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ENS, DNS and the future of internet names

Today a DAO just distributed 1.5 billion dollars worth of ENS tokens. They were distributed to owners of .eth domains. DAO is short for “Decentralized Autonomous Organization”.

What is a DAO? A DAO is sort of like a corporation, but it’s stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Wyoming passed a DAO law that links on-chain DAOs to real corporations. The corporation that currently manages the Domain Name Service (DNS) is ICANN.

What is DNS again? DNS is the system that translates names like “google.com” to IP addresses like Remember when Facebook went down for 6 hours last month? That was a DNS failure. When autocratic regimes want to block the internet? They do it by blocking it at the DNS level. Like when Turkey blocked Google’s DNS server, back in 2014.

Just what is ENS and how is it different from DNS? ENS is the Ethereum Name Service. Instead of registering the mapping between names and IP addresses with an ICANN-approved top-level-domain like .com, you can register a name ending in .eth in the public blockchain. The public blockchain is immutable, so it can’t be accidentally deleted, nor can it be censored by tyrants.

What are the $ENS tokens that just got airdropped today? The tokens can be sold, or used for governance of the ENS protocol. In exchange for voting, .eth domain holders who bought before October 31st are eligible to claim their ENS tokens. Using these tokens, you can vote on the constitution, vote on other protocol design decisions, and also get rewards for registering further domains.

How was the $3 billion total of $ENS tokens distributed?

  • 50% Community Treasury
  • 25% Airdropped to early adopters
  • 19% to Core Contributors
  • 6% combined to other (see tweet)

This is an experiment in protocol governance that pays open source contributors and early adopters. If this project succeeds, then it will be an alternative to DNS on the web, free of the politics of ICANN.