Top Things to Know About Digital Archery and Batching

23 June 2012: Digital Archery has been suspended. Please see http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/announcements-and-media/announcement-23jun12-en for more information.

  1. What is batching?

    Batching is the dividing of new gTLD applications into groups for processing.

  2. Why is batching needed?

    According to the Applicant Guidebook, if the total number of applications significantly exceeds 500, applications will be processed in batches. See the Applicant Guidebook Module 1, Section 1.1.2.5 for more details: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/agb

    As of 12 April 2012, significantly more than 500 applications had been submitted. Though some may withdraw, this number triggers the batching process.

    The batching process enables ICANN to maintain the quality of evaluations and manage the annual delegation rate, which ICANN has committed will not exceed 1,000 per year.

  3. What is the batching process?

    The batching process has two parts: assignment of a secondary timestamp (also known as "digital archery"); and batch formation.

  4. What is a secondary timestamp?

    The secondary timestamp system allows an applicant to set a target date/time and then measures the applicant's ability to hit that target. A secondary timestamp is the formal confirmation of the applicant’s attempt to hit their target date and time in the batching system.

  5. What is batch formation?

    Batch formation employs an algorithm that takes into account an applicant’s: (1) batching preference, (2) secondary timestamp score, (3) geographic location, and (4) contention among identical and "similar" applications.

  6. How is the secondary timestamp system built?

    The secondary timestamp system is hosted in our Reston, Virginia, US, data center and uses the same infrastructure as the TLD Application System. Users will connect to our Citrix XenApp high-availability cluster and will then log into the batching system.

  7. How does the secondary time stamp system work?

    When the batching process begins, all applicants will receive notifications that they should log into the batching system. When applicants log in, they must first review the rules, then indicate a preferred batch (that is, the earliest batch or any batch) and select a target day and time for each application they have submitted.

    At the appropriate time, each applicant will log into the batching system and click on the "Generate" button as close as possible to its target time. This will produce a secondary timestamp, formally confirming the time of the attempt.

    Along with other criteria, the difference between the target time and the time shown in the secondary timestamp will be used to determine which batch the application will be placed in – the lower the number, the more likely that it will be placed in an early batch.

    This process will be repeated for each application the applicant has submitted.

  8. When will the secondary timestamp process start and end?

    The target opening time/date for the process is 00:01 GMT/UTC on 8 June 2012 and the target closing time/date, by which all secondary timestamps must have been generated, is 23:59 GMT/UTC on 28 June 2012.

  9. Can I see a preview of the secondary timestamp system before it opens?

    Yes. A user guide and recorded demonstration of the system will be available on the new gTLD microsite before the batching process begins.

  10. Can I test the system?

    Yes. Users will have access to a testing feature to gauge the secondary timestamp system’s response time.

  11. Why would I need to "gauge" the system?

    Your geographic location, bandwidth, network latency, system speed and other factors should all be taken into account when generating your secondary timestamp. Increasing your familiarity with the system before obtaining a timestamp score will help you make any necessary adjustments.

  12. Is the secondary timestamp system easy to navigate?

    The system is built on the same platform as the TLD application system, so TAS users will be familiar with it. But the batching system is simpler. It has only a few screens, it does not involve uploading documents, and it can be completed in a few minutes. Click here to read the Batching System User Guide [PDF, 2.02 MB].

  13. How accurate is the secondary timestamp method?

    The secondary timestamp testing feature displays time in milliseconds. The system measures smaller time increments in case greater accuracy is needed to allocate applications into appropriately sized batches.

  14. Does it matter if I click to generate my timestamp before or after my target time?

    No. Secondary timestamp scores are absolute, which means that there are no negative numbers. An applicant will have the same secondary timestamp score whether it is recorded one millisecond before or one millisecond after the applicant's target time.

  15. How many chances do I get to hit my target time?

    Only one, but there are opportunities to test the system before generating the secondary timestamp. Once you have generated the secondary timestamp, it is final and cannot be changed or transferred.

  16. If I click on the "Generate" button by mistake, can I undo it and start over?

    No. You have only one opportunity.

  17. What is the "Opt-out" option inside the secondary timestamp process?

    You might not prefer to be in the earliest batch possible. If you elect to "Opt-in," it means you prefer to be in the earliest batch possible. By selecting "Opt-out," you agree to be placed in any batch, which might be the last one or any other.

  18. If I "Opt-out", do I still need to generate a secondary timestamp?

    Yes. Even if you opt out, you must generate a secondary timestamp to help with the ordering of all applications.

  19. If I have submitted more than one application, do I need more than one timestamp?

    Yes. A secondary timestamp must be generated for each application.

  20. If I submitted more than one application, can I opt in for some and opt out for others?

    Yes.

  21. Can I transfer a secondary timestamp from one application to another?

    No. The secondary timestamp is specific to each application ID and string, and cannot be transferred.

  22. Where can I find the batching rules?

    The batching rules will be contained in the Batching System and will also be posted on the New gTLD microsite: https://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/tas/batching/details-06jun12-en.pdf [PDF, 198 KB].

    During the batching process, you will be asked to read and accept the rules for each application. This must be done before you can generate a secondary timestamp.

  23. What if I miss my target time and, as a result, can not attempt to hit my target?

    If you do not log in at your target time, the system will allow you to modify the target. However, this can only be done prior to generating the secondary timestamp. If your timestamp has already been recorded, you cannot change it.

    The system will send a reminder prior to the target time. You should plan to log into the system several minutes before your target time so you are fully prepared to click the "Generate" button at exactly the right time.

    Important: The system will timeout after 30 minutes of inactivity. This means that you should not log in more than 20 minutes before your target time.

  24. Can I modify my target date and time before I generate my secondary timestamp?

    You may change your target date and time at any time prior to generating your secondary timestamp and before the close of the batching system window.

  25. How can I ensure I get as close to my target time as possible?

    The secondary time stamp system is set to UTC time and the server clock will be will be displayed when you test the timestamp. We recommend that you synchronize your computer clock to the server clock. This will allow you to monitor your computer clock and increase your ability to generate the secondary timestamp as close to the target time as possible.

    You can also use the Test the Batching System function to determine how quickly the system captures the timestamp. The test will display in milliseconds, so you can measure the difference between your target time and the recorded time by clicking the "Generate" button.

    Note, when you generate your official timestamp the system will not immediately report the recorded time or timestamp. Timestamps will not be disclosed publicly or to applicants until they are posted concurrent with the posting of the batching order.

  26. If I have applied for financial assistance, do I need to go through the batching process?

    Yes. Applications submitted for financial assistance under the Applicant Support Program may be processed as early as the second batch. A secondary timestamp is required to determine which batch the application will be in.

  27. What are we doing to mitigate batching system security risks?

    The batching system will only be accessible through the Citrix XenApp front-end environment. Applicants will log into Citrix, just like they did in the application process, and from there will open a batching system session. Citrix will also have verbose logging enabled and we will be able to tie activity from the logged-in Citrix account to the logged-in TAS account. The source IP for each session will be logged and correlated to the TAS user account being used.

    Full network packet capture will be collected during the batching process to allow investigation of any suspicious activity, or if necessary, to roll back to a previously known good state.

    Security penetration-testing of the batching process and Citrix XenApp has been conducted by outside security consultants.

  28. What are we doing to ensure that the batching system is an effective and equitable process?

    The batching system will be available for 21 days to allow applicants adequate time to test and complete the process.

    Applicants will have several opportunities to test the process and review their timestamp values (within a millisecond) to assess network latency, jitter and other factors that may affect their secondary timestamp.

    The geographic regionof the applicant will also be taken into account – please see below for more details.

  29. How will batches be formed?

    The outcome of all secondary timestamps, as well as other criteria such as the applicant’s geographic location, will determine the batch to which each application is assigned.

  30. How will you ensure geographic representation among batches?

    Geographic diversity is important in bringing more competition and choice into the domain name market. Applicants who opted in will be ranked within their geographic region (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean and North America) by their secondary timestamp score. Then applications will be selected from each ICANN region using a "round robin" approach. This approach selects the best timestamp score from each region, one region at a time, on a rotating basis. If a region runs out of opted-in applications, the "round robin" continues across the remaining regions. This process continues until the batch is formed, with the opted-out applications last.

  31. How will I know which batch I am in?

    ICANN anticipates posting the results of the batching process on 11 July 2012.

  32. How long will it take to process each batch?

    As soon as initial evaluation of a batch is complete, the next will begin. According to the Applicant Guidebook Module 1, Section1.1.2.5, initial evaluation is expected to take approximately five months for each batch. Thus the evaluation of the second batch will begin five months after the first batch, and so on until all of the applications are processed

  33. Will all applications for a contested string be evaluated in the same batch?

    In most cases, yes.

  34. How many batches will there be?

    The final number of applications will determine this. In addition, the number of batches will be affected by: the numbers of applications in string contention, applicant withdrawal, and other factors.

  35. Where can I find more information?

    Check the Batching page on the new gTLDs microsite at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/tas/batching/ for up-to-date information.