With the web 3.0 rave in the past few years, quite a number of domain name systems have emerged, all claiming to align with the decentralization goal of web 3.0. However, many of these networks have been unable to achieve this feat, even though many think they do. Unstoppable domain is one of such domains. The domain naming system was established in 2018 with loads of promises and the potential to achieve decentralization at full length.
However, it has not been able to do so, even though the network’s founders claim it is making positive strides towards the web 3.0 goal of decentralization. The truth is, so far, the system has proven to be another form of a centralized system disguised under the camouflage of blockchain technology.
What is an unstoppable domain?
Unstoppable domains are web addresses that can be linked to blockchains. Its primary purpose is to provide a solution to the complication that comes with the complexity of crypto addresses by connecting them to readable ones. The network was first launched in 2018 and aimed to create a system that simplifies crypto peer-to-peer transactions.
So far, the system has been generally seen as a means to tackle the problem of misspelling crypto wallet addresses due to the complex nature of alphanumeric addresses. This is because, with an unstoppable domain, you can replace the complex alphanumeric crypto address with personalized readable ones. As a result, the need to know a recipient’s long string of crypto addresses when making a crypto transaction is removed, making peer-to-peer crypto transfers much easier and more accessible.
However, according to the founder of this network, Unstoppable Domains has been created not only to solve the problem of complex crypto addresses but also to create a decentralized internet. That is, Unstoppable Domain can also be used to develop decentralized websites and therefore serve as a significant step into web3. However, Unstoppable domain has not been effective enough in fulfilling the ultimate decentralization theme of Web 3.0 because it cannot guarantee a completely decentralized website.
The point is, to effectively decentralize the internet, a network will have to function at the highest level of the domain system, just like ICANN, which is currently in charge of the domain root server and issuance of top-level domains. Unstoppable domain currently does not function at this level. Instead, it issues second-level domains to its users, which do not grant users decentralization because it is still a level below the centralized ICANN system. In fact, it is safe to say that the unstoppable domain system is just another form of ICANN because it hasn’t improved the existing ICANN centralized network in the domain name system niche.
One can almost say that the system is a low-budget ICANN network because instead of serving as a decentralized network which is an improvement to the ICANN system, it has so far delivered less compared to ICANN’s services. One major reason for their underperformance has been that they cannot issue top-level domains. They only issue second-level domains, which do not give users complete autonomy, security or anonymity.
What’s the significance of Top-level domains in the domain name system
Top-level domains are also known as domain extensions. It is the last segment of a domain name or the part that follows immediately after the “dot” symbol. For example, in “Google.com”, the domain name is “google” while the TLD is “.com”. To fully understand the significance of a TLD, you must first understand how the domain system works.
How the domain system works
Each device that connects to the internet has its own Internet Protocol (IP) address. Before the emergence of the domain name system, web users had to know the numerical IP address of a website to be able to access it. However, because of the complexity of these addresses, it was replaced with domain names, which simplified web access.
The internet protocol system is, however, not totally removed; it was just improved by linking the IP addresses to a unique domain name. In fact, every device that connects to the internet has an IP address. These IP addresses function for network or host identification and computer terminal location to locate and communicate with another computer, connect to the web, facilitate communication, and make sending or requesting information easier.
For the system’s proper functioning, there is a domain database that lists and links all domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. In the centralized web, ICANN manages this root server. Therefore, when a user searches for a website, the search filters hierarchically through the domain recursor, the root name server, the top-level domain name server and the authoritative name server. A top-level domain (TLD) is the highest level in this hierarchical Domain Name System, which functions mainly to help further distinguish and categorize domains.
Therefore to create a decentralized system that is free from ICANN’s governance, there is a need for a system that decentralizes this root server and issues Top-level domains. So far, the only decentralized naming network that does this is Handshake domains. Unstoppable domain does not decentralize the root server or issue TLDs. Therefore, it is safe to say that the system is far from actualizing the web 3.0 dream of a decentralized internet. Let’s discuss some other drawbacks of the system.
Disadvantages of Unstoppable Domains
There are quite a number of drawbacks associated with the Unstoppable domain name system. Some of these drawbacks result from its ineffectiveness in establishing a completely decentralized web. Some of it is also due to the fact that the system is still new, and many people cannot access it yet due to the gap in knowledge, awareness and available resources.
The system has not even gained sufficient acceptance in the crypto world, let alone among the average internet users who do not have any basic understanding of the relevance of decentralization or its benefits. Perhaps subsequent upgrades in the system can earn it a little more recognition. Let us check out some of the disabilities of the system.
The fact that the system is still new, and not so many people, especially outside the crypto community, is aware of its relevance or how it works is already an issue. Now, having a system that cannot yet be accessible to all browsers brings an extra challenge. It also does not use a simple domain resolver as in the case of decentralized domain systems like Handshake, which also makes access more difficult.
However, quite a few browsers can access unstoppable domains like the brave browser. It is not as common as a browser like chrome, so many people are also not familiar with it yet.
You need specific hosting for it
You will need a specific hosting service to host a website using an Unstoppable Domain. Particularly a hosting service that uses Interplanetary File System (IPFS). Although conceivable, the alternatives are limited compared to standard web hosting.
Functions primarily for cryptocurrency
Unstoppable domains bring a means to simplify complex crypto addresses, which it does pretty well and is widely known for. However, although the founders believed that the domain can be used as a tool for creating a decentralized web system through its crypto domains, it is not entirely effective in this line. This is because it does not completely take on ICANN’s role, so it’s not a challenge to the centralized ICANN system.
The anonymity myth
Although the system claims to provide its users with complete anonymity, in the real sense, it doesn’t. They have a way of obtaining users’ information while registering for their network.
Several decentralized domain systems like Unstoppable have emerged in the past few years, posing as decentralized protocols. However, the lapses in their systems have kept them from achieving decentralization at full length.