Web 3, also known as the next generation of the internet, is an exciting new technology that is transforming how we interact online. At the core of Web 3 is the concept of decentralization, with blockchain technology allowing the internet to shift away from large tech companies having control, and instead putting power back into the hands of users.
This opens up a wealth of possibilities but also comes with its challenges when it comes to things like domain names. As Web 3 continues to evolve and expand, Web 3 domains will play a crucial role in shaping the landscape of this new Internet era.
Web 3 domains are website domain names that are specifically suited for Web 3 and blockchain-based applications. While traditional domain name extensions like .com, .net, and .org are controlled by centralized bodies like ICANN, Web 3 domains aim to bring the benefits of decentralization, transparency, and user ownership to the naming system.
Some key things to know about Web 3 domains:
- They utilize blockchain technology and cryptography to enable a permissionless and censorship-resistant domain name system
- New web 3-specific top-level domain extensions are emerging, like .crypto, .nft, .dao, .coin and .blockchain
- Web 3 domains allow users to truly own and control their domains, rather than renting from a centralized authority
- Records are stored on blockchain ledgers in a transparent and verifiable manner
- Users can monetize their domains by integrating smart contracts and other Web 3 functionality
So in summary, Web 3 domains apply the core principles of decentralization to domain names and usher in an exciting new paradigm for websites.
The Web 3 domain landscape is rapidly evolving as new players enter the market and innovative approaches are tested. Here is a look at some notable happenings in the current Web 3 domain space:
One of the pioneering and most widely used Web 3 naming systems is Ethereum Name Service (ENS). ENS offers .eth domain names that point to resources stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Some key facts about ENS:
- Over 305,000 .eth domains have been registered
- Integrates with wallets like MetaMask to replace long cryptographic addresses with simple .eth names
- Recently launched integrations with DNS to bridge .eth names with the traditional web
- Uses a permanent registrar based on smart contracts, unlike the annual renewals required by ICANN
Unstoppable Domains is another major player in the Web 3 domain space. Key facts:
- Offers .crypto, .wallet, .x, .nft, and other domain extensions on blockchains like Ethereum, Polygon, and Zilliqa
- Over 2.3 million domains minted to date
- Domains are NFTs that users can truly own with no renewal fees
- Seamless integration with apps like MetaMask
- The goal of building a censorship-resistant domain system
Handshake takes a different approach than ENS and Unstoppable, seeking to replace the root Zone File of ICANN’s DNS system with a decentralized alternative.
- Uses peer-to-peer blockchain to allow users to register .hns domains
- Aims to be a DNS system compatible with current web
- HNS coins allow holders to write domains on the Handshake blockchain
- Over 400,000 .hns domains registered
So in summary, we are seeing innovative approaches to Web 3 naming from ENS, Unstoppable Domains, Handshake, and other players like Decentralized Identity Foundation. The variety of models being tested displays the active experimentation underway to determine optimal strategies.
Adopting Web 3 domains can provide several advantages over traditional domain names. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Censorship Resistance – Web 3 domains are controlled by the user rather than a central authority. This makes censorship of domains much more difficult.
- Ownership – Users have full ownership of their Web 3 domain, rather than renting it from a domain registrar. The domain can be held indefinitely with no renewal fees.
- Control – Users have granular control over their domains, and can easily transfer or update ownership. Domains can also be integrated directly with Web 3 wallets and apps.
- Transparency – Domain records are stored transparently on the blockchain rather than within opaque centralized servers. There is full transparency into any changes.
- Monetization – Web 3 domains can have smart contracts integrated directly into the NFT domain tokens. This unlocks options for monetization like redirect fees, ad revenue shares, etc.
- Interoperability – With standards like EIP-2544, Web 3 domains can interoperate across blockchain ecosystems for a seamless experience.
- Identity – Web 3 domains give users a persistent blockchain identity unaffected by password hacks or centralized account shutdowns.
So in summary, Web 3 domains place control back into users’ hands and open up new possibilities for censorship resistance, monetization, identity, and interoperability.
Web 3 domains are applicable across a variety of use cases spanning decentralized websites, blockchain gaming, identity management, cryptocurrency wallets, NFT galleries, and more. Some examples include:
- Websites – Rather than a traditional .com, sites can use .crypto or .nft domains. These integrate seamlessly with Web3 wallets while still being accessible on the normal web.
- Cryptocurrency Addresses – Wallet addresses like 0x123… can be replaced with a .eth name for easy transfers between wallets.
- NFT Collections – NFT creators and collectors can showcase their works at domains like mynftgallery. Ft.
- DAO Governance – Decentralized Autonomous Organizations can use .dao domains to identify their entities and facilitate coordination.
- Gaming – In-game identities and assets can leverage .x domains to create persistent Web3 profiles.
- Identity Management – Users can link profiles across Web2 and Web3 apps using a single Web3 domain identity.
- Redirects – Web 3 domains open up innovative redirect-based business models, like charging microfees for access.
The use cases leverage the benefits of ownership, monetization, and identity offered by Web 3 domains. Adoption is still early, but expect to see these roles rapidly expand as Web3 gains mainstream traction.
With many players entering the Web 3 domain space, how should someone go about evaluating the options to pick the right domain? Here are some key considerations:
- Blockchain Support – Which blockchains does the provider support? Assess cross-chain interoperability.
- Domain Extensions – Do they offer established extensions like .eth along with newer ones like .nft? More choice is better.
- Ease of Use – How easy is the domain to integrate with wallets, access through browsers, update records, etc…
- Pricing Model – Does it involve perpetual ownership or ongoing renewal fees? Be cautious of rent-seeking.
- Secondary Marketplaces – Can domains be resold via NFT marketplaces? What is the demand and liquidity?
- Adoption Traction – Look at user counts, integrations, funding levels, and community engagement to gauge adoption.
- Security Protections – Are adequate measures like multi-signature schemes in place to protect domain ownership?
By evaluating these dimensions, you can determine which Web 3 domain providers align best with your needs as the landscape evolves.
Web 3 domains are primed to provide the naming infrastructure for the next generation of the internet. By applying principles of decentralization, transparency, and ownership, they can overcome many of the shortcomings of traditional domains controlled by centralized bodies. In the early days, expect to see rapid innovation and experimentation in the Web 3 domain space as adoption accelerates. From websites to wallets, Web 3 domains look set to become the identifiers underpinning a more open, distributed, and user-controlled internet.