Dozens of job sites have stuck the boot into plans to effectively create tens of thousands of new employment boards under the .jobs internet top-level domain.
Employ Media, the company which manages the .jobs registry, has applied to ICANN to allow it to flog thousands of .jobs domain names to selected partners, leaving existing job sites fuming.
Scores of employers, job boards, industry groups and recruiters have emailed ICANN this week asking it to scupper Employ Media's plans, characterising the move as a land grab that disenfranchises any company not prepared to get into bed with the registry.
"I'm personally really offended and troubled by the process," said Steven Rothberg, chief executive of CollegeRecruiter.com, who has spearheaded the campaign against the .jobs changes. "It reeks of back-room dealings and a lack of openness and transparency."
The .jobs TLD was launched five years ago (really, it exists, try http://goto.jobs) but has been spectacularly unsuccessful in terms of volume, with only about 15,000 domains registered to date.
A key reason for the lack of interest is Employ Media's self-imposed rule that only employers may register, that they may only register domains in the format "companyname.jobs" and that they must agree to use the domain to list only their own job openings.
Now, the company wants to scrap that restriction, and has asked ICANN for the right to assign premium "non-companyname" domains to its partners and auction off the rest.
The firm has an agreement with the DirectEmployers Association to create thousands of new .jobs domains using generic dictionary words or place names, all of which would feed into a single portal managed by the DEA.
Under the plan, if you live in London, you would be able to find available local jobs by going to london.jobs. If you were a nurse, you would be able to find nursing jobs at nursing.jobs. The idea is outlined in more detail at http://universe.jobs.
Listing a position would be free, and sites would be supported by advertising, so unsurprisingly the idea has a fair few supporters among employers, including IBM and BT. But existing jobs sites think the way domains would be allocated is unfair.
"I would be directly and adversely affected because Employ Media and other organisations may be allowed to set up competing job boards, taking business and traffic from me, without me being offered the opportunity to buy that domain under the same terms," said CollegeRecruiter.com's Rothberg.
Employ Media did not respond to a request for comment. The proposal it filed with ICANN does allow it to also offer first-come, first-served registrations, like any other domain, but only after it has made deals to allocate premium names to its partners.
The ICANN public comment period on Employ Media's proposal, which ends today, has seen the most traffic of any such period since the proposal to launch a .xxx domain for porn sites attracted the ire of the American Christian Right a few months ago. ®