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• Why do we have to deal separately with MuseDoma
and a registrar to get names in .museum?
• We thought that we had already registered directly with MuseDoma?
• Didn't we already pay MuseDoma to register our names?
• We sent in a preliminary application some time ago but lost track of it. Do we need to submit a new application or can we continue processing the first one?
• Why shouldn't we wait until .museum is in wider use .museum names before going to expense of registering?
• What happens if MuseDoma doesn't give us a Community ID?
• How much does a name in .museum cost?
• How is the annual registration fee set?
• We've made a significant investment in branding our current domain name. Why would we want to change?
• Why are there restrictions on the names we can register in .museum?
• Is there any hidden fine print?
.museum is a so-called "Sponsored TLD". As such, it has a "Sponsoring Organization" charged with ensuring that the domain is only used by eligible name holders. The Museum Domain Management Association (MuseDoma) is the .museum sponsor and was created as a nonprofit organization exclusively for that role. A Sponsoring Organization authorizes the registrars for its domain but may not provide registration service, itself. Similarly, the registrars may not take independent responsibility for determining an applicant's eligibility to hold a name in the domain. As a consequence, acquiring names in .museum is a two stage process. The first is the allocation of a "Community-ID" by MuseDoma, certifying the applicant's eligibility to hold names in .museum. The second is the registration of the ID holder's names by an independent registrar.
As the Sponsoring Organization for .museum, MuseDoma is contractually prohibited from serving as a registrar. Special conditions applied during the start-up phase of domain activity, when MuseDoma was permitted to register names provisionally. This service has long since terminated and all holders of provisionally registered names need to transfer them formally to one of the authorized registrars.
MuseDoma initially collected a fee for what are formally termed "Eligibility and Name Selection" (ENS) services. This was solely intended to cover the cost of those services and was separate from the annual registration fee. MuseDoma does not currently charge for the services it provides and all fees are due directly to the registrars.
The clearest way for museums to spread word about their dedicated top-level domain is by using it. Although there may be other channels for conveying that message, the strongest way to highlight any of them is by including an invitation to "visit us at http://our.site.museum/".
Adopting a wait-and-see stance toward actively supporting .museum can easily have the opposite effect. It will certainly slow the rate at which the domain becomes known. In the worst of cases, it might be taken to indicate that something as specialized as a top-level domain dedicated to the museum community is not sustainable.
MuseDoma is obligated to restrict the holding of names in .museum to applicants meeting criteria that are clearly stated in the domain's Charter. Within that framework, MuseDoma has no interest greater than realizing the broadest possible participation in the domain. If an applicant's eligibility cannot be established during initial review, the reasons for this are clearly described. When the applicant provides notification of the corresponding change in status, MuseDoma will resume processing the application.
MuseDoma reserves the right to charge a fee for processing a request for a Community ID but does not currently do so. An annual fee is due to an authorized .museum registrar for each registered name. The registrars independently determine the range of services that they offer and the costs for them. The current list of authorized .museum registrars will always be found at http://about.museum/registrars. Links are provided there to the registrars' own Web sites where further information may be obtained. A midrange figure for the annual fee for the registration of a single name is currently US$100.
There are substantial basic costs for the operation of any top-level domain. These costs are distributed among the holders of names in that domain by the annual registration fee. If there is a large number of names within a domain, the cost for each name can be lower than it would be in a smaller domain. Operating costs are also greater for domains with policies that require on-going enforcement than they are for unrestricted domains where maintenance can be highly automated. Prices range from the US$15 charged by many registrars for a name in the large unrestricted TLDs such as .com and .org (which count their size by millions of names), to well in excess of US$100 for many of the restricted national domains (which may contain only a few thousand names).
After careful consideration of the many relevant factors, the Sponsoring Organizations for the three sponsored TLDs created by ICANN in 2001 decided that it should be possible for a registrar to sell a name in them for no more than US$100. Since the annual fee paid by a name holder for a name in .museum is independently set by each registrar, MuseDoma set its fees to the registrars accordingly.
Changing a top-level domain identity is a multifaceted and complex issue. One of the most significant support documents that will appear on this Web site discusses the various strategic and technical factors that must be considered. In anticipation of the release of that document, the following may be worth noting:
If a museum has a well-established and otherwise satisfactory domain identity, the most appropriate short-term action is probably to supplement, rather than replace, it with a newly-acquired name in .museum. The Snazeigh Art Museum may have invested a good deal in attracting visitors to www.snazart.org and, although pleased to have acquired snazart.museum and snazeigh.art.museum, is uncertain about how best to use them. One immediate application would be to attract the attention of Web users who are interested in art museums on the Internet but not specifically aware of the Snazeigh Art Museum. They would be quite likely to discover the listing at http://art.museum/, where they would also find snazeigh.art.museum. The .museum name thus provides a signpost to a Web site in another domain.
The referral logs on the target Web site will reveal the extent to which visitors come via the .museum address and thus provide a basis for deciding when it should be given more direct prominence. One approach would be to configure the Web site to identify itself using its .museum name, while retaining the previous designation for a redirection page with the familiar message, "This Web site has moved to http://snazart.museum/. Please update your bookmarks. If you are not automatically taken to the new address in a few seconds please click here." This redirection may also be performed without the intermediate page but the initial address should remain functional for as long as it might be used by potential visitors.
MuseDoma is contractually prohibited from permitting the use of a number of specified labels in .museum names. The clearest restrictions are placed on the second-level (immediately to the left of the .museum label) and MuseDoma is authorized to place further restrictions on the name space. These restrictions are formally stated in the .museum Naming Conventions and the reasoning behind them is discussed in a parallel explanatory text.
Although it isn't hidden, there is a detailed formal ENS Application Agreement for .museum that every applicant for a Community-ID is obligated to accept at: http://ens.museum/ensagreement.html.