The .org top-level domain underwent a registry transition on January 1, 2003. Since its inception in 1984, it has been the responsibility of the Internic/Network Solutions/Verisign GRS conglomerate to create and maintain .org domains within their registry space. The registry transition has moved the TLD to the Public Interest Registry (PIR), a non-profit organisation associated with Afilias, Inc., the maintainer of the .info registry.

The transition may seem needless, as .org was going smoothly enough at Verisign prior to the transition (nobody noticed or even really questioned where .org domains came from, so they must've been doing something right), but ICANN, the international bureaucracy responsible for domain names and, to a certain degree, IP address allocation, held a call for bids among currently active domain name registrars and registries. The winner, The Internet Society (ISOC), was announced in May 2001, and they created PIR specifically for handling .org registry services. As such, it has its own board of directors, who decide on .org-specific issues, which has thus far consisted largely of the registry transition. The chairman of PIR is (as of this writing) David W. Maher.

PIR has, since before the transition, made some fairly steep promises to its domain registrants. Among them are the claim that they'll be able to register a .org domain and have it resolve in minutes, as opposed to the usual 48 hours new domains require to propagate to the rest of the internet. (How they're planning on doing this, I have no idea. They won't elaborate.) Future versions of EPP might have something to do with it, but as of this writing EPP is not all that widely used among the 250 or so active domain name registrars. The .org whois database will eventually be consolidated into a single entity, as opposed to individual whois databases based on the holding registrar, just like their partners at Afilias currently have. For the first few months .org was at PIR, the .org whois database was highly inconclusive on its own and accurately lists only the domain's nameservers. For everything else it listed "unavailable." Registrant-configured admin, tech, and billing contacts were available only by performing a direct lookup with the sponsoring registrar for the .org domain in question. All this was overhauled and whois lookups for .org domains are now virtually identical to Afilias' .info whois database.

According to their mission statement, PIR also promises active involvement in the ".org community" :

PIR will involve the .ORG community in discussions of issues that affect it. We're creating a .ORG Advisory Council to be made up of leaders from the broad spectrum of the noncommercial world. Its members will provide valuable advice and feedback on specific issues that affect the .ORG community.

It sounds nicely idyllic, coming from a TLD registry, but then Internic (before Network Solutions bought them, and before Network Solutions was bought by Verisign GRS) was promising the same things with their catalogue of TLDs before they started charging for registry services, when they were an active part of the internet community instead of a thorn in its side.



Sources:
http://www.pir.org/
http://www.afilias.info/
http://www.isoc.org/
http://www.icann.org/
http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc1035.txt

Working for a domain name registrar helps, too.

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