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Web3 Domain Names

We use domain names to access web pages although the actual location where these pages reside is a set of numbers; the IP address.  Most page hosts buy a domain name and the provider bundles in the IP address.  With some cunning maths they can run several different domain names off a single IP address or a user can move their domain name to another host and address.  Major web users or security conscious bodies will buy their own static IP addresses to host web pages.

A Web3 naming system has sprung up offering an easy to remember domain name linked to a unique alphanumeric string on the Blockchain.  This will often be a wallet address.  It means that when requesting funds these can be sent to a destination such as yourName.eth instead of 0xedfa4B794703BB99DF55B8fF65605Ec4A27103E9.  With destinations such as that the average user is going to copy and paste from another source or scan a barcode.  The implications of someone picking up the wrong address are obvious.  If instead the request were to send funds from secureWeb3.eth and that came from secureWeb3 there is at least some chance that the request is genuine.  There will still be the usual issues of scammers buying up domain names that appear to be from reputable bodies but instead only share a remarkably similar name.

Potential domain names are currently available on platforms including Ethereum, Polygon and Handshake.  Web3 domains tend to be cheaper than traditional web domain names but Gas fees are involved so they will rarely be free. The name will continue to exist as long as the Blockchain; this might be indefinitely and some providers will sell that name as a ‘forever’ purchase compared to previous web domain names that are effectively leased. The owner could still sell a domain name on in the future. 

The Web3 domains do not strictly work on the existing web page format but can be used within dedicated applications or browser plug-ins such as wallets.  Web3 compatible browsers are available such as Brave.  What is really happening here is that the wallet compatibility is directly built into the browser rather than existing as a plug in.

It is possible to store data on the Blockchain.  Due to the escalating Gas fees as more nodes are linked to the same transaction it is more likely that the chain itself only includes a link to data that is held on a traditional storage system, such as a cloud server.  This is the model used by many NFTs where it is particularly useful due to their size and in the case of markets such as OpenSea a graphic can be viewed but will not be minted as an NFT until someone agrees to buy it.

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) can be used as a repository to store data purely on the Blockchain with files broken up into chunks on individual blocks. This allows the provision of Web3 websites running off Web3 domains. These websites can parallel traditional website functionality with text, images and code for user interaction. They will not, however, show up in traditional browsers or search engines. At present their best use is where a web site needs to integrate some Web3 functionality such as use of a wallet or minting NFTs through the use of embedded smart contracts. Another is to archive data preventing its deletion and setting a timestamp for the date of archiving.

Although the concept of Web3 domain names is still developing now would be a good time to make a modest investment while costs are low and many useful domain names are still available. From a use case viewpoint it would be worthwhile investing in a Web3 domain if requests for crypto funds are frequently being sent out, for example from a body that is selling something.  Certainly any business concerned about their on-line brand presence should investigate what names are available and purchase those most suitable to prevent someone else doing so first.

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