Domaining Industry Fallacies – Red Herring

Posted on 28 February 2014 by Andrei

One of the most important debates when it comes to new gTLDs is without a doubt the “Will consumers accept them?” one and I’ve noticed that today’s fallacy (logical error) is quite common when it comes to this specific debate.

What’s the “red herring” fallacy all about?

Simply put, we’re dealing with a red herring when one of the parties involved in a debate tries to distract everyone’s attention to another topic rather than limit him or herself to analyzing the issue that is being discussed.

For example, if Person A thinks he isn’t able to present a strong enough case in favor of his arguments when it comes to Topic1, he will be tempted to shift everyone’s attention to a Topic2 he is more familiar/comfortable with. A lot of people do this during debates, often without realizing that they’re committing a logical error.

Let’s revert to the “Will consumers accept new gTLDs?” debate.

Now the thing is, nobody knows.

Time will tell and since we’re dealing with an unprecedented event due to the magnitude of change involved, it’s impossible to be 100% certain that one outcome rather than another will materialize.

That’s why red herrings tend to appear.

During such a debate, one of the two parties will be tempted to shift everyone’s attention to something he or she is more familiar with… the past or in other words, the previous gTLDs.

On the surface, it’s a reasonable enough approach.

After all, most consumers most likely don’t even know that gTLDs exist aside from let’s say dot com/net/org and that person’s local ccTLD if applicable.

Doesn’t this make it clear that the public’s answer to our “Will consumers accept new gTLDs?” question will be negative?

Well… no.

Maybe consumers will accept new gTLDs, maybe they won’t.

But nothing is clear, this much is certain.


Simply because we’re talking about something completely different in 2014.

Instead of a number of extensions that you can almost count using your hands+feet, almost 2,000 new gTLDs will be launched. That’s almost 100 new extensions for each existing extension and this is only round one!

We’ll have local extensions, generic extensions, brand extensions, you name it.

Combined, I’m sure you’ll agree that the likelihood of generating awareness for new gTLDs in general (because again, the question I asked is “Will consumers accept new gTLDs?” and not something else) is multiple orders of magnitude higher than the likelihood of just a few gTLDs (the previous ones) achieving the same result.

Again, maybe the answer to that question is positive, maybe it’s negative.

I don’t know, neither do you but this much is certain: arguments such as “Consumers won’t accept new gTLDs because past gTLDs didn’t generate all that much awareness.” make me think of one thing and one thing only: red herrings 🙂

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Fred and Wilma Says:

    Or, how about the argument that the ones introduced in 2001 have all already failed miserably?

    A crazy man is one who does the same mistake, each time hoping for a different result. Same chip, different dip. Total gtld failure ahead.

  2. Andrei Says:

    @Fred and Wilma: that’s precisely the argument I referred to throughout this post 🙂

    As far as the past is concerned, I agree that from an awareness perspective, the results have been poor: most consumers don’t even realize that other extensions aside from dot com/net/org and that person’s ccTLD (if applicable) exist.

    But our current situation is completely different because after just this first round, there will be almost 2,000 new gTLDs. Since we will be dealing with an overwhelming number of new gTLD launches, the situation cannot be compared to anything we’ve been through in the past and therefore, we are dealing with a red herring.