ENS Domains: The Awakening of the Beast
— By Jad El Kattar
In this blog, I will be highlighting the incredible bull case for ENS and decentralized identities, subdomains, and naming standards. I’ll also be shining some light on the difference between ENS and other ‘competitors’ such as UD, HNS, and WNS.
Let me start by expressing my obvious bias towards ENS domains by saying that I strongly believe that ENS is a decentralized naming PROTOCOL and not just a naming service. I do not own any domain from the other services named above.
On your name services journey, you will hear a lot of criticisms when it comes to ENS domains, and one of the main ones is that you do not actually own your names and that leasing domain names are two bad ideas. Here’s where the issue happens, I believe that this is an argument made in bad faith.
Owning your domains for life might sure sound like a great idea, who wouldn’t want to pay a one-time fee and purchase their domains forever? Well, let me say that this is a bad idea. The problem is that domains in the form of NFTs are static. I sure can understand that all of this seems like BS to you right now, but I’m pretty sure you’re not seeing the issue yet.
Like all self-custodial assets, especially blockchain assets, if you lose your keys, then you have effectively lost your assets. Forever. And yes, I doubt any of you would like to lose his domain name forever, which is true for the ENS protocol to some extent. However, since the “.eth” of the ENS protocol is controlled by a decentralized smart contract out there on the Ethereum chain, we are able to reliable lease these domains in a trustless manner. This solves a whole lot of issues and boosts decentralization. It also ensures that “premium” domain names can re-enter the ecosystem formed. (‘Premium names’ stands for names formed of 3 to 4 letters that have an actual meaning). Imagine having a few names lost forever collecting dust here and there on the blockchain. That would be a big blow for a naming ecosystem looking to thrive steadily into the future.
“ENS ensures decentralization at the protocol level while future-proofing itself for the centuries to come.” Yes, it does. You might get confused by this, but let me explain.
ENS ‘competitors’ such as UD, HNS, and WNS (those I previously mentioned) ‘solve’ this issue by allowing the user to create multiple top-level domains (TLDs). Let’s take the example of jad.crypto, jad.x, jad.nft, … Being able to create as many TLDs as I want may seem cool and empowering, but when you dive into it, you realize the moment this becomes a global trend, then we would have effectively shifted the entire system to the worst. How so? Well, imagine you wanted to send funds to jad.nft, but this domain exists on all the naming services I’ve already mentioned above. Where would your funds go in this scenario? With ENS which provides one and only TLDs (.eth), all of this wouldn't be an issue, since your .eth domains would only reside on the Ethereum blockchain, which is in fact a very, very reliable source of information, building a great single-source of truth for its domains.
For the past two decades, ICANN & DNS have filled the need for a global naming standard. Multiple billions of dollars sit atop the .com TLD. However, I believe the global naming standard must merge to bring together the legacy and decentralized for the hybridization of the two.
Thankfully, ENS & DNS are fully compatible with one another. Their integration has been live on the Ethereum mainnet for over 6 months now. You can always read here for more details.
During the next round of auctions on the TLDs “.crypto”, “.nft”, “.blockchain”, it is suspected that every single huge crypto company will be FOMOing to secure them, as the aspect of web3 domain names keeps growing.
Let’s say that UD fails to secure the “.x” TLD later this year from ICANN… what would happen to all of their already issued domains?
In this scenario, all UD domains with conflicting extensions become effectively worthless as their value fragments in multiple directions. What’s even worse is that due to the nature of the UD service — its names that never expire — even if they win the ICANN auctions for the TLDs, the conflicted names would still be lost FOREVER.
What makes ENS better in this case then?
The TLD “.eth” actually exists within ICANN but is going unused. And this is extremely clever.
In fact, the country Ethiopia owns the .eth TLD but due to the ccTLD rules by ICANN, countries are unable to use country code domains with more than 2 characters in length, which takes the “.eth” TLD off the table for Ethiopia or any other country.
Because of this, there is virtually no worry about being replaced which actually greatly increases the chances ENS will secure the “.eth” TLD from ICANN. ENS has been totally dominating the name and has effectively rooted itself firmly into the mind of the web3 enthusiasts, leaving no chance for UD, HNS, or WNS to issue a duplicate “.eth” TLD as we all would end up agreeing that ENS is the only true “.eth” extension.
You can even confirm what I just said by going yourself to https://ethleaderboard.xyz/ to see the numbers.
Good news from here and on!
Genuinely, kudos to whoever chose the “.eth” to be the one and only primary TLD for ENS. Big, big brains.
From a community perspective, we have established ENS as the most dominant naming PROTOCOL from a technical standpoint, but what about the network effects?
Well, good news! Despite existing on Layer 1 where the gas fees are considerably high, ENS continues to march forward at a more than just remarkable pace, not only in sales and registries but also at the community level as well! Check https://twitter.com/ethleaderboard
From a normal web3 user point of view, it is definitely clear that ENS is far ahead of any competition and it’s no wonder that leaders of the industry such as Coinbase or Chainlink refer to ENS as the decentralized naming & identity STANDARD of Web3.0
When it comes to the industry leaders, Coinbase and Chainlink are not the only leaders supporting ENS. Here’s a video of Vitalik Buterin explaining how ENS is “the most successful non-financial Ethereum application to date” and some of the ways he personally uses the technology with IPFS for instance.
When it comes to domain sales on OpenSea, ENS represents 95.94% of the volume. Don’t trust, always verify: https://opensea.io/rankings?category=domain-names&sortBy=thirty_day_volume&chain=ethereum
ENS is even winning when it comes to the emojis domains front. TFD.
Here comes the juicy stuff
Earlier, I mentioned the Layer 1 gas fees and the yearly renewal fees for the ENS domains.
In the past few weeks/months, ENS has been working in collaboration with Chainlink on a feature called “CCIP-read”.
What is CCIP-read?
Well, with its introduction comes a new whole field of possibilities, functionalities, and opportunities for ENS users and Web3 enthusiasts.
By leveraging the technology in the CCIP-read feature, users will be able to register and house subdomains, free of that yearly renewal fee onto other blockchains, both L1s and L2s, and even legacy systems.
In other words, it means that subdomains will, in the very near future, become near to zero cost to mint. How cool is that?
This is specifically where I believe that mass adoption — as we’ve never ever seen in web3 — will happen.
Ultimately, human-readable names were always meant to be a natural evolution of the blockchain & decentralized computing process, and this is exactly where the ENS PROTOCOL interferes.
Let’s take a moment and gather all the information I have provided thus far, and try to implement it in the future, only a few years from now.
To wrap this up, ENS is the only PROTOCOL supported as the naming STANDARD of the most widely used blockchain in the world so far, positioning itself to be the safest spot imaginable in both web2 and web3 while capturing the eye of the public as the top-performing.
Once people start understanding the enormous potential behind the ENS PROTOCOL, the dot com bubble will look like an infant when compared to the coming dot eth hype.