internally to the local Internet community of the country, and the local laws.

ICANN, on the other hand, is responsible for regulating many aspects for generic top-level domains (currently TLDs with 3 or more characters, such as .COM, .NET, .INFO).

Same for Nunames, taking back attractive .nu-domains ten year after registration. ICANN should really act on this.

any evidence?

I have evidence as this is essentially what happened to us. We purchased .ly variant of our domain name through an authorized Libyan registrar about 10 months ago. It was seized back without explanation a few days later. When I contacted the registrar I was told that the domain was available for "four figures" through domains.ly (an aftermarket .ly reseller service that is operated by the same authorized registrar we used to purchase the domain initially). The domain wasn't critical, so we didn't pursue it any further.

So if someone posts a cartoon picture of muhammad, and shortens it through bit.ly, will Libya pull the domain, and in the process break millions of other shortened URLs?


The point here is not if they will, the point is that they can, and that that's why it is silly to even start using a domain like that.

You don't put your business' fate in the hands of some third world countries legislation/semi governments whims.

Culture clash... looking at the sites screenshot here: http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2010/10/official-vb-... (NSFW) I can see how under strict Islamic law that pic would be construed as "obscene, offensive and illegal".

I have... minimal sympathy with these people - a lot of the fault lies with themselves for not understanding the rules, morals and society of the country they were buying from.

I don't think that this generally makes .ly domains any more "unsafe".

(on the other hand; if this is an example of Libya deliberately creating rules to seize domains that is another matter, but at least in this case the complaint seems "legitimate" so we may have to wait and see)

Excellent point. It shouldn't be news to anyone that Libya isn't a free western democracy.

I had thought about registering a .ly domain for a webapp, and the thing that stopped me was do I really want to have a domain associated with Libya? And that was before I asked myself how bad the dispute resolution process would be.

agreed on the culture clash, however, there is something that is a little odd about this story in general. vb.ly launched in aug 2009 with the very overt subtag: "The Internet’s First & Only Sex-Positive URL Shortener"

Why did it take 13 months for libya to care enough to take it down?

Here is the post on it's launch (possibly nsfw in libya?): http://laughingsquid.com/vb-ly-the-internets-first-only-sex-... (NSFW??)

Indeed. On the other hand why would they spot it?

Non-alarmist explanation; they could have received a complaint (which, lets face it, is how such things usually works in the US too)

It does make it a little more interesting though, certainly :)

That link is NSFW.

Just to add some more amusement: Why the hell would that be not safe for work?

It's hard to state my question without ending up being dismissed as a troll, but I'm deeply amused by different viewpoints related to sex between western cultures. If I take a karma hit for that, so be it.

Anecdote: During the football (yeah, or soccer..) worldcup in Germany images were all over the internet that showed a brochure, which was rumored to be issued by the USA's department of foreign affairs for tourists joining the event. One interesting "fact" about the german culture mentioned in there was ,that violence (on tv, online, etc) might be far less accepted over here and might be felt offensive, while nudity/references to sex might offend the traveller.

I never found out if these things were real, but comments like these remind me of some interesting differences in cultures between states that otherwise often end up being regarded similar in morale and grouped as "western countries".

It's not safe for work because plenty of people reading HN do so from their work during breaks and if they happened to be showing a page which has full-frontal nudity on it, even by accident during work hours they could get fired for that.

Your - or mine - morals don't enter in to it, it's just a fact of life. So it's common courtesy to label links that are not safe for work as such.

It's no trouble at all and if it helps keep the Hacker News crowd employed then I think that's a good thing to strive for.

Oh well - sure. I didn't want to criticize (sp?) the habit at all. Nor did I want to mock anyone's morale or ask for the removal of NSFW tags.

What you just described is just - in my little world - a tiny, little version of the original problem discussed in the thread.

For a part of the world the service vb.ly was not safe for X (work, family, whatever).

For a part of the world (as explained by you) the blog entry and its sexual references/ads/etc are not safe for work.

I wanted to point out the parallels, which seem (mildly) funny to me.

I visited the link at work and I'm sure nobody would ever complain, let alone _think_ about bad consequences for me. Not that I imply that it should be that way or that this is in any way superior to different positions or morale standpoints. It is just - different.

NSFW is in that regard a kind of a lowest common denominator (sp?), tagged on links with good intentions for sure. But using the lowest common point means also that we put a label on something that might be excessive/overly protective to others. I guess I cannot explain my feeling about these similarities in judgement, inparticular around sex/nudity/pornography, any better, sorry.

Short version: I don't question the "NSFW". I want to remind the readers that the reasons why this is necessary in the first place are an interesting thought in light of this discussion.

There is, I think, an important distinction, now that you have raised the point.

In that the application of Sharia law makes a moral judgement on the content - censoring it for the promotion of, in their eyes, illegal content.

In a work environment many things are not appropriate; even in the most liberal of societies pornography is much more of a private thing, enjoyed by smaller groups of people rather than being shared with the world at large. There are also other issues; like, for example, that pornography is connected with sexual excitement and sexual acts - all of which are also socially inappropriate in most workplaces (and public). So rather than a moral judgement it is a practical limitation designed to avoid awkwardness, or offence or distraction.

That link, in particular, is a marginal case, where the pornography is incidental to the reason for being on the page. But within a corporate structure that doesn't matter.

For what it's worth, no one will blink an eyelid where I work either.

In this particular case the NSFW status is not even remotely up for discussion.

The American attitudes about what's safe for work are mostly shaped by sexual harassment law. It's not that our employers believe Porn Is Evil; it's that they fear being sued. It's not even that the courts believe Porn Is Evil; it's that showing an employee porn is one of the tactics of managers who want to have sex with their employees. Since forcing your employee to have sex with you is definitely slimy, we all go along with the NSFW stuff as a necessary cost of reducing slime in the workplace.

But it does mean that we can wind up with a case where nobody in a group would object to a picture personally, but nobody in that group can be allowed to show it to anyone else in the group.

Ouch! Sorry, I hadn't properly scrolled down. Note added (thanks!).

Am I the only person hoping that a high profile URL shortener liky bit.ly get taken offline so people learn quickly that redirecting their content's URLs through a 3rd party is a bad idea?

Redirecting your content through a third party like Amazon Web Services? Or Akamai CDN? Or Rackspace?

All small- to medium-size websites are the result of dozens of third party companies -- server farms, network backbones, DNS providers -- working together. Even the really gigantic sites like Google and Yahoo, who really do own their whole networks and all their hardware, use third party services extensively.

In the case of a third-party URL shortener, the other party's presence is more visible but no more intrinsically unreliable. And in fact, in this instance, the redirector itself didn't go down -- what "broke" was the DNS provider, namely NIC.ly.

There's a difference between using a 3rd-party service that provides a value to help deliver your site to your audience more effectively, and using a URL shortener that obscures your site and adds no value to your delivery.

Using a URL shortener also means if that URL shortener ever goes down or out, you just lost all those links to your site.

You're correct that traditional content is routed through a ton of different companies, and that anyone of them can fail, but using bit.ly is essentially pointless, as it just tacts on another service that must be relied on.

In 10 years when bit.ly is completely dead, 2/3rds of the tweets or other comments on the web will be rendered useless.

People complain about this a lot, but the rate of link-rot of ordinary URLs is much, much greater than people believe. I run a URL shortener, and I can assure you that while all of our links still work, huge numbers of the pages they point to no longer exist.

The problem is also overstated because nearly all URL shorteners (bit.ly included) are sending HTTP 301 responses. This means that the short link is never indexed; only the original link is. So shorteners have no effect on pagerank/search results, which is where the longevity of pages is important (since anything not published in the very recent past is mostly discovered by search).

Fortunately, some ArchiveTeam members are archiving short URLs for when that time comes.


The project definitely needs more volunteers. Check out the website or join #archiveteam on EFNet if you are interested in helping save the future internet.

I think he's talking about how URL shorteners undermine a bit of the effectiveness and utility of REST. All resources should be clear and readable, etc. URL shorteners remove useful information.

I usually don't care if I'm downvoted, but usually I can figure out the reason.

The HN community has become pretty watered down lately. Yuck.

This is what your firewall is for. If the IP is from Libya, send the packets to the web server that hosts the "Libya is excellent!" page. If it's from the country that your users are in, show them the real content.

Technical solutions to social problems sometimes work :)

of course Libya is a mythical country behind mountains higher than Himalayas and has no diplomatic missions anywhere in the world nor are it's officials able to travel let alone Google "violet blue".

I still don't get the recent trend of startups branding their businesses around .ly and .io. I suppose it's similar to any "hip" trend, such as gradients and rounded corners, but it always seemed legally risky to me.

Why does .io seem legally risky to you? The British Indian Ocean Territory is currently a British protectorate, and the two countries that otherwise claim the islands are Mauritius and the Seychelles, both of which are peaceful and democratic.

http://www.nic.io/rules.html states that you may not host content under a .io domain if it is against the statutory laws of any nation.

Not to mention .tv.

I think many people consider .tv a creation for television and video on the Internet, but it was originally reserved for the island of Tuvalu.

For a time, GoDaddy had a popup when you went to register a .tv domain stating that the island of Tuvalu was sinking and may not exist in the future.


If you believe Wikipedia, however, a move in March of this year by Sedo made .tv a safe investment.


It should be noted that all vb.ly links still exist but do not function at this time. We have the database intact, and will restore your shortened URLs momentarily with a suitable domain.

It's nice that they're doing that but it's essentially worthless. The url's in the database have no value, it's the ones spread all over other people's servers, and the work that went into doing it that have value.

If you hand a government complete power over a critical resource, and you or your peers don't vote for that government, you will regret it.

The historical parallel to oil is not lost on Libya. Before 1850 or so, oil was just a nuisance mineral. When the West developed applications for it, Libya's territory, formerly a desert, was now worth trillions. Oil is now 95% of Libya's exports, and probably 95% of their international power too.

Libya's government evolved to defend and exploit natural resources, and they've historically done very un-democratic things to further that goal. So please, don't hand them the keys to your startup.

I'm not sure if this is a real change to the nic.ly policy or not. It's tricky. They say it was adult content. While vb.ly might not have had any, it was co-owned by Violet Blue, who while she is many wonderful things, she is not islamic.

Violet Blue's Website: http://www.tinynibbles.com/

It's not just Libya, the US govt which has ultimate control over .com, .org, .net, .us, .gov, etc... also has some crazy ideas. Just look at how the senate last week wanted to start revoking domain names willy nilly.

Wanted! = Acted

The US senate, house, and president all want lots of things that never come to pass, because we have a government with lots of competing interests that (mostly) all have to agree on something before it bbecomes a law. This is in stark contrast to Lyybia or any other dictatorship where laws can be changed at the whim of whoever is in power.

That's not just at the top, either. Dictatorships are usually run like fiefdoms: people are given absolute power over everyone below them, so long as they don't piss off the people above them. So the guy who runs the registrar can do whatever he pleases so long as his boss is ok with it.

Whether or not adult content was physically hosted by vb.ly or not is really a technicality. If the link results in porn in your browser window...

Well, domain name cannot physically host any meaningful content, for most useful values of 'meaningful content'.

I guess they block Google, then?

They would probably block google.ly, or at least filter it.


Cutesy domain names considered harmful.

As somebody pointed out earlier in the thread, del.icio.us was really a terrible name. When you try to say it out loud (or even think it in your head) it comes out as "dell dot icky-o dot us"; the whole "oh, that's cute, it spells delicious" is pretty shortlived. delicious.com is way easier to say and looks better.

The same thing goes for your personal sites. bob.jon.es sounds pretty stupid when you try to tell somebody "Just go to bob dot jon dot es" or "bob dot j-o-n dot e-s".

Just say no to cutesy domain names. bobjones.net, not bob.jon.es; delicious.com, not del.icio.us.

This reminds me of the current Dubai commercial property crisis. During the boom, everyone bought property without asking if there was a legal framework for resolving disputes. Now that there's a bust, investors are finding Dubai's opaque property laws make it very difficult to resolve disputes and get your money out.


You bought virtual commercial real-estate in Libya and now you're finding you are subject to local law and bureaucracy.

Google's bet on the Greenland TDL with goo.gl is less risky but I'd be interested to see what their lawyers had the local government and ccTLD admins agree to.

I'm reasonably sure I predicted this: http://joshua.schachter.org/2009/04/on-url-shorteners.html

> it sets a precedent that all websites running on a .ly domain must comply with Libyan Islamic/Sharia

Given that Libya is a sovereign nation and .ly is their TLD, not a playground for you to create cute domains that seems 110% reasonable.

Reasonableness is orthogonal to dangerousness. It's reasonable that playing with a wild grizzly bear might end in serious injury.

Fair enough, and true.

I was more responding to the entitled and shocked tone that someone(entity) would act in their self interests even when they, OMG!, conflicted with petty interests of "your" own.

I also have a serious twist in my nickers over abusing TLDs to get cutesy domain names.

I also have a very serious twist about people who go out of their way to violate custom / abuse a system and then whine about when it doesn't work just they way they want.

It's slightly funny how lots of Americans are complaining about Libya's rules for .ly, but have obviously never read the rules for .us which are in many aspects worse.

When I was suggesting domain names for the NYTimes short URL this was a major concern. I'm sorry to see it actually happen.

I would like to draw attention to the fact that US had economic embargo on Libya till 2004(?) and even today there are many items that cannot be exported to Libya.

So, when your government (assuming the entrepreneur in question is American) classifies Libya as a dangerous state, it might be prudent to avoid building your identity over the domain names provided by Libya... don't you think.

I remember this only because Oracle made me click a check box agreeing not to export any of their software to these "axis of evil" countries.

I have two 3-letter .ly domains. Do you think it's a bad idea to use them for anything serious now?

Everything in business has a risk associated with it. Domain names are not excluded from that analysis.

The risk with .ly domains has been discussed before. This is just evidence that the risk exists and this evidence should be used to recalculate that risk.

As mentioned in a similar reply in this thread a Plan B should be considered. Any sufficiently large website or business should have some disaster recovery plans, regardless and this is just another page that needs to be created for that plan

What a Plan B for a domain name is? I'm not quite sure but, del.icio.us delicious.com is an example.

I suggest having a Plan B.

I wouldn't panic yet as a .ly domain owner:

"While letters ‘vb’ are quite generic and bear no offensive meaning in themselves, they’re being used as a domain name for an openly admitted ‘adult friendly URL shortener’. Now, had your domain merely been a URL shortener for general uses similar to bit.ly (as you claim) there would have been no problem with it. It is when you promote your site being solely for adult uses, or even state that you are ‘adult friendly’ to promote it that we as a Libyan Registry have an issue."

There is definitely some risk, so mitigate it and buy the ly.com variant of a .ly domain to protect against this - much like ad.ly owns adly.com, embed.ly owns embedly.com.

Watch what bit.ly does - likely nothing right now. If they get warning like vb.ly says they did, we will hear about it, and then every .ly owner has a problem.

'You may also not know that since June 2010 .ly domains less than 4 characters long may no longer be registered by anyone who isn’t in Libya which suggests there is tension around foreign owned, high-value, short .ly domains.'

What about bit.ly?

Registrant: bit.ly Jessica McVea 416 West 13th Street New York NY United States Zip/Postal code: 10014 Phone: 6468398575

Domain Name: BIT.LY

Created: 2008-05-18 14:50:12 Updated: 2010-03-09 18:25:33 Expired: 2011-05-18 14:50:12

Domain servers in listed order: ns4.p26.dynect.net ns3.p26.dynect.net ns2.p26.dynect.net ns1.p26.dynect.net

Domain Status: ACTIVE

Why do we even have all these stupid country specific domain extensions? Countries are not permanent entries; they come and go. What happens when a country ceases to exist, gets invaded, has a civil war...? What on earth is the benefit of having dozens and dozens of domain extensions, except to confuse people and force them to pay endless amounts for every possible misspelling of your domain? (Seriously, who the hell thought that a .cm domain extension was a good idea?!)

Finally. I was wondering when somebody was going to crack down on all those .ly domain names. Web 2.0 startups with their cute domain names tend to forget that those TLDs are actually controlled by someone. I remember a while back when Italy started restricting .it domain names because so many Americans were registering .it domain names.

Funny how many on here complain about Libya and their sharia requirement instead.

Site is down, you can read the article with Bing's cache: http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=http%3a%2f%2fbenmetcalfe.co...

I made an adult themed URL shortener pr0n.ly and they ended up canceling the registration b/c it violated islamic law. They said that the problem was the domain name, though, not the content, and issued me age.ly instead (which I still haven't re-branded)

bit.ly is not gonna like that!

I don't understand why he is so upset about the rule that three letter domain names are blocked. He should move to Switzerland, here you can't register domain names shorter than 3 letters.

You can, actually. Just not in the .ch TLD.

Ask HN: Do you think bit.ly should be worried? Do you think they could feasibly switch to a backup url (like j.mp) without totally killing their service?

I don't know if this is common knowledge, but all bit.ly-powered domains are actually mirrors of each other, so http://bit.ly/bdMwyV and http://j.mp/bdMwyV automatically go to the same place. This would make such a switch technically simple, but obviously you'd still break all the old bit.ly-domain links.

You can shove your URL shorteners http://ana.ly/

Thanks, reporting that one too.

qoiob.com uses shorter (1 char) and more stylish (symbols) domain names (and also works fine with Tweetdeck and other auto-shortening tools) http://✰.ws/

What would happen to Twitter if Bit.ly got disrupted?

  REPLACE 'bit.ly' with 'tw.it' WHERE tweet CONTAINS 'bit.ly'
or something like that

I've reported bit.ly to Libya, hopefully it'll be taken offline soon.

HN should register under the .hn domain

In Short:

This made me chuckle.

Slightly offtopic, I know, but the use of "contest" in the post confused me.

For instance-

"Again, while we contest that there was NO pornography or adult material on vb.ly," ...

(It is used in that manner several times)

That statement is essentially saying that they disagree that there was no pornography, or in essence that they agree that there was.

To contest something means to disagree with it.

surprise surprise

no seriously, what part of Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya you didn't get?

All the Lybians did now was scare American and other Western entrepreneurs from getting anywhere near their domain. I was about to have my new startup set up with .ly domain, but now I will move to a much friendlier .it domain (in fact, I would stay away from any Muslim country domain, just in case, including .io).

Those who say "oh, we don't own the Internet, how arrogant of us to even think we do..." I want to tell you one thing - yes, you can shove those Sharia countries domains to http://ana.ly. We do OWN the internet, because it is us who create the Internet. This Lybian Alshariff, or whatever his name is, thinks that because his government thinks that those domains are valuable THATS a reason good enough to confiscate and block them from our use. Ok, fine, do it, moron. The only problem is – once you do something as stupid as this you scare all the people AWAY from your domains, making them literally worthless. When they will realize it it will be too late – once scared people of business do not come back.

What a terribly shortsighted comment.

> We do OWN the internet, because it is us who create the Internet.

That's a pretty serious mis-statement of fact right there. You don't OWN the internet because it was 'you' (whoever that is) that created it.

The internet is a connection of networks, each of those networks could operate by itself, the fact that we've partitioned the address space in a way that allows us to route packets from 'sharia' ruled countries to the United States, Europe, Asia, Latin America and all of the EU is to our mutual benefit.

To suggest that you 'can shove those Sharia countries domains...' is to add insult to injury, nobody there asked for American and EU entrepreneurial types to buy these domains and use them, they are primarily intended for use by those countries nations. To muddy the intentions of TLDs is a questionable practice, how would you feel if Wallmart started to sell stuff under a .edu domain?

Those domains are not worthless, they just are what they are, regional TLDs, specifically with the intent to enable each country to govern their own TLD as they see fit.

Please also notice that .us is the regional domain for the United States, and not .com , and that it too has its own set of rules.

Any country that opens up its national TLD is in fact explicitly asking outsiders to "buy these domains and use them". Indeed, many national TLDs are marketed mostly to non-nationals. The government of Tuvalu apparently makes 10 percent of its revenue from the .tv domain (and wishes it had a better deal with Verisign so that was even larger). It is surely important to the countries who make this choice to maintain good relations with the "American and EU entrepreneurial types". Otherwise why did they bother?

For the most part it is the registrars that enable this, the domain authorities are not actively stopping foreigners from buying these domains but you can't take that as an encouragement from their end. The simple fact that the terms of service are not available in English is quite a hint imo.

And they bothered because they like money, but if the downsides are too much for their sensibilities (with which you are free to disagree, as do I) they can make your life miserable. Just like you're not going to be mooning anybody in downtown Singapore it probably isn't smart to host an adult site on a predominantly Muslim country TLD.

We own the internet in the sense that we create the content and value for those domains, that otherwise would be just a collection of useless characters. How many successful startups do you know that were created by Libyans? And as far as Sharia law goes – I don't care what they do in their own countries, as long as it doesn't touch me in any way. That also means that if touching their domains means risking to loose your business - I would stay away, and every rational Internet entrepreneur would do the same. That's how WE own the Internet in my understanding.

Thanks for the .it article, I guess I rushed with assumptions. Governments are governments after all.

The majority of the content online is not created by startups, I would wager that the majority of the internet couldn't care less about your little startup circle jerk. To suggest that any single country "owns" or contributes most to the internet is laughable. I never use content created by china, that doesn't mean it's non-existant.

The majority of content on the internet is trash as far as I am concerned, but if you read carefully what I write you would see that I am talking about value. Chinese entrepreneurs create valuable resources, that allow Chinese users to use Internet for their benefit, which includes creating content that we might consider as trash. Without Chinese entrepreneurs there would be no Chinese internet, just a collection of Chinese government sites that nobody uses. Same goes for Russian, German, Israeli, British, etc. etc. and yes - AMERICAN entrepreneurs, who should be the first on this list, whether you like it or not.

Majority of the Internet IS what you called a startup circle, because that's who builds all the resources people like you use. And to claim that I claim that a "country" owns the Internet means you don't know how to read – I stress that Internet is essentially owned by those who create resources and supported by those who use those resources – not by the governments of countries who think they can make rules and do whatever they want. They can do it physically – and end up having no value left, because those who create value have departed.

And besides – I am not even American.

Not to let facts get in the way of a good rant:

"I would stay away from any Muslim country domain, just in case, including .io"

Are you aware that .io is assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is "an overseas territory of the United Kingtom?" The registry itself is maintained by two UK-based companies, Internet Computer Bureau PLC and Cable and Wireless.

oooops, I spent my life being convinced that .io is Indonesia...thanks for clarification, will put that one back on the white list.

Indonesia is .id

And America is .ego.

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