The hidden face of decentralized domain names


Decentralization is exciting. To make the headlines, even. After all, in a world of sky-high and rising frustration levels, it shouldn’t come as a shock that many people are ready to embrace what we might call “anti-system solutions.” Decentralized solutions, in our case, that come with the ambitious promise of delivering everything their centralized counterpart can provide, but without centralized points of failure or regulations. In our previous article, we listed several advantages associated with decentralized domain names. Unfortunately, when it comes to domain brokerage websites, there is a world between promising and actually delivering, especially when aiming to replace the status quo domain name system, which has had the network effect in. his favor for long periods of time. . A certain sober pragmatism is therefore required.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of decentralized domain names:

1) The fact that having a working solution is not enough – convincing enough people to use it will be a truly Herculean task. In theory, everything looks pretty straightforward, with something like installing a browser extension or using decentralized friendly browsers like Brave being more than enough to expose yourself to the new world of decentralized domain names. . Unfortunately, we have quite a few precedents involving such solutions not being adopted to a sufficient degree to end up in critical mass territory – examples of both centralized and decentralized.

The most (un) famous example involving a centralized alternative to DNS was represented by New.net. To put it simply, all you had to do was install the NewDotNet browser plugin to be able to access sites that used these domain names. It was an alternative DNS but managed centrally. Unfortunately, from the lack of momentum issues to malware fears / issues as well as a legal mess, things didn’t exactly work out for New.net, which essentially shut down as of 2012. .

On the decentralized alternative front, we have the NameCoin example, which was mentioned in our previous article. NameCoin is a more than ambitious value proposition for the world’s first altcoin, but significant adoption was nowhere to be found. With the issue of “significant adoption” still pressing in the cryptocurrency world, where advancements in speculation still overshadow advancements in dimensions such as commercial adoption.

2) Truly decentralized solutions are rare despite the fact that there are over 11,000 cryptocurrencies at the time of writing. A weightlifter may be called a ballet dancer, but that doesn’t mean they can actually perform. Likewise, anything that is blockchain-based and is called decentralized is not really decentralized.

As an extreme example, anyone can easily launch a 100% pre-mine cryptocurrency these days, and call it said decentralized cryptocurrency. But considering the fact that the person who started it is one hundred percent in control of the offering, how far should it really be considered decentralized? Being blockchain-based and surrounded by buzzwords isn’t enough to be truly decentralized. Even Bitcoin itself struggles with pockets of centralization in areas such as mining.

So, it would be wise not to assume that there is no centralized point of failure just because one entity or another is putting blockchain-based solutions on the table. There is no benefit in eliminating a registrar or registry operator as a centralized point of failure if other (less than obvious) points of failure eventually replace them. Whether it’s domain names or whatever, don’t take claims of decentralization at face value.

3) Total freedom comes at a price, and many people are too quick to respond that they would be willing to pay it. For example, it’s easy enough to say that you would be willing to pay whatever the cost of true immutability. With the potential to post something, no one can ever suppress the real game-changer. But what if the most unethical market players use this freedom to post child pornography? Or content that encourages hate crimes?

Even if you aren’t concerned about the behavior of other users, a decentralized domain name protocol that facilitates child abuse material or hate crimes would inevitably end up on law enforcement’s radar everywhere. jurisdictions. One potential outcome would be that legitimate users of the distributed protocol would find themselves essentially suspect. This kind of burden could discourage adoption of the protocol.

4) Significant decentralization does not come cheap. There is a reason that Bitcoin transactions sometimes end up being quite expensive, prohibitively expensive for smaller amounts. Or why gas fees on Ethereum sometimes reach scandalous values, the same principle being valid for any blockchain where two conditions are met, being truly decentralized on the one hand and widely used on the other.

Projects claiming to have less transactional overhead than Bitcoin appear extremely frequently. But what they often (almost always) forget to mention is that transactions are very cheap either because we are not dealing with significant decentralization or because the blockchain in question is little used (with consequences related to the costs that appear as soon as this changes, if this is still the case). The promises of true decentralization at rock-bottom prices should raise eyebrows informed market players Developers around the world are aware that these drawbacks of decentralized domain names exist and are working on solutions, such as community mechanisms that allow to eliminate bad actors, among other approaches. The bottom line is this: As promising as decentralized domain names are, it would be premature to (again) predict the death of the “traditional” domain name system. While nothing in this world is impossible, such results should be considered extremely unlikely at this point in the game. For a dimension as new as the decentralized domain name, setting more reasonable goals for yourself like acting as a credible alternative to the domain name. status quo DNS would be a much more realistic approach… for now.


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