As we mentioned in a previous post, we are going to launch the .gay domain name extension to the public later this year.
This past week, we convened an advisory council of community members to better refine the mission and purpose of .gay.
This post gives a brief summary of our findings and shares our roadmap for the future launch of .gay on October 11th, 2019.
Saturday Morning Mind Wide Open Exercise
Whenever you launch a brand new product, it requires careful planning. For .gay, we wanted to make sure that we were being intentional and creating space for external input on our launch. Some questions we wanted to address were:
Who could benefit from the use of a .gay domain name?
How is the .gay domain going to fit in greater LGBTQ+ community?
What is our mission statement and purpose as we launch the .gay domain name?
To answer these questions, we conducted a thought-experiment exercise that we like to call Mind Wide Open. In this exercise, all participants in a meeting are asked to write down their thoughts on note cards about the work at hand. In this case, we brainstormed anything that came to mind about the launch of .gay. These ideas could include anything from pricing, to mission statement, to corporate responsibility.
There were no right or wrong answers in this exercise; rather, it was an opportunity to let our minds wander and think creatively. Once complete, we had a whole table full of topics. We grouped all related ideas together and identified general themes for discussion. Once we had all the themes on the board, we then prioritized and started delving into each one. There were intentionally no time limits placed on each theme because we wanted to give each theme enough time to discuss and hash out.
Major Themes Pertinent to .gay
Some of the themes we identified as a group included:
Abuse & Content Policies
How would we ensure that our company acts in a responsible way when issues arise from the abuse of .gay domain names?
When it comes to spam, most domain name registrars have specific policies and procedures in place to determine what constitutes spam and what constitutes a reasonable amount of promotional content. But when it comes to themes of cyberbullying and harassment, the lines are blurred. How can we ensure that the use of the .gay domain name minimizes the risk of people feeling alienated and maximizes the feeling of inclusion and safety? In a way, each top-level-domain, (or TLD), is its own “space” on the internet. For example, .com is for commerce and general website domains, just as .dentist is for the dentistry industry and parts suppliers and so on. As .gay becomes introduced into the mix, how can we make it a safe space for those using it? Regardless of the exact policy that we come up with, one thing was certain: we will need to communicate our policy clearly on our website and on our terms & conditions page, in order to make it easy for people to understand their rights, and what to do in the case of a complaint. One observation that was made at the meeting was that other large companies do have policies for dealing with abuse, but their instructions are so lengthy and overloaded with legalese that the average user gives up out of frustration. As one of the meeting participants wisely posited: the path forward must keep the user experience at the forefront of our policy efforts.
Promoting Good Content
We all know the internet has occasionally been used as a place for harmful and derogatory content over the last 20 years. So we wanted to discuss ways in which we could promote good content to be used on .gay. Some examples we identified included: using the .gay domain name for businesses that cater to gay clients, or organizations and events that support the gay community.
We identified one theme as the need to partner with organizations and allies of the gay and LGBTQ+ community. By partnering with community organizations, we could feed off of each other to promote .gay and make it available to anyone in the world who identifies as gay.
Mission & Purpose
After all of this discussion, we arrived at two key conclusions:
1.) We answered the question “Who is .gay for?”
2.) We defined The mission & Purpose of .gay
Who is .gay for?
Our target market is anyone who identifies as gay. .gay is part of the LGBTQ+ community, but it certainly doesn’t act as an umbrella term. For that reason we want to be clear that our target market would self-identify as gay.
The Mission & Purpose of The .gay Domain Name
Provide a Space for Gay People to Celebrate & Connect.
We chose the word “space” because having a .gay domain name signals to visitors that the website is a place for gay content and customers. The word “connect” was chosen to symbolize how both website creators and visitors can connect with each other by having a simple identifier on the domain name URL of the website. By seeing that detail, .gay would let people know what you do as a business before they even arrive to the website.
At the end of the meeting it was clear that follow-on discussions were necessary. We needed to look at the types of organizations and media outlets that could help get the word about the .gay domain name. While we were unable to address all questions that we initially laid out at the beginning of the meeting, we felt productive in generating the high-level messaging for .gay. One thing was clear, regardless of what new insights we come up with in subsequent meetings, .gay is poised to make a splash in the market in October.