As the decentralization wave takes over the domain name space, 3DNS and Unstoppable Domains have emerged as formidable players. These platforms offer a unique blend of traditional DNS services couple with blockchain technology. While they share some similarities, such as domain minting through Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), the two platforms have distinct approaches to domain registration, ownership, and resolution. This article dives deep into these intricacies to help you understand which platform might best suit your needs.
Web2 and Web3 domains
It would be beneficial to start by delineating the distinctions between web2 domains (.com, .inc, .wtf etc.) and web3 domains (.box, .eth, .x etc.).
Domains serve as user-friendly identifiers (e.g., 3dns.box) for specific online locations, translating to machine-readable IP addresses (e.g., 192.168.1.1). The Domain Name System (DNS) simplifies the navigation by converting domain names to IP addresses, guiding users to their desired web destinations upon entering the domain name in their browser.
Web3 domains, specifically Unstoppable Domains, provides human-readable domain names on the Polygon blockchain, replacing traditional numeric addresses (0x1234…) with easily memorable names (lambomoon.crypto). They facilitate the resolution of domain names to various types of records, including Polygon addresses, other cryptocurrency addresses, and content hashes, simplifying user interactions within the web3 ecosystem.
Domain Minting: NFTs and Ownership Models
3DNS complies with ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to offer a variety of Top-Level Domains (TLDs) like
.xyz. Initially, a domain is registered in an offchain ICANN registrar. Following this, an NFT is minted on the Ethereum blockchain, which then becomes the authoritative ownership record for that domain.
The NFT-based ownership model provides enhanced security and allows for the seamless transfer and sale of domains. Moreover, 3DNS ensures that this NFT is the single source of truth for domain ownership, making the owner the only entity capable of modifying domain records. When you transfer or sell your domain name (on Opensea, for example), you transfer the ownership in the web2 world. This means the new wallet or owner can update the website the domain resolves to, or really anything associated with the domain as it’s now in the new wallet’s control
Unstoppable Domains also employs blockchain technology for domain registration but operates independently of ICANN. They offer custom TLDs like
.zil, which are minted as NFTs on the Ethereum or Zilliqa blockchains. Once minted, the NFT representing the domain is stored in the owner’s blockchain wallet, providing immutable proof of ownership.
Unstoppable Domains focuses on one-time payments for domain ownership, contrasting with traditional models that require annual renewal fees.
Functionality: How can I use each domain?
When using a domain on 3DNS, you are essentially combining all of the functionalities that you get with a traditional domain - updating name servers, add A record, add subdomains etc. with ENS functionalities of facilitating the resolution of various types of records, including ETH addresses, other crypto addresses, and content hashes like an IPFS hash. When you transfer the domain to a different wallet or sell it on Opensea, you transfer the ownership of the domain in the web2 world.
As stated above, Unstoppable Domains resolves various types of records, including Polygon addresses, other crypto addresses, txt records and content hashes. In addition to this, on some browsers like Brave and Opera, you are able to view your website resolved by you UD domain name.
Name Resolution: Browsers and Interoperability
Like traditional domains, 3DNS domains are resolved seamlessly in browsers. Thanks to its compliance with ICANN standards, 3DNS can provide a frictionless transition from traditional domain systems to blockchain-centric domains, all without necessitating users to change their browsing habits or software. Additionally, it abstracts away complex strings of numbers (wallet addresses, content hashes etc.) into more human-friendly names.
Unstoppable Domains requires a browser extensionor blockchain-enabled browser (like Opera or Brave) for name resolution. Some popular browsers have started integrating native support for Unstoppable Domains, but it’s not yet as widespread as traditional DNS resolution. However, Unstoppable Domains has been focusing on partnerships to enhance compatibility and usability across various platforms.
Technical Intricacies: Smart Contracts and Security
3DNS operates on a dual-system framework entailing offchain and onchain registrars. The offchain segment conforms to ICANN protocols, delivering a level of trust and security already rooted in the traditional DNS infrastructure. Conversely, the onchain segment is deployed on Optimism and uses smart contracts to uphold domain ownership and enables functionalities like instant domain transfers and secure domain custody.
Unstoppable Domains operates solely on the blockchain, using smart contracts for domain registration, transfer, and management. The ownership model is straightforward: if you own the NFT in your wallet, you own the domain. This approach simplifies the architecture but could pose challenges in terms of broad adoption and compatibility with the existing web2 ecosystem.
3DNS and Unstoppable Domains both offer innovative solutions to domain management, each with its own set of advantages and limitations. 3DNS provides a more integrated experience by working alongside ICANN and traditional DNS systems, in addition to the on chain abstractions, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a seamless transition to blockchain-based domains. Unstoppable Domains offers a more blockchain-native approach with one-time payment models but requires additional steps for name resolution in standard browsers.
Your choice between the two will depend on what you prioritize: integration with existing web infrastructure with a blockchain-native domain system, or crypto native domains. Both are pioneering the future of digital ownership, and the decision ultimately lies in how you envision using these domains.