Building a More Inclusive Internet for All: A Radix Initiative

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The ironic fact remains that there is a hard-coded rigidity in the ever-evolving internet in the way of universal acceptance. But that only makes our victories so much more enjoyable!

Universal Acceptance (UA) is a fundamental requirement for a truly multilingual and digitally inclusive Internet. The UA is important because it ensures that all domain names, including new long top-level domains (TLDs) and internationalized domain names (IDNs), and email addresses are treated equally and can be used by all Internet-enabled applications, devices and systems. .

Undoubtedly, the most important stakeholder affected by the bad UA of the new TLDs is the service consumer using the new TLD. And as a leading operator of new gTLDs, Radix has seen fit to do its part to address these issues.

We started working on UA ​​in early 2019. Since then, our research has focused on detecting gaps in UA readiness of major websites and social media platforms. As a first step, we conducted an in-depth study to identify these problems encountered by our customers, whether they were reported or not. Our research included surveys of some of our customers as well as extensive testing of the most popular websites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even websites related to e-commerce, banking, etc.

A customer-centric approach

New Short – Signup Forms Impacting Visitors (Source: Radix Universal Acceptance Test Report)

In digging deeper into customer surveys, we found that some of the most common customer complaints sounded like “I was filling out a form on a website and they wouldn’t accept any email id after 3 characters (in the domain extension)” or “Some government and corporate websites just don’t recognize my domain (on a new domain extension).”

As more and more of our customers reported their specific UA-related issues, we tested each of these individual cases and tried several ways to contact the website/platforms in question to highlight their deficiencies in matter of AU. These reports are now public and can be viewed by anyone here: websites, social media.

A key victory for us (and UA!) was with Instagram Swipe up redirect functionality. This important feature remained unavailable for new gTLD domains until mid-2020. With determined focus, we worked with users to report this bug and eventually made progress until new short and long TLD domain names and email addresses were accepted on contact forms. Also, the fastest resolution we’ve seen was provided by SurveyMonkey. We alerted them that their registration/contact forms were not accepting new short or long TLD email addresses, and they fixed it within a week!

While some of these positive examples were undoubtedly motivating, we struggled to get a response from most website owners. When we did, they were unfortunately unfavorable. During our research, we tried to contact these companies through publicly available support channels, and although we received acknowledgment emails, there was little to no response. commitment to resolve AU issues.

Our website testing exercise was inspired by the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) testing methodology mentioned in its 2020 report.

Website Test Observations and Results

For those unfamiliar with the terms, new short TLDs are TLD extensions with three characters or less (eg, .xyz). New long TLDs are TLD extensions with more than three characters (eg, .online). IDNs are TLDs in different script extensions (for example, .भारत).

After testing 787 websites across multiple categories, including e-commerce and social media, Radix’s independent research observed that new short TLDs had a contact form acceptance rate of 93.8%, while that new long TLDs and IDN extensions reached 88.81% and 33.93%, respectively. In terms of registration acceptance rate, new short and new long TLDs came in at 89.4% and 80.4%, but IDNs only had a measly 23.47%.

Comments from RADIX
Case % acceptance of registration % of acceptance of the contact form
New court 89.40 93.80
New Long 80.40 88.81
IDN 23.47 33.93

While the acceptance rates for new short cases and new long cases are over 80% in most categories, we see a drastic drop when a domain is an IDN. Such comparisons between categories highlight issues and provide direction to Ambassadors and Members advocating for Universal Acceptance.

Observations and test results on social media

As part of the study, we also tested these social media platforms for their UA readiness of new short and long TLDs:

  1. Facebook
  2. instagram
  3. WhatsApp
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Twitter
  6. Youtube
  7. ICT Tac
  8. Reddit
  9. WeChat
  10. QQ

Some of the key areas we tested were sign-up flows, email accepting features and websites and their respective link after comparing the performance of the platform with a standard .com domain name . We’ve extended testing to web, iOS, and Android versions where available.

For example, the chat feature on Facebook — Android version automatically hyperlinks and previews a .com domain name, while it might not for a new long or short TLD. In another example, WhatsApp appears to hyperlink domains on their chat windows based on a library that may be hard-coded or outdated.

By far, our biggest challenge remains connecting with website and platform owners. Although difficult, we believe that with the support of the ICANN community, we can work collectively to strengthen outreach efforts. That said, similar studies are conducted either in silos or through working groups. We encourage all of these efforts and look forward to the remediation phase of the UASG.

Conclusion

Although our efforts have gained momentum and the progress made is encouraging, this is only the beginning. We still have a long way to go to make the Internet more inclusive of all TLDs so our customers can operate freely on the web. Only then will the rules of the game be level playing field for all users.

  1. Originally posted on Universal Acceptance Steering Group.
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