Experimental Numeric TLD, .42 Launches Without ICANN Approval

By on February 4, 2011

A group of engineers is pushing forward with an idea to create the experience of an open internet, supporting free information and free software. Their project, the 42 Experiment, is a non-profit group attempting to manage and promote .42, a private top-level domain (TLD). This new domain extension has not been endorsed by ICANN. The group understands the risks involved, but will continue to promote the TLD as a private community experiment.

The number itself was inspired by Douglas Adam’s classic novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which 42 turns out to be the meaning of life. It is a number many geeks will instantly recognize. 42 is meant to convey that this TLD is different and unique from all others. Previously no other domain extensions have been numeric.

There are a tremendous number of hurdles that stand in the way of .42 becoming truly public and fully functional as a true TLD. I commend the group for recognizing and aiming to tackle each obstacle that stands in the way of the TLD’s widespread adoption.

How To Resolve .42 Domains

To get this new TLD to work properly, you must configure your router DNS settings to be able to resolve the new addresses. Additionally, Windows users may need to modify a registry value in order for .42 domains to resolve. There may also be conflicts for certain browsers, but work-arounds are emerging quickly.

Several OpenResolver providers have made it fairly simple to access .42 domains by simply modifying the DNS settings of your router.

The goal of the experiment is to make the technical processes easy to overcome for the public. The 42Experiment Wiki has been created to educate and explain all aspects of involvement with the domain and there is a great FAQ on the 42Registry homepage (French).

How To Register a .42 Domain

The 42 Registry offers a single .42 domain name to each registered community member.
You can sign up here to join and apply for a domain. Each request will be approved manually by moderators. There are significant technical challenges involved with hosting and managing a .42 domain. Server configurations and mail clients need tweaking in order to handle the numeric TLD.

There are already a select number of .42 compatible web hosts who have shown support for the experimental TLD.

Can .42 Reach a Wide Audience?

Free software enthusiasts are not in short supply, you are likely a fan yourself. It is important to note that this reference is to open-source code and software packages, not to be confused with “warez,” which is essentially stolen software. So, I believe the concept of the project is admirable. Freedom of information and a connected world are the basis on which the Internet was founded upon. Recent events in Canada (rate limiting) and Egypt (blackouts) have caused many to question if governments are the best entity to manage the Internet.

The 42 Experiment needs to continue progress in simplifying the processes for resolving, registering and hosting domains. It’s not hard to imagine that this will soon be as simple as installing a browser addon. At that point, I think this private TLD could take off as a viable free domain for geeks and free software enthusiasts.

The community needs to grow to help spread the word and additional partnerships need to be formed with ISPs, DNS providers and web hosts. If the people behind 42 Experiment are able to reach popular DNS service providers such as OpenDNS, they have the potential to expand the reach of the TLD tremendously.

What are your thoughts on .42? Could it become a trend for hackers and the PC savvy? Will it be stomped out by ICANN and other powers that be? Please leave a comment below and consider sharing this article to spread the word about the 42 Experiment.

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About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.