Domain Names and Company Name Retrieval
RFC 2345

Document Type RFC - Experimental (May 1998; No errata)
Was draft-klensin-tld-whois (individual)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                        J. Klensin
Request for Comments: 2345                                          MCI
Category: Experimental                                          T. Wolf
                                                       Dun & Bradstreet
                                                             G. Oglesby
                                                                    MCI
                                                               May 1998

                Domain Names and Company Name Retrieval

Status of this Memo

   This memo defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
   Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   Location of web information for particular companies based on their
   names has become an increasingly difficult problem as the Internet
   and the web grow.   The use of a naming convention and the domain
   name system (DNS) for that purpose has caused complications for the
   latter while not solving the problem.  While there have been several
   proposals to use contemporary, high-capability, directory service and
   search protocols to reduce the dependencies on DNS conventions, none
   of them have been significantly deployed.

   This document proposes a company name to URL mapping service based on
   the oldest and least complex of Internet directory protocols, whois,
   in order to explore whether an extremely simple and widely-deployed
   protocol can succeed where more complex and powerful options have
   failed or been excessively delayed.

1. Introduction and Context

   In recent months, there have been many discussions in various
   segments of the Internet community about "the top level domain
   problem".  Perhaps characteristically, that term is used by different
   groups to identify different, and perhaps nearly orthogonal, issues.
   Those issues include:

Klensin, et. al.              Experimental                      [Page 1]
RFC 2345        Domain Names and Company Name Retrieval         May 1998

   1.1.  A "domain administration policy" issue.

   1.2.  A "name ownership" issue, of which the trademark issue may
         constitute a special case.

   1.3.  An information location issue, specifically the problem of
         locating the appropriate domain, or information tied to a
         domain, for an entity given the name by which that entity is
         usually known.

   Of these, controversies about the first two may be inevitable
   consequences of the growth of the Internet.  There have been
   intermittent difficulties with top level domain adminstration and
   various attempts to use the domain registry function as a mechanism
   for control of service providers or services from time to time since
   a large number of such domains started being allocated.  Those
   problems led to the publication of the policy guidelines of
   [RFC1591].

   The third appears to be largely a consequence of the explosive growth
   of the World Wide Web and, in particular, the exposure of URL formats
   [URL] to the end user because no other mechanisms have been
   available.  The absence of an appropriate and adequately-deployed
   directory service has led to the assumption that it should be
   possible to locate the web pages for a company by use of a naming
   convention involving that company's name or product name, i.e., for
   the XYZ Company, a web page located at

        http://www.xyz.com/
   or
        http://www.xyz-company.com/

   has been assumed.

   However, as the network grows and as increasing numbers of web sites
   are rooted in domains other than ".COM", this convention becomes
   difficult to sustain: there will be too many organizations or
   companies with legitimate claims --perhaps in different lines of
   business or jurisdictions-- to the same short descriptive names.  For
   that reason, there has been a general sense in the community for
   several years that the solution to this information location problem
   lies, not in changes to the domain name system, but in some type of
   directory service.

   But such directory services have not come into being.  There has been
   ongoing controversy about choices of protocols and accessing
   mechanisms.  IETF has published specifications for several different
   directory and search protocols, including [WHOIS++], [RWHOIS],

Klensin, et. al.              Experimental                      [Page 2]
RFC 2345        Domain Names and Company Name Retrieval         May 1998

   [LDAP], [X500], [GOPHER].  One hypothesis about why this has not
   happened is that these mechanisms have been hard to select and deploy
   because they are much more complex than is necessary.  This document
   proposes an extremely simple alternative.
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