Preparing For The Launch Of The .gay Domain Name

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.

Mind Wide Open Exercise

Mind Wide Open Exercise

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.

Core Partnerships

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.

Themes we identified to discuss further

Themes we identified to discuss further

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.

The Mission & Purpose of .gay

The Mission & Purpose of .gay

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.

We are proud to be the registry for .gay!

Photo: Mercedes Mehling, Portland Pride

Photo: Mercedes Mehling, Portland Pride

We are super excited to announce that we recently won the auction for the .gay TLD. This brings our portfolio to 4 TLDs.

We already know that our newest member of the family is a special one: .gay is an unprecedented opportunity to create a dedicated space on the Internet for a global population. LGBTQ+ history is a story of resilience, beauty, and community in the face of marginalization and persecution. Imagine for a moment how unique and historic this development is: can you imagine a .gay being introduced during the .com boom of the 90s, during the era of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”? It’s easy to forget, especially in liberal America, exactly how far we’ve come. There are so many personal and social victories to celebrate and so many to still fight for.

Our work and company is about to change and grow in wonderful ways. We’re excited that .gay will allow us to support the visibility of gay and LGBTQ+ people, groups, and businesses around the world.

We will be updating our site as soon as we have details on launch. Right now, we’re hiring, we’re listening, and we’re building. Please get in touch to offer any help.

ICP approved in Beijing

Earlier this month, we were informed that all our TLDs, .wiki and .ink - are ICP approved in Beijing, which means all Internet users in Beijing can now build and operate their .design/.wiki/.ink websites, along with in other provinces in mainland China.

Internet Content Provider, or ICP, is a permit issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to permit China-based websites to operate in China. It is a domain registry’s responsibility to obtain an ICP for its TLD(s). 

There was a lot of hard work went into the process, which makes the approval particularly exciting for our China team, in addition to all our TLDs being approved by MIIT earlier this year. In recent months, we have seen plenty of well-organized, Chinese culture influenced .design websites emerging from Chinese communities (i.e.,,,,,, etc). With the ICP permit, we are confident to anticipate that the world will see more and more Chinese websites using our TLDs.

For more China-focused content, please follow our official WeChat account TopLevelDesignChina

.design, .wiki Approved by MIIT of China

On January 23rd, Top Level Design’s .design and .wiki top-level domains (TLDs) received the official approval by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

This follows on about the one year anniversary of MIIT’s approval of Top Level Design’s .ink. In the intervening year, .ink has found an interested and growing market, especially at registrars like Alibaba’s HiChina and Chengdu West. In China, .ink is often interpreted as “INternet King.”

The Chinese government requires all TLDs to be certified by MIIT. Once approved, Chinese residents can register domains in the TLD and host domains in mainland China. As of January 23rd, all of Top Level Design’s TLDs have been officially approved in mainland China.

The .design TLD has great potential in the Chinese market. The word design is internationally associated with smart and luxury products, which certainly have large and increasing cultural appeal in China. Good design, associated with companies like Apple, are sought after and China is experiencing rising interest in thoughtful and well-designed products, web services, apps, and more.

Furthermore, the .design premium model means domains like and will soon be available on a first-come first-served basis via the registrar channel. This model has been hugely successful elsewhere, with over 20% of .design’s premium inventory registered in the first two years of operation. In fact, .design was on sale in China before current regulations required the approval process and during that time it was selling well, especially premium names, short domains, and potentially valuable names that were not designated as premium.

One of the most trafficked .design sites is, of Ant Financial, which is a part of the Alibaba Group and the most valuable fintech company in the world (formerly known as Alipay). The site is in both Mandarin and English and is a dynamic resource that lays out the design language used across Ant and Alibaba brands.

The .wiki TLD will be buoyed by the international association between wiki and authoritative information, such as that found on one of the world’s most trafficked site, Current, popular .wiki sites in Asia and China include a Korean Wikipedia style project, and the Chinese search engine. In both cases we see the sites being used as knowledge resources. Wiki sites are generally associated with wiki software, allowing for collaborative editing, but it is not a requirement of .wiki. There is interesting potential for the .wiki TLD in the large, Chinese market that does not readily use Wikipedia but is aware of its influence.

Top Level Design’s CEO, Ray King, welcomed the news, “We have been working diligently since MIIT regulations were put in place to deliver our TLDs to the Chinese market. During this time we heard repeatedly from end users in China that our domains are wanted there. We’re excited to finally deliver, and our team in both China and the U.S. are ready to serve our current and new Chinese users. This is an especially auspicious way to prepare for the year of the dog!”

Availability for .design and .wiki is forthcoming at China’s major registrars and implementation is already underway at many; current registrar partners can be found here. New registrar partners, business interests, and domain buyers can reach out to Top Level Design’s Chinese Market Coordinator, Kimberly Sheng (in Chinese or English).