• Expansion of .jobs Charter Walks and Talks Like a Duck Even While Claiming It Isn’t a Duck

    September 01, 2010 by

    Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m opposed to the proposed expansion of the .jobs charter from what is currently allowed to what would be allowed. What is currently allowed is for Employ Media, the registrar, to help an employer such as Toyota funnel job seeker traffic to its career web site by registering and promoting Toyota.jobs. What Employ Media wants to do is expand that so that it may use secret criteria which may or may not change and may or many not be applied uniformly to create tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or perhaps even a million new geographic, occupational field, and other such domains such as NewYork.jobs, engineer.jobs, and diversity.jobs. In essence, Employ Media would be given the right to create the sandbox and decide who gets to play in it, for how long, and at what price. Those who are friends may get to play for longer and at a lower cost. Those who aren’t friends may be treated quite differently. And Employ Media may retain whichever domains it wishes for itself. In effect, Employ Media becomes both the registrar and the competitor.

    One of the key complaints against the proposed expansion of the .jobs charter is that Employ Media would create perhaps a million new job boards. A White Paper on Dot Jobs just published by Direct Employers Association executive director Bill Warren — one of the key driving forces behind the proposed expansion — addresses this concern in what I can only describe as double speak:

    [T]his is not a million job boards but rather one dynamic jobs platform, it will provide a single interface for posting jobs to niche, targeted locations. Automated job feeds and single postings will only be accepted from vetted employers and, when the .jobs TLD build‐out is complete, all jobs will automatically appear in the appropriate city, state, country, and occupational .jobs URLs. Job seekers will be able to enter a desired city, state, geographic region, country, or occupation plus .jobs (Atlanta.jobs, Georgia.jobs, etc.) in their browser for immediate access to relevant jobs.

    So if I understand Bill properly, they’re not creating a million job boards but one and that one job board will be accessible by perhaps a million different domain names such as NewYork.jobs, engineer.jobs, and diversity.jobs and each of those domain names will have different content which is targeted to its users so NewYork.jobs will contain only information about jobs in New York, engineer.jobs will contain information only about engineering jobs, and diversity.jobs will contain information only about jobs for diverse candidates. I’m sorry, but how is that not a million job boards? Oh, because underlying each of them is a common platform. In other words, one database and common software will drive all of them. Does anyone really think that 99 percent of the visitors to these sites will understand that? If there are a million domains with different content, that’s a million job boards regardless of any double speak to the contrary.

    Whether the underlying software is shared or unique to each board, they’ll function to the individual users as separate boards. And if they function as separate boards, then they are separate boards. Ever hear the expression that if something walks like a duck and talks like a duck then it must be a duck? Well folks, Employ Media and Direct Employers Association can call it what they wish, but this is a duck.

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  • Employ Media Publishes Evaluation Criteria for .Jobs Domains

    August 27, 2010 by

    I received an email earlier this afternoon from Ray Fassett of Employ Media to announce that they are now accepting proposals from organizations and people who wish to own a non-company name .jobs domain. The link to the Request for Proposal (RFP) form did not work for me so I replied back to Ray to tell him so and ask him to email the PDF to me. He replied back within minutes with a note saying the links on their web site worked for him and he included a link for me that worked.

    The domains which Employ Media is now marketing include geographic names (i.e., NewYork.jobs), occupational field names (i.e., engineering.jobs), and dictionary words (i.e., diversity.jobs). One of the key objections that I’ve had to this entire process has been the lack of openness and transparency by Employ Media and the other driving forces behind this expansion of the dot jobs charter: Direct Employers Association and Society for Human Resource Management. I’m disappointed but not terribly surprised to read in the PDF application form that the RFP process will be anything but open and transparent. Keep in mind that if you buy a .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, or just about any other type of domain you just head over to GoDaddy, Network Solutions, or any of thousands of other registrar sites, pull out your credit card, and buy the domain name. Anyone can buy any domain name and the process is completely open, transparent, and honest. Compare that to the evaluation process that Employ Media just announced:

    6.7.1 Employ Media reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to alter the schedule of proposal evaluation as it deems necessary or appropriate. Dates listed may be changed by posting on Employ Media’s Website without notice to any Applicant or prospective Applicant.

    6.7.2 Employ Media will assess Proposals by applicable criteria, including but not limited to the following criteria
    (i): quantity of Domains of Interest;
    (ii) community value, impact and investment;
    (iii) enhancement of the .JOBS brand;
    (iv) business plan, capability and sustainability;
    (v) technical and financial capabilities;
    (vi) general company (or team) information;
    (vii) compliance with the .JOBS Charter;
    (viii) compliance with any and all applicable policies, practices and business rules which govern .JOBS;
    (ix) compliance with all applicable ICANN requirements;
    (x) quality, innovation, choice and differentiation;
    (xi) the nature and strength of the applicant and/or any named partners, including historical business practices and further including historical activities and actions as such have related to the .JOBS sTLD, Employ Media, SHRM, ICANN, the Community and this request for proposal process, including Employ Media/ICANN contractual amendments and Employ Media/SHRM Policy Development Process amendments;
    (xii) the effect, if any, on the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”);
    (xiii) the ability of the proposal to deliver as set forth, including business and technical capabilities of any relevant parties,
    (xiv) willingness to work cooperatively with other applicants and third parties; and
    (xv) compliance with the terms of this request for proposals. Individual criteria may be given varying weight depending upon the nature of any given Proposal.

    In any given instance, one or more of the criteria listed above may be dispositive in terms of Employ Media’s evaluation of a Proposal, but need not be so. Employ Media may, in its sole discretion, choose to ignore or decrease in importance, or increase in importance, one or more of the criteria listed above, and Employ Media may do so on a proposal-by-proposal basis.

    You also must agree to negotiate with them, they can reject your application for any reason, they can for any reason pull the domain from you after you go live even if you’ve managed to build it into something valuable, you must indemnify them if they’re sued for anything related to your domain, and they can do whatever they want with any information they collect from you including publish on the Internet the financial statements and business plan that they’re requiring you to provide.

    Okay, so let’s say you can live with all of that and you still decide to proceed. What’s the cost? Who knows? Your application will cost you $250 and that’s non-refundable. They don’t even have to consider it. They can just pocket your money and tell you to buzz off. But let’s say they do cash your check (no credit cards!!) and give you the positive news that they are willing to temporarily lend to you one of the domains (remember they can pull it back whenever they want). How much will the domain cost? Who knows? You need to tell them how much you’re willing to pay. Maybe that’s where revenue share comes into play. If you have big plans and they are convinced that you can properly execute, it seems to me that they’re going to be far more likely to approve your proposal if you promise to pay them even one percent of your revenues than if someone with a plan which is equally as good and is equally as likely to executive promises to pay them dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.

    Wow. What chutzpah! (defined: Yiddish for unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity)

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  • Open Letter to Ray Fassett of Employ Media Regarding Revenue Share for Dot Jobs Domains

    August 20, 2010 by

    Dear Mr. Fassett,

    Thank you again for your “courtesy call” yesterday in which you asked me to retract the portion of my comment at the Wall Street Journal web site and CollegeRecruiter.com Blog in which I wrote, “Ray Fassett of Employ Media has been asking job boards for revenue shares for the domains.”

    Although it was difficult for me to understand what the courtesy call was regarding as you seemed reluctant to directly state your concern and instead seemed to want me to identify for you what was of concern to you, I ended up understanding that you wanted me to retract that statement and if I didn’t that Employ Media would take legal action against either CollegeRecruiter.com, me, or both. After ending our call, I considered the issue and essentially reminded myself that my primary concern wasn’t about the revenue share and that I didn’t want that to distract Employ Media, CollegeRecruiter.com, or any other entity from the crux of the matter. In addition, I had no written documentation to substantiate the revenue share statement. As a result of both factors, I retracted the statement both on the Wall Street Journal site as well as on CollegeRecruiter.com.

    Two job boards later posted comments to CollegeRecruiter.com Blog indicating that they did have a revenue sharing discussion with you. One of the two comments unequivocally indicates that you raised the revenue share option. The other comment generally supports the first but does not directly indicate whether the option of a revenue share was raised first by you or the representative of the second job board.

    I’m hoping that you will choose to participate in an open, honest, and transparent manner by posting a comment on CollegeRecruiter.com Blog regarding Employ Media’s requests for a share of the revenue from job boards or other organizations who seek to own a dot jobs domain. I suspect that you’ve made no such requests of direct employers as that wouldn’t be consistent with their model — they don’t make money by hiring people. But given the statements of the two job board owners, I think that seeing your response would be helpful to the job board, staffing, association, newspaper, recruiter, and members of other communities who object to Employ Media’s plans for dot jobs.

    Clearly the two job board owners on one side of the discussion and you on the other can’t all be correct regarding the issue of whether you requested a share of revenues from them should they wish to obtain a .jobs domain. You ended up being pretty clear with me yesterday in our call that no one from Employ Media, including you, had ever requested a revenue share from anyone in return for a .jobs domain. I’m hoping that you can explain your perspective on this issue to my readers and me.

    Sincerely,

    Steven Rothberg
    President and Founder
    CollegeRecruiter.com

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  • Wall Street Journal covers the dot jobs domain scandal

    August 19, 2010 by

    For employment and now small business writer Sarah Needleman penned an article for today’s Wall Street Journal that does a pretty good job of summarizing the scandal launched by Employ Media, Direct Employers Association, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) last year when they tried to expand who could use the top level domain .jobs and for what purpose. ICANN, the international governing body for domain names, created .jobs five years ago after SHRM promised to be the watch dog and ensure that only employers purchased and used the domains and only to promote their own jobs, so you’d have toyota.jobs to promote Toyota’s jobs but you wouldn’t have Monster.jobs to drive job seekers to Monster’s job board.

    As Sarah’s article did a good job of pointing out, all of that may now be changing if Employ Media gets its way. ICANN approved the request to expand the charter, apparently paving the way for Employ Media to create tens and probably hundreds of thousands of new domains such as diversity.jobs, great.jobs, newyork.jobs and many, many, many more. What’s the problem with that, you say? Isn’t this just job boards whining about more competition? Well, for some job board owners that’s all this is but they’re missing the point as is anyone else who thinks that’s the issue. The issue is the process this has followed has been fundamentally flawed and has lacked openness and transparency. If you want to buy just about any domain, you can go to a registrar like GoDaddy or Network Solutions, pull out your credit card, and buy it. You know that they won’t keep the best ones for themselves or their friends and they won’t ask you for a share of the revenues generated from the domain. If Employ Media gets its way, it will apparently keep the best domains for itself and its friends and it has already approached job board owners to request a share of revenues if Employ Media grants their request for their .jobs domain name.

    Remember that ICANN approved the creation of .jobs to allow employers to drive traffic to their own career pages and SHRM was to act as the watch dog. Sarah’s story unfortunately mischaracterized that when it stated that SHRM was supposed to ensure that the users of the dot jobs domains are in the “job-site realm.” That’s not correct. That would mean that job boards and perhaps also staffing companies, third party recruiters, etc. could purchase .jobs domains to drive candidates to their job sites. The dot jobs charter which was awarded by ICANN five years expressly forbids that and limits the use of the dot jobs top level domain only to employers. So Toyota can (and has) purchased toyota.jobs to drive job seekers to its own career section but Employ Media has been forbidden to sell domains such as CollegeRecruiter.jobs if we were to use that to drive candidates to our job board. In other words, you can promote your own openings with your own dot jobs, but not the openings of other organizations. So job boards have not been able to buy dot jobs domains.

    What Employ Media is trying to do is continue to be the registrar by being the organization that decides who gets what domain and at what price (Ray Fassett of Employ Media has been asking job boards for revenue shares for the domains) and also the owner of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of job boards that it creates. Yes, there’s now an RFP process, but no one outside of Employ Media seems to know the criteria that will be used to determine who gets what domain and at what price.

    Follow-up note from 12:20pm — Ray Fassett just called and said he was making a “courtesy call” to tell me that if I didn’t retract the revenue share statement that Employ Media would take legal action against me. I don’t have written proof of that and whether Employ Media has or will ask for revenue shares or not isn’t really the point. So, Ray, consider the statement retracted. I have no desire to get into a legal battle with you or anyone else at Employ Media. We can agree to disagree on the merits of what Employ Media wants to do with .jobs and not make our lawyers wealthier in the process.

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