Are you interested in buying a blockchain domain? With the rise of decentralized technologies, buying blockchain domains has become easier than ever, whilst also becoming more and more sought after, but what exactly is so appealing about them? In this guide, we will explore the process of how to buy blockchain domain names, including what to look for, and why they are so significant.
Blockchain domains are a fascinating part of the Web3 world as they allow people to have autonomy over the way they host their online content through the use of innovative NFTs. They are one of the most revered utilities for NFTs, yet they do not receive the same level of media attention as pictorial NFTs, so in many ways they go under the radar. Nonetheless, over the years, they have become instrumental in this space.
Perhaps at the heart of these blockchain domains is the highly coveted .blockchain domain. These are for sale at Unstoppable Domains, one of the leading Web3 NFT domain services, and they are used to power a wide range of blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. In many ways, this domain is what people think of when they wonder how to buy blockchain domain names.
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Table of Contents
- 1. What are Blockchain Domains?
- 2. Are All blockchain Domains NFTs?
- 3. Where to Find Blockchain Domains for Sale
- 4. What Exactly is a Blockchain Name System?
- 5. Choosing the Right Domain Naming System
- 6. Hosting Blockchain Websites
- 7. Other Blockchain Domain Use-Cases
- 8. What does the Future Hold for Blockchain Domains?
- 9. Conclusion
What are Blockchain Domains?
A blockchain domain is a domain name that is registered and stored on a blockchain network, instead of a centralized domain name system (or DNS) server. Rather, they are found on a blockchain domain name system, in the form of an NFT. The registration and ownership of these domains are documented on the blockchain, and in some cases, you can also host entire websites on the blockchain.
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Blockchain domains offer a range of names that are highly appealing to Web3 developers and fans within this space. For instance, .eth, .nft, and .blockchain are very popular options for projects in the Web3 world. These are registered on a decentralized and immutable blockchain. One question to ask when trying to understand what is a blockchain domain is why should this matter?
It is easy to look at the world of domains and question whether these blockchain versions are necessary, considering how centralized domain registration services work just fine, but this is more of a half-truth. The current norm for domain names is definitely functional, and the plethora of other domain names available traditionally is more than enough. However, people in the Web3 space often opt for something else.
Blockchain domain names serve multiple functions that traditional domains do not. For starters, in the spirit of autonomy, when you buy certain blockchain domains, you fully own them. This means you do not rent them, or have to pay yearly fees to keep them, but instead after a one-time purchase, you have access to that domain forever.
They are fully-fledged NFTs that enter your complete possession and control. This is true for all blockchain domains for sale, and it is highly appealing for those who wish to align their website with the ideological elements of Web3, where the involvement of intermediaries is often shunned.
An implicit point that must be addressed when having blockchain domains explained is that all traditional domains work through intermediaries who lend names to customers, but who still retain the ability to unregister users and void names. This is not some theoretical power, but something that genuinely happens in the domain name space. For instance, some services have been known to pull the plug on certain domain names.
While this usually happens due to moral violations, the point remains that the power often rests in the hands of corporations rather than lawmakers or individuals. Like many other parts of the internet, domain intermediaries have found themselves in an unevenly powerful position. But to move on from this, another major aspect of blockchain domain names is that they do a fantastic job of highlighting people and projects who embrace Web3 technologies.
In a similar sense to how some well-known pictorial NFTs work, blockchain NFT domains signify to the public that somebody is a member of the Web3 space, and that they engage with its tools and concepts. This is a great form of marketing, as it can be used to attract a like-minded audience and clientele, and to build a very specific reputation online.
That said, many people do not use their blockchain domains for hosting websites. Instead, they connect their domains to their crypto wallets, making transactions with them easier to manage. Instead of people having to look at long strings of letters and numbers that correspond to their address, they use their blockchain domains as a substitution for this.
Are All blockchain Domains NFTs?
This is a significant question to ask when learning about what is a blockchain domain. Every domain which is blockchain-based is an NFT. This is why ownership can be so easily passed from one entity to another. It is also why marketplaces such as those on Binance’s or Kraken’s own sites can list them, along with OpenSea. This can be a hard concept to grasp if your only exposure to NFTs is in the form of profile pictures and images.
Despite the way they are commonly portrayed or discussed in the media, NFTs can take the form of any type of data, not only image files. They can be books, videos, smart contracts, and even domain names. This is because an NFT is nothing more than a unique cryptographic token that holds some type of information. The main feature of an NFT is that one cannot be seamlessly swapped for another, unlike how money works.
In fact, domain names were one of the first use-cases of NFTs, and so buying domain names became a big deal before buying many pictorial NFTs. Ethereum-based names (.eth) were first introduced in 2017. While the creation of NFTs predates this by a few years, this became a major utility for them much before some of the more well-known NFTs of this day and age.
There may be a time in the future when another technology is used to create blockchain-based domains, and so the question of what is a blockchain domain may eventually have a different answer, but as of right now all of these domains are specialized types of NFTs. This is good for people who wish to sell their domains, as they can easily move them to any marketplace they wish!
Where to Find Blockchain Domains for Sale
A major part of learning how to buy blockchain domain names is to learn where to find blockchain domains for sale. For this, you have several options. For starters, if you are looking for an .eth name, then you can begin your search with Ethereum Naming Service. This is a project that allows you to buy any .eth domain names that have not yet been claimed. .eth is a very popular extension for those exclusively working with Ethereum.
If you are looking for a greater range of domain names, then Unstoppable Domains might be a better choice. This project offers several sought-after names, such as .crypto, .nft, .bitcoin, .dao, and .wallet. But perhaps one of their most well-known options is .blockchain. This is a simple domain name that tells you a lot about the person or project who buys it.
It signals to the world that they embrace not just the crypto industry, but its underlying technology. For this reason, it is very popular. However, do not conflate “popular” with expensive, as many .blockchain domains can be bought for a mere $10. This is important to note when you buy blockchain domain names as it means that you do not need to spend extortionate amounts of money for them.
In fact, they are cheaper than traditional domains as they are only a one-time fee; not a rental. It is also worth looking for blockchain domains for sale on NFT marketplaces, as these names double-up as a potentially lucrative investment opportunity. Places like OpenSea and Binance’s NFT marketplace are popular sites that people buy blockchain domain names from.
These are often marked up at higher prices, but you can get some very interesting and sought-after names there. This also means you can sell domain names here, too. If you are looking to make some money yourself, then you could take advantage of people’s desire for blockchain domains and buy some yourself to subsequently sell at a higher rate. Of course, this is a speculative market so there are no guarantees.
What Exactly is a Blockchain Name System?
We have spoken a lot about how to buy blockchain domain names, and about the different names on offer. However, now may be a good time to really delve into what exactly a blockchain domain name system is. This might sound simple, but there are a few important aspects that are worth unpacking if we want to gain a full grasp of this sector within the Web3 industry.
A blockchain domain name system is a decentralized system for mapping human-readable domain names to blockchain addresses, such as Ethereum or Unstoppable Domains' addresses. Unlike traditional domain name systems, which are centralized, blockchain domain name systems use decentralized technology, offering more independence to the end user.
In a blockchain domain name system, domain names are stored on a blockchain, making them secure, immutable, and above all, resistant to censorship. This allows users to register and manage their own domain names without having to rely on a centralized authority. The two prime examples of these are the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), and Unstoppable Domains (UNS).
These systems enable users to register and use their own custom domain names for websites, decentralized applications, and other online services, allowing for a more user-friendly and memorable way to access decentralized content on the web. This is not the same as hosting a website, however. This is merely the buying of a domain name via a blockchain solution.
Choosing the Right Domain Naming System
When learning about what are blockchain domains, it makes sense to spend some additional time understanding about how different domain naming systems work and function. The domain name you choose will dictate which system you use. As mentioned before, two of the most common options are ENS and UNS, and the chances are you will find yourself using one of these two.
If you buy a .eth name, you will be using ENS. If you buy a .blockchain domain, you will be using UNS. Although, there are many other UNS-supported names as well. But this is just the start of their differences. A major difference is that ENS runs on the Ethereum blockchain, whereas UNS runs on the Polygon blockchain. Polygon is a Layer-2 Ethereum solution, but it is also a fully-fledged blockchain in its own right.
They are both Ethereum-based, and so UNS domain names can function within the Ethereum ecosystem, but their underlying technology is different. This means that changes to the nature of Polygon might have an effect on how they work. There are also other naming systems using other blockchain technolgy, such as the Polkadot Naming System (or PNS) and the Binance Naming Service (BNS).
Each system will have its own ecosystem of applications and developers, and so they all offer slightly different functionalities and benefits. As a rule of thumb, the older a naming system is, the greater its functionality will be as it will have had more time to mature. This means that ENS and UNS will tend to be ideal for most people. Of course, this is a fast-paced industry and so this could change at any moment.
Hosting Blockchain Websites
Some people who buy blockchain domain names might find themselves wondering how they can actually use these names as a website. This is sadly not as easy as attaining a blockchain domain, but there are methods available. This is important to note when having blockchain domains explained, as hosting is the next logical step on many people’s minds. To do this, most users begin with IPFS, or InterPlanetary File System.
This is a decentralized, distributed file storage system that allows for files to be accessed via the web. It works by breaking down files into smaller pieces and storing those pieces across a network of nodes, instead of on a centralized server. When a user wants to access a file stored in IPFS, they retrieve the file by getting the pieces from the network of nodes, rather than from a single server.
Its decentralized nature makes it a major player in the blockchain space. However, it is not exactly a blockchain-based service. Nevertheless, you can connect your .blockchain domain (or other blockchain-based domains) to IPFS and then begin to host your site via their database. Your domain will still be held on the blockchain, but the data will be held on IPFS.
A full explanation of how to host on IPFS is beyond the scope of this piece, but this page offers a more in-depth description. What you should note is that blockchain domain names will currently redirect users to a different, traditional domain name when they are used. So, if somebody enters a .blockchain or .eth name into an address bar, they will be taken to another place.
This is because blockchain domain name systems such as ENS and UNS are still relatively new technologies and so they do not currently have the infrastructure that traditional names do. When you host a site on IPFS, the .blockchain domain you use will be redirected towards a point within the database itself, which will usually look like a string of letters and numbers.
Do not be alarmed by this– it is simply a limitation of the tools available at the moment. This will likely be a thing of the past once blockchain technology matures further. But as of right now, it is very important to note when learning what are blockchain domains. Furthermore, you can only host relatively static websites on IPFS. This is because IPFS is designed for static file storage.
It does not have the ability to run server-side code, execute database queries, or handle real-time data updates. For this reason, IPFS is best suited for hosting simple brochure-style sites, landing pages, and portfolios that do not require complex interactions or real-time data updates. This might sound restrictive but there is still a lot that can be done with a static site.
While developers are working to create solutions for hosting dynamic websites on IPFS, the technology is still in its early stages, and the ability to host complex applications on IPFS is not yet fully available. These are aspects that you need to keep in mind when you are looking to buy blockchain domain names, and have blockchain domains explained if you plan to host.
What about blockchain hosting? Many people who ask what are blockchain domains tend to find themselves eventually asking about actual blockchain hosting, as well. Remember, IPFS might be decentralized, but it is not blockchain-based. For most people, this will satisfy their needs, but if you want to explore the full utility of blockchain technology and build a fully blockchain-based site, there are some options available.
For instance, Storj and Swarm are blockchain-based data storage services that are also decentralized, and which can also be used to host a website using a blockchain domain name system. Like IPFS, these can only host static websites, although this could change in the future. This is great for those who want to disconnect entirely from the world of Web2, and become an adopter of full Web3 technologies.
Other Blockchain Domain Use-Cases
Hosting a website is the most direct and typical use-case that gets discussed when learning what is a blockchain domain, but it is only one utility. Another very popular utility is to use blockchain domains as a type of username. You may have seen this on Twitter, where people have .eth or .blockchain at the end of their names. These are people who own and buy blockchain domain names and use them as representation.
Doing this is much easier than hosting a site, as you can simply use the name in your social media handles if you own it. These are still blockchain domain names, but they will not lead anywhere if you put them in an address bar. This might be perceived as misleading by some, but generally speaking, it has become the norm to use these as simple names or identifiers in the Web3 space.
Developers tend to place these types of domains on themselves, including those who work on major projects like Uniswap and Ledger. It is a way for people to recognize each other, as well as explain to the public (and the prospective job market) what type of work they do and what their interests are. It is good to keep this in mind when it comes to having blockchain domains explained as it is much less daunting than hosting.
People also buy blockchain domain names so that they can streamline the process of transacting cryptocurrency with them. When you set up a crypto wallet, you are provided with a public key that resembles a long string of letters and numbers. These are relatively illegible to humans and do not make for a pleasant experience.
Buying a blockchain domain changes this situation by using them to stand in for your wallet address. This way, people can send money to the domain instead of the address and have it redirected to the right place. This does not necessarily happen automatically, and it will not work on every service, but projects such as Trust Wallet, MyEtherWallet, Guarda and many others offer support.
With this in mind, it is very much possible that it will be the norm for people within the Web3 space, to all buy blockchain domain names, and use them as stand-ins for wallet addresses as a move to make the industry more human-centric and human-readable. Currently, having one of these domains is very much optional, but as this space matures, its norms will develop and grow.
What does the Future Hold for Blockchain Domains?
A discussion on what are blockchain domains would not be complete without placing some thought into their future. Like the overall NFT market, the blockchain domain space is relatively new, and so there is a lot of room for change and development. What sort of changes can we expect to see as the years go on? Will the process of how you buy blockchain domain names change?
For starters, it is fair to say that there will be more domain name options. Right now, options like .blockchain, .nft, and .dao are very fitting for this industry as they all cover very large sectors of the Web3 world. However, this space moves tremendously fast, and so new terminology will surely surface. At a point when a certain term becomes highly popular, there will likely be a project offering a domain that relates to it.
Another big possibility is that blockchain domains will become more lucrative. There is already a history of people spending a lot of money to buy blockchain domain names off of people who already own them at high prices, but those prices might increase when mass adoption increases. This would make them even more lucrative of an investment than they already are.
Not only this, but if a time comes when it is the norm for everyone to have a blockchain domain that redirects to their wallet address for the sake of human-readability, then these domains could become more expensive. Or at least their resale value might grow. Right now, attaching a domain to your wallet is an optional idea (albeit one that newcomers appreciate greatly). However, this could be more popular in years to come.
A final major development we may see is that hosting websites on blockchain domains becomes easier. For this to happen, there need to be several infrastructural changes that take place. To begin with, we need web browsers to support more naming systems, such as ENS, UNS, and even Binance’s BNS. Currently, the only way to do this is with a specialized browser like Brave, or with additional extensions installed, such as MetaMask.
With that being said, there is nothing stopping web browsers like Chrome and Firefox from updating their tools to automatically support these options. If more big tech companies onboard themselves into Web3 and start buying blockchain domains to use for themselves, then this type of change may happen very soon. Once this occurs, it will make blockchain domains much easier to understand and significantly more exciting.
The next infrastructural change needed is for hosting to become simpler. IPFS and its blockchain-based counterparts are great for static websites, but developers are struggling to find ways of allowing for dynamic websites to run in a decentralized manner. However, there are many people working on solutions to this, so it is fair to assume that in the future, something will arise which will make this a real possibility.
Blockchain domains are a revolutionary and exciting technology, with a lot of potential that could get unlocked in the years to come. They are a fantastic way of showing the world that you are integrated into Web3, and they can help simplify the nature of transacting; both for newcomers and veterans. This is just one reason to buy blockchain domain names– they are also good alternatives to traditional domains for hosting sites.
Not only this, but they are constantly getting worked on, meaning they are only going to get better as time goes on. Domain hosting will likely get simpler, and there is a good chance that web browsers like Chrome and Firefox will adopt tools that help process blockchain domains from projects such as Ethereum Name Service and Unstoppable Domains. When that happens, the utility of these domains will skyrocket.
There is a lot to be said about blockchain domains, with a lot of room for development. Like many other parts of the Web3 industry, there is a tremendous amount of potential available, which will likely get released and revealed over time. Domains are poised to become a big part of the internet, both via their adoption and the tools that underpin them. It would be wholly unsurprising to see them have a huge impact on the web.