Given the large number of new generic top-level domain (gTLD) applications, we will divide and evaluate them in batches. The batching system is targeted to open at 00:01 UTC on 8 June 2012, and will close at 23:59 UTC on 28 June 2012. The target date for posting the batching order is 11 July 2012.
The batching process will be used to determine which applications will be processed in the first batch, the second batch and so on. It will be done by: assignment of a timestamp, and the formation of batches.
Timestamp assignments will be done using the TLD Application System (TAS). All applicants must use their TAS credentials to log in, read and accept the batching rules, indicate their batching preference, and select their target date and time. Once these steps are completed applicants should log back into TAS to hit the target time and generate a secondary timestamp. Users will have access to a testing feature to gauge the secondary timestamp system's response time.
Batching formation considers an applicant's: (1) batching preference, (2) geographic region and secondary timestamp; and (3) contention among identical and "similar" applications.
(1) Applicants stating a preference for "opting-out" will be placed last.
(2) 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.
(3) ICANN will then make preliminary determinations of contention sets based upon exact match. All applications in a single contention set are placed into the batch where the earliest application in the contention set is placed. Once the string similarity panel establishes complete contention sets, "similar" strings might be reassigned to an earlier batch. No applications will be demoted as a result of the promotion of others. This could result in a batch larger than 500.
ICANN has taken care to provide a secure and stable platform for the batching system. Users will connect to the Citrix XenApp high-availability cluster and will then log into the batching system. Applicants will be required to agree to a set of Batching Rules, including an agreement that "ICANN reserves the right to delay an application to the last batch or to reject an application entirely if ICANN reasonably determines that the applicant abused the batching system or intentionally interfered with the performance of the system or any other applicant's use of the system."
Along with this announcement ICANN is posting several additional resources to inform applicants about the batching process. These include a: set of frequently asked questions (FAQs), video demonstration, user guide, batching details and rules, and a batching basics fact sheet, which all can be found on the Batching information webpage at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/tas/batching/. Information on security, infrastructure, and operations is also available in these materials.