‘Redirecting’ a domain name is a way of making the same web page available through more than one URL. Instead of resolving to a web page bearing the same domain name, a redirect will forward web traffic to a different destination.
There are many reasons why a domain name registrant may want to redirect a domain, for example to channel all web traffic to a single, authoritative web site, rather than maintaining multiple instances of the same site.
In our research, we have tended to find a higher rate of redirects in IDNs than for traditional ASCII domain names. There is anecdotal evidence from the Russian ccTLD registry that domain registrants tend to use IDNs in advertising materials and then redirect to ASCII domains. If this is widespread, it would be a savvy user response to limitations in universal acceptance. Advertising materials highlight names which are readily memorised by users, as they are in a language and script that is understood. Meanwhile, the ASCII domain names continue to work more reliably in web browsers than their IDN counterparts.
Of the 1.2 million IDNs in our sample with active nameservers, we found that 23% were redirected to another site.