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Dot Org Registry Sold to an Investment Firm

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The non-profit organization that manages the dot ORG domain registry has been sold to a for-profit investment firm. Some are fearful that the cost of dot ORG domains will rise because the non-profit that manages the entire domain name system, ICANN, recently changed the rules to allow the owners of the dot ORG registry to raise the dot ORG domain name registrations.

The dot ORG domain name registry has traditionally been a part of a non-profit organization for the benefit of non-profit organizations.

Once the sale is finalized, the dot ORG domain registry will have been acquired by a for-profit organization.

How Did a For-Profit Gain Control of a Non-Profit?

ICANN ruled this year that the cost of .org domains will no longer be capped. This opened the door to raising the price of dot ORG domain registrations. Soon after, an investment firm purchased the registry.

The the non-profit Public Interest Registry (PIR) that manages the dot ORG domain registry was soon afterward sold to a for-profit private investment firm called Ethos Capital.

Ethos Capital is a newly formed company comprised of a former member of ICANN.

According to the recently created EthosCapital.com website, Nora Abusitta-Ouri, the “Chief Purpose Officer” at Ethos Capital, has held a number of positions at ICANN.

According to the Ethos Capital website:

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“Ms. Abusitta-Ouri has held a variety of positions at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including Senior Vice President, Development and Public Responsibility and Director of Engagement, International and Inter-Governmental Organizations.”

The founder of Ethos Capital is Erik Brooks, a former managing partner at Abry Partners.

Abry Partners is associated with Fadi Chehade, who was the CEO of ICANN from 2012 to 2016.

According to a report in The Register, Fadi Chehade left his CEO position at ICANN and soon after began working at Abry Partners, where the founder of Ethos Capital was previously a managing partner.

In 2018, Abry Partners had purchased an Internet Registry company named Donuts. The co-founder of Donuts left that company and became CEO of the Public Interest Registry, the non-profit that manages the dot ORG domain registry and approved of the sale of the non-profit to Ethos Capital.

Illustration showing people involved in the sale and purchase of the dot org registry

Illustration showing people involved in the sale and purchase of the dot org registry

According to the press release issued by the non-profit Internet Society, which sold PIR to Ethos Capital

“It …aligns Public Interest Registry with Ethos Capital, a strong strategic partner that understands the intricacies of the domain industry and has the expertise, experience and shared values to further advance the goals of .ORG into the future.”

The domain name of Ethos Capital appears to have been purchased at GoDaddy in August 2019.

Will Dot Org Registration Price Skyrocket?

Ethos Capital has the power to raise the cost of dot ORG domain names. It is unclear if the cost of dot org domains will increase.

According to the Internet Society’s press release, the transaction becomes final during the first quarter of 2020. So it may be that current dot ORG domain name registrants have until the first quarter of 2020 to register their dot ORG domains for up to ten years out in order to lock in current prices.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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