Campaigning for a Welsh cultural and linguistic domain

Why dotCYM?

Canolfan y Mileniwm, CardiffBecause the Welsh language and culture is a community that we believe should be identified and enhanced by having its own sponsored TLD on the Internet. Under a .CYM sponsored TLD those organisations, companies and people that express themselves in the Welsh language and/or wish to encourage Welsh culture will be able to be registered and will be clearly identifiable.

The dotCYM campaign was formed by a group of like-minded individuals drawn from the fields of commerce, computer programming and design, public relations, law and publishing who saw the need for a Top Level Domain for the Welsh language community.

A .cym TLD will play a strategic role in validating Welsh culture and language in an age of increasing globalisation. It will make it easier for individuals and groups who wish to associate with the community to identify with other users around the world. The success of the dotCYM campaign will unite the Welsh-speaking communities across Wales, the UK, and the rest of the world. There are historic Welsh communities in North and South America, as well as Australia.

The success of the dotCYM campaign will confirm that the World Wide Web really is multi-national and a multilingual medium.

It will also play a pivotal role in promoting further the use of the Welsh language on the World Wide Web as a modern medium of communication. The relative cost effectiveness of the web compared to traditional print publishing also makes the web especially attractive to smaller language communities such as Welsh and is a great emancipator.

Large parts of open source software are already available in Welsh such as Open Office. The Linux system is available in Welsh, and work is ongoing to create a Welsh language version of Mac OS X. Following negotiations with the Welsh Language Board Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office is also now available in Welsh. Google also offers a Welsh language interface for its search engine.

The next step is a Welsh language TLD. Large companies such as Microsoft and Google have already realised the opportunities gained by offering services in Welsh, and in other languages of choice, for millions of speakers of languages other than the more conventional larger languages. It is now extremely important that the organisations who run the World Wide Web also grasp the opportunity to support online language communities, such as Welsh.

Wales is not an independent country, but the Welsh language has more speakers than languages of independent European countries such as Icelandic (240,000) and Faroese (70,000). Although the web was originally and still predominantly an English language medium, the world wide web is now going through a dynamic period of linguistic democratisation, of which the increasing presence and use of Welsh is one reflection.

According to research made in 2002, Welsh is the 42nd most widely written language on the web and the 56th most widely written language on the international Wikipedia above larger language communities, including state languages, such as Macedonian, Latvian, Tagalog and Tamil. There are many Welsh language blogs, popular Discussion Forums, and a Welsh language Web-mail service.

The Welsh-speaking community has always seen itself as a literary community with the pen taking precedent over the sword. The development of the language has been a source of inspiration. The World Wide Web gives the Welsh language an opportunity to create its own niche that it already enjoys on the field of sport and to a growing degree in politics.

Benefits of a .cym top-level domain for the Welsh community of interest. (pdf)

The Internet is a communications network that puts millions of computer systems in contact, distributed around the world. The way to identify all the computers on the Internet, just as license plates identify cars, is with a number. This number is assigned according to a protocol, the Internet Protocol (IP).

But why is there a .org, .com, .cat but no .cym?

Because there is an entity that regulates, organises and creates new Top Level Domains (.com or .uk are Top Level Domains)

This entity is the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” (ICANN), which manages the DNS and designates new TLD, establishing standards on which the web is built.

How has it been done up until now?

Firstly, we need to differentiate between two types of Top Level Domains (TLD):

The cc-TLD

These are the Country Code-Top Level Domain.
These domains are made up of two letters, for example .uk, .fr, .es
The assignment of these domains (except for some exceptions) corresponds to the ISO-3166 list of country codes which is the commonly accepted International Standard.
ICANN clearly states that it is not for them to decide what is and what is not a country, and therefore if any country wishes to have its own domain, it must become included in the ISO-3166 list. ISO claim that they cannot Include Wales in ISO 3166-1 as Wales does not meet the criteria given by the UN of being an independent country.

The codes ICANN now uses are exclusively those from the ISO 3166-1 standard, although codes previously allocated under previous rules are maintained. In particular, uk (seen on most UK e-mail addresses) is not in ISO 3166-1, the appropriate country code in ISO 3166-1 is GB.

At present, therefore, eight ccTLDs are currently in use despite not being ISO 3166-1 two-letter codes, namely AC (Ascension Island), GG (Guernsey), IM (Isle of Man), JE (Jersey), SU (Soviet Union), TP (East Timor), UK (United Kingdom) YU (Yugoslavia).

The situation in the UK as regards to internet domains is very confusing. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are not in ISO 3166-1 but do have domains, and the UK’s is listed as “GB” in ISO 3166-1, but “UK” is what appears in website addresses.

Areas such as Antarctica and the EU do have ccTLD’s. So do many minor islands. Some of them are barely inhabited (Pitcairn .pn, population 48). Some are now dependencies of Australia or New Zealand but still have their own ISO 3166 codes and DNS entries.

We haven’t given up hope therefore of getting a ccTLD for Wales, but in the short term a generic .cym domain is much more realistic.

Generic TLDs

These generic Top Level Domains are made up of three letters or more, and until now we find three types:

The historical TLDs (since the birth of Internet)

There are seven, and they were the first to be created. They are:

.com: Initially thought of for companies and e-commerce. Currently there is no control and it can be considered a free usage domain.
.net: Initially for internet service providers and network services, but gradually became more generic as the original rigorous enforcement relaxed.
.org: Initially conceived for organizations. Currently there is no control and it can be considered a free usage domain.
.edu: Initially conceived for universities and the educational world. Currently it is reserved exclusively for educational purposes.
.gov: Initially thought of for governmental use. Currently it is reserved exclusively for the government of the United States of America.
.mil: Initially conceived for the military. Currently it is reserved exclusively for the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
.int: Initially conceived for international entities. Currently it is reserved for international organisations meeting certain treaty criteria, such as and

Non-sponsored TLDs (since 2000)

They are generic domains that are not backed by a community that requires a totally restrictive usage.

These domains operate under the policies established by the global Internet community, directly through ICANN.

These domains are:

.biz: For companies (from the word business). Currently there is no control and it can be considered a free usage domain.
.info: As an extention of .net, it is a domain for totally free usage.
.name: Domain for individuals or legal entities that wish to register their name and last name.
.pro: For independent professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc).
.mobi For delivering the internet to mobile devices.

Sponsored TLDs (since 2000)

These are exclusive domains backed by a a community which decides if a person or legal entity can register a domain, in function of whether or not they belong to the community.

There is a sponsor that represents the community. The sponsor is delegated the responsibility of elaborating and administering the policies for the management of the domain.

These domains are:

.aero: For the aeronautical industry
.coop: For cooperative organizations
.museum: For museums.
.cat: for the Catalan language and cultural community

We are fighting for a sTLD for the Welsh language and cultural community - .cym