Every Service Should Allow Domains as Handles

I know they’re not the new hotness this week, but an update from the team at Bluesky reminded me about a feature that I love about their social network:

We believe that there must be better strategies to sustain social networks that don’t require selling user data for ads. Our first step in another direction is paid services, and we’re starting with custom domains. While setting up a custom domain to use with Bluesky and the AT Protocol is fairly straightforward, it does require some familiarity with domain registrars and DNS settings. Yet, over 13,000 users have already either repurposed domains they already owned to use as handles, or purchased a domain solely because of Bluesky. Domains have so much potential as a personalized way to customize identities and as a decentralized way to verify reputation that builds off the existing web. For example, U.S. Senators have used the senate.gov domain to verify their identity on Bluesky without our involvement, and a third-party developer built a web extension that checks if websites are linked to an AT Protocol identity. The possibilities are wide in the domain-as-a-handle space.

I’m a big fan of the domain-as-a-handle idea that Bluesky is spearheading here at scale. The regular” users can pick up a handle using the service’s domain (e.g. @jarrod.bsky.social), but folks who care and want to truly own their username can buy and hook up a custom domain (e.g. @heyjarrod.net). I, like Gruber, think it’s a smart and genuinely useful way for a social network to make some money by facilitating that domain purchase, too.

But the real advantage, apart from name recognition, is that it would eliminate the land rush that comes with every new social service launch as people scramble to secure their preferred handle. If you already owned a domain name and we’re able to use it as your handle across every service, you could rest easy knowing your personal internet identity would always be there for you to use.

Finally, with domain name redirects and forwarding, it would be so easy to point that canonical domain like heyjarrod.net to one of those Linktree-like sites that are so popular these days to list all your social accounts.

Bluesky is getting the username part right, at least, and it’s a model that I wish my beloved Micro.blog and newcomer Threads would follow.

UPDATE 2023-07-08: According to Micro.blog’s Manton Reece, he’s on board with implementing domain names as usernames! 🎉


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