With a Machiavellian approach to acquiring Internet domains, .Jobs fancies itself the uber-job board of the 21st century.
At least, this is how the .Jobs Charter Compliance Coalition sees it.
In a June 23 webinar titled “The .Jobs Expansion A Threat to Staffing Firms,” the possibility of Internet job board domination was discussed by Pete Weddle, executive director at the International Association of Employment Web Sites.
Employ Media created the sponsored top-level domain .Jobs for human resources management, after it received a charter in 2005 from the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers. After five years without much success, they inked a deal with the DirectEmployers Association to create Universe.jobs, turning it into an employment services site.
“Any employer in the U.S. could post a job on any of these addresses for free,” Weddle said. “It was saying, ‘We now have an alternative to you having to pay for the services of a job board or staffing firms.”
Already, Weddle said, it is impacting some job boards.
NativeAmericanJobs.com was operating for 10 years, he said, and suddenly another company scooped up the license for a .Jobs name. NativeAmericanJobs.com was knocked off its ranking on Google, Weddle explained, as the other one rose above it.
“Mind you, Universe.jobs just launched a couple months ago,” Weddle said. “But already, they are figuring higher in national search results. We don’t want this to become a crisis before we address it.”
IAWES formed the .Jobs Charter Compliance Coalition over a year ago “to prevent Employ Media from launching this expansion.”
Weddle said that they developed a legal brief for ICANN Board that showed why they oppose the expansion, which generated a large letter-writing campaign.
“Employ Media couldn’t simply expand the charter willy-nilly,” Weddle said the coalition told ICANN.
ICANN had initially approved Employ Media's expansion proposal, but in February changed its mind. This could be due to the strong evidence in opposition from the coalition or of their own accord. Whatever the cause, they issued a forcefully worded notice that Employ Media breached its agreement by operating independent job boards, which is inconsistent with the contract.
“That was only the second breach notice in the history of ICANN,” Weddle said.
- Failed to operate and manage .Jobs consistently with the charter
- Created Universe.jobs under false promises and to serve only the financial interests of Employ Media and the DirectEmployers Association
- Failure to establish meaningful registration restrictions
Employ Media was threatened with loss of its contract with ICANN if they failed to cure the breach within a timely manner, of 30 days.
They pretended not to listen.
Instead, the registrar called for arbitration, accusing ICANN of changing its mind mid-course. They gave ICANN the eff-you by continuing to launch new Universe.jobs addresses and building the brand.
ICANN wussed out in April and delayed enforcement of the breach notice, which caused heavy disappointment to the coalition. Meanwhile, ICANN continued to launch new gTLDs.
Weddle surmises that Employ Media asked for an extension on the breach, as they claim they had permission to proceed with the expansion in the first place.
“What we are doing today is watching ICANN and Employ Media to see what is playing out,” he said. “The threat is real, and it continues.”
“It’s a matter of principles,” he said. “We all conduct business according to the same set of rules. We don’t want the precedent to be set that an organization can come along with change the rules for their own benefit.”
Unfortunately, the only way to get involved is by contacting Weddle at firstname.lastname@example.org, or coalition Chair John Bell, at email@example.com.
When they started opposition over a year ago, they decided to focus on the legal aspects only, forgoing any social media efforts. There isn't a direct website for the coalition, either.
Now, they’re screwed because they don’t have any other way to put out information, hence the webinar.
“We don’t have those tools, I’m embarrassed to admit,” Weddle said.
Nevertheless, Weddle is urging people to join the coalition, write to ICANN’s CEO, alert all staffing firms and signal their concerns to the ASA. The more people are involved, the more ICANN will stick to its guns, Weddle said.