ENS is an open source naming protocol based on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s developed by the non-profit organization True Names LTD. ENS launched in 2017, initially offering only decentralized .ETH domains, but now allows users to import in second level DNS names (.com, .net, .org, .co etc.).
ENS expanded beyond the .ETH domains and added .XYZ as a DNS domain option beyond .ETH prior but on August 26, 2021 ENS made the announcement that any second level TLD is now compatible and can be imported into ENS.
What does that mean? Any domain name with one dot in it can now be imported into ENS, and that includes .com domain names. Okay, what the heck is ENS though? In general, ENS is a decentralized naming system that is housed on the Ethereum blockchain. You can learn more specifically about ENS here and here. (I'm still learning as well)
Why is this a big deal?
Web3 is thought to be the future of the web and now brand-aligning on Dapps (decentralized applications) can include the .com domains of brands around the world (and other TLDs) beyond .ETH and .XYZ which were a few of the only options prior.
Okay, overall, it’s not a huge deal today but it is progressing fast and I wanted to make sure you’re aware of it and ahead of the game.
You may have heard of NFTs and the popular peer to peer marketplace OpenSea? The way OpenSea works is based on Ethereum accounts, which you can manage with wallets like MetaMask.
Each MetaMask wallet has an Ethereum address which basically is similar to IP addresses that represent domain names. Owners of wallets at times need to send or receive funds (ETH) or even an asset like an NFT. In order to receive, the sender needs to know the address of the wallet of the recipient. Well, you see where I’m going with this.
The decentralized application MetaMask identifies a users account via a long string of letters/numbers that mainly looks like computer talk to us humans. ENS allows turning that long string of numbers and letters into an easy to identify string by using a domain name in its place.
By connecting a .com domain with ENS, you can now just provide your domains as the Dapp address and even username.
Being able to connect GoDaddy.com as the Web3 username on Dapps makes A LOT of sense for GoDaddy as a brand. It makes sense for all brands to brand-align their .com domain names with the Web3 username system and that’s why I believe it’s a big deal. Prior, brands have been using .ETH domains.
How do you set it up?
I am very new to decentralized applications and in general, Web3 stuff but I am learning. I’d suggest you do so as well. Most of the content below will likely feel very unfamiliar to you but you will become more familiar with it over time.
If you do not have an Ethereum wallet like MetaMask.io, you will need one for this process. You will also need some ETH in your wallet to complete it.
In general, you have to go to two places currently to make your .com domain a Web3 username and replace a wallet address with it but hopefully that changes with some integrations in the future directly on large retail registrars.
Here is the step by step version from ENS.
Tip: when ENS refers to “DNS domain name” they say that because a .com domain uses DNS to work correctly. A “DNS domain name” is .com, .xyz, .co, .org etc.
In general, you need to visit https://app.ens.domains and connect your wallet, such as MetaMask.
Then, at your domain name registrar, you will need to enable DNSSEC—there is a fee at some registrars—for the domain name you wish to use.
You will then need to set a new DNS TXT record via your domains registrar, which will include: _ens and the value being a= with your wallet address; it’s explained in more detail in the step by step article.
Once you have those DNS records set, visit the ENS app page and find the domain name you set. If it doesn’t show right away, just wait as DNS updates can be right away or take several hours. You will need to “register” the name/domain then on ENS, essentially activating it.
When you submit proof (activation) on ENS, the settings/data then needs to be stored on the blockchain. This is done by miners and costs money. Sometimes, it cost A LOT of money depending on the network activity. This mining and the related fees are called “gas” and go to miners, not ENS.
Prior to activating, you will need ETH in your MetaMask wallet.
I could write an entire book on gas fees but IMO it’s the biggest negative of Ethereum. Anytime you need to change something on the Ethereum network, it's going to cost gas fees to do it.
Be sure to finish by setting the reverse record on ENS (step 8) as that is what actually turns your prior wallet address/Web3 username into your domain name on Dapps.
I know this is likely confusing. Take some time to learn more about Dapps, MetaMask, Web3 and the decentralized web. You can even host a website now on the decentralized web. Since you can not connect your .com domain without a cryptocurrency wallet, I’d suggest learning more about that first. I mention MetaMask several times because it’s a popular one.
IMO, this is also a big selling point for .com domains because of the brand connection and alignment further into the future of the web. The more you use Dapps, the more you see the importance of "your wallet address" and Web3 username.
I think Web3 will be a big part of the future and brand aligning is important on the web no matter where that is at. Being able to do so with your .com domain name in all places is icing on the cake and makes owning the best brand matching .com domain name to your brand even more valuable.