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[ga] PROJECT: A Quantitative Evaluation of DNS as a Directory Service

GA members have on multiple occasions discussed the extent to which DNS does
or does not provide directory-like services -- with DNS designer Paul Vixie
pointing out that this is not the purpose for which DNS was designed, but
with millions of users continuing to use DNS in this way.

In my "DNS as a Search Engine: A Quantitative Evaluation," I attempt to
investigate and quantify the success with which the DNS provides services
similar to a search engine or directory system.  I first find that DNS is
nearly as accurate as Google among a sample of the world's largest brands.
However, for smaller brands, smaller companies, and less selective
educational institutions, DNS's accuracy is substantially worse than
Google's.  These results suggest that while DNS well serves the needs of the
largest companies, it is less successful in providing intuitive naming
services to small businesses and other smaller organizations.

I've also investigated the accuracy of now-defunct private keyword system
RealNames.  In recent testing, RealNames offered relatively high accuracy
among sampled educational institutions, but it failed to properly provide
references for many of the largest brands worldwide (as reported by
Interbrand), including Nokia, Intel, and Ford.  This outcome may reflect a
conflict in the goals of keyword service operators -- that providing an
accurate keyword system requires giving away a large number of
registrations, but that operating a profitable keyword system requires
denying registrations to those who have not paid the specified fees.

My results are posted at

I look forward to comments from GA members.

Ben Edelman
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard Law School

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