Hundreds of Comments Flood in as .Jobs Comments Close

If the sheer number of comments decided the matter, the proposal to expand the use of .jobs addresses would be DOA. In the week since opponents of the plan launched a campaign against it, more than 200 comments were posted to the public forum run by the group that will decide the matter.

Not all the comments opposed the expansion; however, most did. The majority appear to stem from an email campaign launched by the International Association of Employment Web Sites, the trade group for the world’s job boards.

While many of the comments followed the sample letter circulated among IAEWS members and to others including staffing agencies (here’s a sample that includes the pitch), several argued their own case against the expansion.

One of those, from Monster CEO Sal Iannuzzi, urges the Internet addressing authority — Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — to reject the plan to open up .jobs addresses to almost any name combination.

His letter says “Monster has significant procedural and substantive concerns” with the proposal, not the least of which is that it “proposes to grant unlimited decision-making authority to a single entity — Employ Media — that stands to reap significant financial benefits… ”

In 2005 Employ Media was granted the right to sell .jobs addresses to employers who use their corporate name in the address. Thus, CompanyName.jobs is allowed, whereas Atlanta.jobs is not. In addition, the company could only use the address for its own jobs and had to subscribe to a code of ethics.

However, last fall Employ Media and its partner DirectEmployers Association launched the first of what was to be thousands of job boards using generic names, including Atlanta.jobs. The project was only halted after ICANN sent letters to Employ Media and to the Society for Human Resource Management, which sponsored the .jobs domain plan in 2005 and still oversees it.

At that point, SHRM convened a council to review the plan and conducted a survey of its members. The group OK’d the plan early in June.  At the point, Employ Media petitioned ICANN for its approval. Besides broadening the use of the .jobs domain, Employ Media says it will distribute the names via an RFP process, followed by an auction, and then if anything is left, by a first-come, first-served sale.

Iannuzzi pointed to those job boards and the geographic and occupational names they used when he said, “It does not appear Employ Media has any intention of allocating any non-“company name” domain names to third parties, other than perhaps to DirectEmployers Association as part of the ‘building out’ of “The Dot Jobs Universe” that has been occurring in 2009 in contravention” of the agreements with ICANN.

Noted recruiting leader Gerry Crispin sent a separate letter urging rejection of the expansion, as did David Manaster, CEO of ERE. There are also comments and letters from associations and some college career centers.

Most notable among the supports are letters from Employ Media and DirectEmployers AssociationEmploy Media’s 10-page rebuttal to the opposition letters appears immediately before Monster’s letter. Submitted by Ray Fassett, Employ Media’s VP, the rebuttal argues that changes in the naming convention was always anticipated in the agreement that created .jobs as an Internet extension in the first place.

“Many detractors, who seek to force Employ Media to forever maintain the same business model and naming conventions, even to the detriment of the Community, fail to see that change is contemplated throughout the document,” the rebuttal says.

The “Community” is the HR community. Employ Media declares false claims by opponents that by expanding the types of names that can be used with a .jobs extension the nature of the community is changed. “Any comments with regard to the RSEP (expansion) request in any way changing the Community are completely false,” writes Employ Media.

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The letter also defends the process by which a SHRM-created committee reviewed the expansion plan and approved it. In a section headed “SHRM has Served Impeccably as the Sponsoring Organization for the .JOBS Community,” the rebuttal letter charges the job board group with impugning SHRM’s reputation and allowing it to become “acceptable collateral damage.”

The arguments of the opponents are called “convoluted” and the letter notes, “Employ Media submits that for IAEWS it is all about keeping out the competition.”

DirectEmployers also submitted its own rebuttal letter. Over the signature of Bill Warren, executive director of the organization, the letter calls the opposition efforts a “smear campaign using modern day technology.”

The comment period is now closed. What happens next is not entirely clear, though an ICANN spokesperson said the organization’s board may take up the expansion plan for .jobs at an Aug. 5th telephone meeting. Those meetings are closed. We won’t know until the week before if the matter is on the agenda.

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