Today we talk with Gavin McCutcheon, CEO of .scot domain, the domain for the Scottish, those who live in Scotland and around the world.
Question: What is .Scot? Where are you located? How many people work there?
Answer: .scot is the Top Level Domain (gTLD) for the worldwide community of Scots. We are a community domain rather than a purely geographic one because while only 5 million people live in Scotland, there are roughly 50 to 100 million people around the world who claim Scottish ancestry or other close connection. The idea behind .scot is a domain to bring those far-flung communities together and to provide a way Scots both in Scotland and elsewhere can identify their belonging.
dotScot Registry is based in Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow although with the Covid pandemic we have all been working from home. So I’m writing this from Luing Island, a small island off Scotland’s west coast which has more highland cattle than people! In total we have 5 staff but in addition to this, we have 8 ‘Global Ambassadors’ around the world, including America, Canada, Australia, Europe and India who spread the word and represent us to our overseas communities.
Q: What exactly does a registry like dotScot do?
A: We manage and operate the .scot domain. By that, I mean we make .scot domains available for registration through registrars, make sure the domain is stable and available at all times (even when we are being cyber-attacked!) and, most importantly, ensure that the voices of all our communities are heard and influence the direction and strategy of the Registry.
As a community domain, it is important for us that we balance generating revenue against how to best represent our community, its languages, culture, land and peoples. To do that we work closely with our colleagues at home and around the world to ensure .scot domains are available to those that want to use them and at the same time deter cyber-squatters and domainers
Q: Why are geoTLDs important?
A: Geographic Top-Level Domains are extremely important for many reasons. For example, although Scotland is a nation, it is ineligible for it’s own country code because it is part of the UK. So individuals, businesses and organisations had no way to clearly identify themselves as being Scottish on-line. Bearing in mind that Scotland has it’s own unique languages, culture and music, as well as its reputation for innovation, quality of its produce and so on, until .scot became available there was no easy way to express or access that on the internet.
By representing cities, regions and communities, geoTLDs raise awareness of their uniqueness and diversity and that has to be a good thing.
Image of Rory the lion and Dottie the unicorn. In case you don’t know, Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn, with the lion also used in their coat of arms.
Q: What advice can you give to companies on how to get online?
A: The best thing to do is just do it. It’s honestly so much easier these days than it was not long ago. Ask around to find a reputable Registrar who can also supply web and email hosting and give it a go. Websites are also much easier to do yourself these days, with WordPress, Wix and other tools doing the hard work for you. The hardest part is figuring out what you want your domain name to be – and that’s another area where geoTLDs help because you can usually get shorter, mode memorable names with them than you can with the older TLDs.
Q: Which are the main success stories of .scot domain?
A:The first one has to be securing the name in the first place! Apart from having to complete the application process, we had to demonstrate that we had the support of the world-wide family of Scots and then get approval from the Scottish Government and the UK Government. No mean feat!
We are particularly proud of the fact our Government was the first in the world to adopt a geoTLD as it’s main platform. So it became gov.scot very early on and led the way for our NHS, parliament and other civic bodies. Likewise we are delighted that so many Scottish societies, clubs, organisations, businesses and individuals around the world now use .scot. Currently we have .scot domains registered in 57 different countries which is truly amazing
Q:Could you give us some information about the use of .scot domains during the pandemic? (i.e. protect.scot)
A: We worked closely with our National Health Service during the pandemic, both to ensure that they had access to the domain names they needed and also to close down malicious sites incorporating certain key words or phrases, such as Covid, SARS, NHS, Coronavirus, etc. That approach ensured the public could access the best information and advice and at the same time avoid people getting scammed or misled by fake sites.
There were two key NHS websites during the pandemic: is nhsinform.scot for health information and guidance; and protect.scot for track & trace. Together they provided the backbone for our Government’s pandemic response and strategy.