.Jobs Comment Period Closes Friday. Or Not

If you haven’t already offered your opinion on the future of .jobs, the Internet address extension designed for corporate career sites, better hurry. Friday might be your last chance.

Then again it may not be.

The Society for Human resource Management is collecting opinions on the wisdom of loosening the restrictions on what names can be linked to a .jobs Internet extension. In a May 8th email, SHRM’s Gary Rubin, point man for the group’s .jobs involvement, said the comment period would last “about three weeks.” The period opened May 11.

However, on the website set-up by DirectEmployers Association, key beneficiary of changing the rules, the association’s leader says: “The open comment period is open for 10 days only, through Friday, May 21st.”

Who’s right? I don’t know. The SHRM public comment page is silent on how long input will be accepted. I sent Rubin an email asking about the duration, and a few other questions, including why comments are not being made public, but haven’t gotten a response.

DirectEmployers is pitching hard for the change. Its launch last year of several dozen job boards was the catalyst for changing the rules.

The Dot Jobs Universe site has an eight-and-a-half minute video on the homepage talking about the virtues of allowing geographic or occupational or geo-occupational names. It espouses the DirectEmployers view of the events that began unfolding last year. The video doesn’t discuss the financial arrangements between DirectEmployers and Employ Media, the .jobs registrar, or its potential earnings from selling job posting enhancements.

What DirectEmployers calls a “beta test” was previously described by the organization and its executive director, Bill Warren, as a prelude to the launch of several thousand  — millions, DirectEmployers once boasted –more sites in February. In an interview with the Associated Press, Warren is reported as saying that 30,000 job sites would be launching by late March.

Even then however, Warren knew the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers was questioning the use of the non-corporate names. ICANN, the Internet’s addressing authority, had sent letters regarding the DirectEmployers’ sites and cited the review procedure that is required before changes to the operation can be made.

SHRM is involved because it sponsored the request to create .jobs in the first place. Technically known as a top-level domain, the extension won approval based on the application by  SHRM and its partner, Employ Media, that a .jobs appendage would provide an easy way for job seekers to find corporate career sites.

The arrangement finally approved by ICANN in 2005 was that .jobs addresses must use the name of the employer. Other naming conventions are not allowed.

But with sales of the .jobs addresses flat, and only 7,848 active (according to the last report), Employ Media, the operator of the business, wants to be able to sell a .jobs address using almost any name. Thus, last fall’s initial test launch of several dozen job sites.

The sites were all pulled down in February after ICANN got involved and insisted that the procedures detailed in its agreement with Employ Media be followed. Among the requirements is a public comment period and a review by a council of involved parties.

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