Awareness of IDNs still low among Chinese users, reports Universal Acceptance Ambassador

Walter Wu is an Universal Acceptance Ambassador for China, as part of the Universal Acceptance steering group. The Ambassador Program draws together industry leaders who use their expertise and experience to support localised initiatives for improving Universal Acceptance. Wu spoke to the World Report team about his role.

1.     You are the co-founder and president of Internet DotTrademark Organisation Limited – responsible for the registry of .商标 (‘Shang Biao’ = ‘trademark’). What impact does a lack of Universal Acceptance (UA) for IDNs have on your business?

As the registry operator of the Chinese IDN .商标, we care about the user experience of IDNs on web browsers, email services and search engines. If IDNs are not supported well on such applications or services, enterprise users will not use or promote their IDN. Domain names are very important for enterprises. Without the trust of customers, IDNs are very difficult to promote.

2.     When you talk to businesses, governments or community groups, what messages seem to resonate best with them when discussing universal acceptance?

My work focuses on the Universal Acceptance of Chinese IDNs. I tend to emphasize the social value of Chinese IDNs. Internet users in China may explore the Internet using their mother tongue, which is more convenient and comfortable. When discussing the next billion Internet users, Chinese IDNs may help older generations to start using the Internet. To companies and organizations in China, as their names or brands are mostly in Chinese, using a Chinese IDN is the best way to promote themselves on the Internet. I also tell them about the ICANN new gTLD program and that Chinese IDN gTLDs have entered the root zone, just like legacy TLDs.

3.     You are the UA Ambassador for China – what local initiatives have you been undertaking, and how do these help improve universal acceptance?

The Chinese Domain Names Initiative (CDNI) was founded in Beijing on Jan. 9, 2020, and serves as the UASG China Local Initiative. Myself and the other two UA Ambassadors in China work closely with CDNI to promote the UA of Chinese IDNs. CDNI was initiated by Internet Society of China (ISC) and co-founded by 28 organizations & companies, including leading IT companies in China, registry operators and registrars, industry associations and research institutes. Because of my work in the .商标 registry, I also have opportunities to promote Chinese IDNs, and UA among the community of trademark owners and other intellectual property rights holders.

4.     You’ve done work recently with Sogou and Baidu – these are some of the biggest internet companies in China – how is their support of IDNs? What suggestions have been made to improve their support of UA?

Yes, the co-founders of CDNI visited Sogou and Baidu early this year. The two companies both develop products such as web browsers, search engines and apps. We found some resolution issues on their mobile browsers, and noticed that Chinese IDNs suffer more issues in their search engines than ASCII domain names. CDNI recommended that the companies obtain the latest delegated TLD list from IANA to solve the resolution issues, and to identify IDNs and take the full domain names as keywords, so as to optimize their user experience when searching IDNs. Their response was positive, and they agreed to improve their products according to these suggestions.

5.     During your outreach activities, did you feel there was much awareness of universal acceptance issues? How are companies currently coping with the limitations of universal acceptance?

We found that most Internet users in China, including employees of some large companies were not aware of new gTLDs or IDNs. They did not know that Chinese IDNs are practicable, and many did not know what Universal Acceptance is. The general attitude surrounding UA promotion is to talk to tech companies and developers. However, developers’ work direction is usually determined by the market demand. In my opinion, the more important thing to do is to talk to IDN registrants and teach them about the value of IDNs to their businesses. Only when they start to use and advertise their IDNs will Internet users start to type IDNs in browsers. And this will motivate developers to pay more attention to Universal Acceptance.