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Friday, November 17, 2006

Assembly to support DotCym campaign

The Assembly's House Committee has voted to support the campaign to get DotCym accepted as a Top Level Domain so as to enhance Welsh culture and identity on the world wide web. It would mean that organisations, companies and individuals would have the option to replace .uk with .cym.

The Committee met last week to consider the matter and supported my plea to back the campaign. As is made clear in the Assembly's press release and in this article, the Presiding Officer is fully behind the move:

The Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said: I believe that a dotcym sponsored top level domain could play an important role in promoting Welsh culture and language in the UK and abroad. As well as Welsh language sites it could also be used for sites in another language which are of Welsh interest. Since .cat has been introduced as a TLD in Catalonia, there has been an increase of 33% in the number of sites using Catalan, so it would it seem that the adoption of .cym would be an effective way of promoting the Welsh language and Welsh identity. It would also be a part of the democratisation of the web."

Details of the campaign can be found here.
I think it's an excellent idea to have a domain name for Welsh on the internet, as distinct from a domain name for Wales. ccTLDs are for independent nations and Wales is not independent.

.cym for Welsh is a really good idea; it should make finding Welsh-language sites much easier.

I hope that a good process will be adopted that will enable people with a gTLD (.com) or ccTLD (.uk) that contains significant Welsh-language content to get a .cym domain easily and inexpensively - for instance google should be able to get google.cym for their welsh-language search system.
I think the idea is also to use it for English Language sites about Wales as well.
The majority language of Wales is English. Most Welsh people speak English, not Welsh, despite the long-inflicted compulsory education in Welsh.

So why would a Wales domain use a reference to the Welsh language?

You AMs are pussyfooting around this issue because you have to pander to the Nationalist vote, I think.
The rules on domain creation would specifically prohibit the creation of a domain for a country that does not have an ISO country code. Wales does not have an ISO country code and there is no serious prospect of it ever having one.

The counter-proposal is that for languages that don't have a country, like Catalan, Welsh and Breton, it would be sensible to bring all the various sites in that language together under one domain. .cat for Catalan has already been created and that's what the .cym proposal is matching.

Using it for English-language sites about Wales will get you in trouble with ICANN - they do not want to get into a situation where every single sub-state unit gets their own TLD (imagine every state in the USA, every Land in Germany, etc - 140-odd ccTLDs is enough). Clearly there are some exceptional cases, and having a domain for a language that doesn't have a state is one of those, but can you imagine the trouble they'd have if they got an application for a Kashmir domain, or a Palestine domain, or a Kurdistan domain?

That's far too informed for the Assembly, which prefers empty gestures and posturing.
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