What to do with an extra $58,786,582 raised by ICANN through its auction process during the new gTLD program (this number could go higher, there remain a few auctions left)? This is the question that ICANN has asked its “community” to comment on. The deadline to share opinion ends in about ten days. Better hurry!
But wait! You may be wondering how ICANN, which is supposed to be a non-profit entity, hobbled together an extra $58,786,582. Well, when two or more entities applied for the same or similar new top-level domain name in ICANN’s last new top-level round, ICANN lumped those folks into “contention sets.” Subject to a few untried and arguably broken exceptions such as a “community evaluation” process – designed to determine who was the best representative of a community if the domain name were designated in a way that would be limited to use by that community – ICANN’s solution to resolve contention sets was “whoever pays the most wins.”
Wait again, you say! Is it true that ICANN was unable or unwilling to develop a process to determine which of the domain names would serve the public good? Could there have been a scoring system, public comment, or perhaps just a flip of a coin? Sure, but that would not have resulted in big payments to its auction provider and the $58,786,582 surplus that ICANN now has the privilege of distributing to those it ends up deeming worthy.