dotMobi buying their way now, it gets better and better

[Update: 5th August 2008. I don’t actually think dotMobi would try to buy their way. My title was a little unfair. Perhaps it should have had the words naive or inexperience in there]

I wrote a post recently about how dotMobi is purposely confusing people into thinking that .mobi is right and .com is wrong when it comes to promoting your mobile-friendly Web site. But now they’re stepping up their game. Read on…

When hosting industry awards, one of the most important tasks is to ensure that they are open, inclusive, transparent, fair and above all, independent. By independent I mean free from influence by outside contributors such as sponsors and media partners.

So, why aren’t the Mobile Web Europe awards called the dotMobi Awards? I know why, because then it wouldn’t look independent. Instead, dotMobi has paid for sponsorship, promotion bags and they are on the judging panel and worse still, they mandate the use of their guidelines and their domain name as part of the entry criterion.

Do these look like independent awards to you?

Criteria for submission:

  1. Sites must be built on the .mobi domain; redirects to sites built on other naming conventions via a .mobi domain are not allowed.
  2. Sites must score at least 4 out of 5 on the free testing tool. evaluates mobile readiness using industry best practices and standards
  3. Site must meet dotMobi compliance requirements, which are outlined in the dotMobi Mobile Web Developer’s Guide, available at
  4. Sites should follow best practices as outlined in the dotMobi Mobile Web Developer’s Guide, available at .
  5. Members of the judging panel and their company’s are unable to submit entries to the awards

I love point 5, because anything else would look corrupt LOL.

As if it’s not bad enough having the partner/sponsor’s own staff on the judging panel, it’s non other than Vance Hedderel, Director, PR and Communications, dotMobi

I wouldn’t have believed it without seeing it with my own eyes. Thanks to Alfie and Pat for highlighting this on Twitter.

As long as I’m Chair and the support of the Executive, The British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) will never support dotMobi until it gets it’s act together. BIMA members are made up of dotMobi’s audience – i.e. the agencies (not to mention the upcoming graduates and future students) that build the mobile-friendly Web sites.

Helen Keegan also thinks they should be renamed. Helen also points out that there are only 3 women speaking for the entire 3 day conference. What rock do these people live under?

What do you think?

Comments  Join the discussion

  1. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Dave Ingram said...

    Equal opportunities means just that… it should be equally possible for men and women to speak at a conference. It doesn’t mean that there *should* or *must* be equal numbers. That’s not equality, but enforced quotas.

    Yes, they shouldn’t deliberately omit women, so if they have missed some prominent women in the field in favour of less well-known men then that is wrong. It’s all a matter of proportions, though. If 10% of the available prominent speakers in the field are female, then surely it would be unfair for them to make up 25% of the speakers?

    I suppose I should expect to be flamed for this.

  2. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  james (mjelly) said...

    Fair point about female speakers but I don’t think it matters about being dot mobi. You can just buy a dot mobi domain and point it at your .com or m. mobile site. It is not like you can’t enter if you mainly use .com or another format.

  3. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    James, even that’s wrong. In order to comply with the dotMobi guidelines, which are mandated, you are *not* permitted to forward your domain to a .com

    How stupid is that!

    Why would you want to buy a .mobi if you were going to forward it anyway. You’ll just confuse people. Just tell them they can use a mobile as well as desktop computer.

  4. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  james (mjelly) said...

    In my experience a single domain sniffing for devices is a recipe for disaster e.g. what if i am using opera mini and get sent to the web version.

    All the big US web guys are offering a specific m. address e.g., – NOT telling people to access .com on their phones?

  5. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Dave – I agree. Really, I do. I run and co-host quite a few events and known only too well, how it’s more difficult to get more women involved. That said, I don’t think it’s have to use too much energy to get more then 1 woman per day. Remember, dotMobi is owned by companies such as Google, Samsung, Vodafone and others – are you telling me they couldn’t get more than 3 women speakers if only to balance the books a bit.

    I can safely say that I wouldn’t find it difficult to get women who were better than more than a handful of guys they picked.

    @James – apologies for the confusion in my opening para – I’ve since done an edit. You can read the full post at

  6. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Charles Olive said...

    Its sad that they feel the need to be so inclusive and it’ll bite them on the ass (as posts like this and stances from the BIMA are testament to).

  7. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Helen Keegan said...

    Full comment here:

    @Dave Ingram I agree with you on your equality theory and I’m not advocating positive discrimination. I would expect that 20% to 30% of the speakers and panellists be female but Informa has barely even made 5% let alone the 10% you mention with 3 out of >50. And even 10% (which would bring us up to 5 or 6) isn’t enough.

    The point is, there isn’t equality when it comes to female share of voice. For whatever reason, women are either not asked or don’t put themselves forward in the same way as men to participate in conferences. I know plenty women who make great panellists and speakers but just aren’t on the radar when it comes to conference planning.

    Let’s look at the facts…

    50% of mobile consumers are women.
    50.5% of UK internet usage is by women and I believe it’s higher in the US.
    “After years of male dominance, the UK Internet population now has a slight majority of females, 50.5%. The trend will continue through 2012, when females will account for 51.3% of UK Internet users.”

    As a woman, I don’t see why men should be making all my digital decisions as to what products and services will be offered to me. I don’t see why men should be making those decisions for any other women either. Women *need* to be involved in these conversations and we have to find ways to facilitate that.

    And since there are now plenty of women in the mobile and digital industries in 2008, it’s only fair that our voices are heard too. As Mobile Entertainment Magazine will tell you, there are plenty women out there who can hold their own in the mobile world.

  8. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Charles – I’m not quite sure I know where you stand. Are you in favour of dotMobi’s approach to running awards, or do you agree with my post?

  9. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Charles Olive said...

    no dude I’m completely with you, I mean I ultimately don’t care who sponsors the awards but to limit the entries to only .mobi and then have dotMobi sponsor is just wrong.

  10. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  James Pearce said...

    As far as I am aware (and as I can see), it’s organised by Informa on behalf of the the MTLD Advisory Group (an independent industry body) and is only in fact sponsored by the dotMobi company.

    You clearly have a lot of zeal towards the success of the mobile web, but it would be worth getting your facts right and using it constructively.

    Many web sites, regardless of their domain convention, use our best practices. That’s because they’re quite good. They’re the ones that you yourself came up with as part of the W3C BP working group. I would have thought you’d be proud to see that work being used as a benchmark of quality.

    Any efforts to stimulate further interest and adoption of the mobile web medium should be welcomed, Paul, not constantly criticised.

    I fully agree with the gender issue, but I should also say that I can’t think of an large industry conference I’ve ever been to (with the exception perhaps of SXSW) which was any difference. It’s an endemic problem, which would be great to have a constructive debate about.

  11. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Vance Hedderel, Director of PR & Communications, dotMobi said...

    The company dotMobi (mTLD Top Level Domain Ltd.) is indeed a sponsor of Informa’s Mobile Web Europe 2008 event: as you note, we are paying for those canvas bags that attendees use to hold their swag.

    Other than that, our involvement in the design of the event and speakers suggested or chosen is nil.

    As James Pearce mentioned, the event is an official event of the dotMobi Advisory Group (, which is an independent industry forum and has no direct relation to mTLD Top Level Domain Ltd. That said, I have forwarded these comments to the teams at Informa and the dotMobi Advisory Group who are running this event.

    As far as the “ilovemobileweb” awards … this was simply designed to recognize good work without a lot of “hoop jumping” for participants and I’m frankly a bit surprised — and sorry — that it’s being seen in a negative light. The “ilovemobileweb” program ( was started by Bango and is now being run by the dotMobi Advisory Group, who decided to focus the event specifically on sites built on the .mobi domain since there are several other awards for mobile sites and applications that are “domain irrelevant.” However, I see the point re: the name and will bring this up to the team putting the awards items together and will do the same in regards to the judges. I volunteered to be a judge because I am always excited to see the range of sites being created. If I thought anyone was genuinely trying to “load” the competition, I would not have considered participating … and I could have suggested far simpler ways to do it than leaving it open for competition. 🙂

    In regards to your other dotMobi-related post this week, I think it’s fair for us to be strong in our stance re: using a .mobi domain. There are approximately 80,000,000 live PC-based web sites in the world using .com, .net and .org. Of those, less than .5% will work on a mobile phone. All the .mobi domain is trying to do is indicate that a site will work on a mobile phone, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to help consumers find good mobile content a bit more easily.

  12. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  alfie said...

    James I agree that the good thing about this is that it highlights standards compliancy.

    But are you just ignoring the main point? That restricting entries to a mobile web development award to .mobi domains only is simply wrong, and wrong-headed.

    Opening the awards up to mobile sites that run on *any* domain but still hit 4/5 out of the testing tool would be far better, and this debate would never have happened.

  13. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  James Pearce said...

    Alfie, you say ‘you’ but this is not a dotMobi event! 🙂 We didn’t create the criteria or the format.

    Still, you don’t need to look further than the Oscars to find awards criteria. If you don’t make foreign-language films, fine. But don’t be upset that those who do are allowed to be judged amongst their peers.

    It doesn’t stop the mobile web as a whole being a broad church.

  14. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  alfie said...

    James – I’m not pointing fingers, I’m just saying that when you’re talking about the mobile web, .mobi is a part of that, not the whole. .mobi clearly has influence over the format over the ilovemobileweb awards, why not push for inclusiveness instead?

    I’m speaking at this event, and am joyous to be involved in both the emergent mobile web and the conference.

    I am not overjoyed that we have no chance of entering our multi award platform into the awards because we choose to run our mobile sites using the industry standard m. sub domain.

    You say “If you don’t make foreign-language films, fine. But don’t be upset that those who do are allowed to be judged amongst their peers”. Now I’m not nit-picking here, but for that to be salient then the awards would need to be called the “.mobi domain awards” or similar.

  15. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    James / Vance, thanks for stopping by.

    James, referring to your comments here and emails to me personally (for which I’m grateful), may I ask you to stick to each point that I make and not try to generalise my opinion pieces by saying I’m not mindful of the good promotion done by dotMobi surrounding mobile Web. That’s like someone making a complaint about the BIMA Awards and instead of addressing their complaint, I remind them of all the initiatives that the association is working on.

    It doesn’t really matter who’s running the awards, but it’s unfortunate that Informa didn’t get a mention in my original post. NO Awards should promote the sponsors’ offering in a way that leaves the awards themselves, open to speculation.

    The awards are:

    • Sponsored by dotMobi
    • Forcing the use of dotMobi best practices
    • Forcing the purchase of a dotMobi domain (which isn’t necessary for a Web site to be mobile-friendly)
    • Employing dotMobi employees to reside over the judging

    Can’t you see that irrespective of who’s right, wrong, sponsoring, running the awards… that the message it sends out is wrong and not at all in the best interests of industry or dotMobi?

  16. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Vance – as you say:

    There are approximately 80,000,000 live PC-based web sites in the world using .com, .net and .org. Of those, less than .5% will work on a mobile phone. All the .mobi domain is trying to do is indicate that a site will work on a mobile phone, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to help consumers find good mobile content a bit more easily.

    You’re debating the differences and articulating the benefit of .mobi. That’s fine. In fact, I’d have no issue with you telling brand owners and agencies that .com is crap (if that’s what you wanted to do), if, you were a profit making company. However, because you are placing dotMobi as an Independent Industry Organisation, I think it’s irresponsible to tell people that using .com is wrong. Using .com is not wrong under any circumstances. Using .com according to the W3C is desirable. But let’s ignore the W3C and .com for a minute. I’m keen to encourage dotMobi to discontinue sending out the wrong message.

    The alternative is to stop positioning as a non-profit and simply go all out as a profit making company selling domains. You can do what you want then, without commentators writing posts like this.

  17. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Amy Mischler, VP Identity & Brand Services, dotMobi said...


    I’d just like to clarify once again that the dotMobi Advisory Group (MAG) and dotMobi are two separate organizations with the former being the independent industry user’s group. As for being a for-profit company, it’s the revenues generated by the sale of domain names that makes the many free tools and resources for the mobile web community we provide possible. Yes, we sell .mobi domain names because we think it’s the best way to discover mobile web content. We also happen to provide the industry with some very well-respected best practices because we believe it will help to grow the mobile web with high-quality and useful content (and isn’t that good for everyone?). Those two parts of our business are not mutually exclusive and we have no intent to “position” the company as anything else.

  18. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    As for being a for-profit company, it’s the revenues generated by the sale of domain names that makes the many free tools and resources for the mobile web community we provide possible.

    You’re justifying again Amy. As I said to James, I get the fact that dotMobi is very useful to the industry. Let’s park that and focus on the points I’ve made.

    We also happen to provide the industry with some very well-respected best practices

    As a founding sponsor of the MWI and a colleague of James, Ronan and Jo, I’m more than familiar with the dotMobi best practices. To be blunt, they are basically a copy ‘n paste of the W3C specifications – the difference is that dotMobi modified a few, added a few, removed a few and arguable made them a little easier to digest. Something I’m pleased with as it helps to raise awareness. Let’s park that too as you’re again, selling dotMobi instead of addressing my concern about the Awards.

    So, you actually haven’t addressed my concerns. The Awards, irrespective of who ‘runs’ them, are not, in my opinion, ‘independent’ or positioned properly. There’s no point in reiterating my points again.

    MAG/dotMobi it’s all the same thing in the context of this conversation.

  19. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @Amy, I’m also familiar with dotMobi as it turned to me during it’s early days for advice on how to implement a certification programme for your best practices. In fact, James flew to a W3C meeting in Boston specifically to see me about same.

  20. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  James Pearce said...

    This blog post, Wile E. Coyote-like, has run off a cliff and should look down.

    I don’t want to give it too much more credence.

    The gender issue deserves its own whole thread.

    Your only remaining issues seem to be that the awards are not “independent” (your word only), that one of our staff members is on the panel, and that we expect the sites to adhere to dotMobi (aka, yes, W3C) best practices.

    I would advise readers to consult the awards page that says “designed to showcase the very best in .mobi website design and development” and explain what remains “open to speculation” about their nature.

    Vance probably sees and rates more .mobi web sites daily than anyone on the planet. Believe me, he’s a qualified judge.

    If the best practices are not good rules to adhere to, then please spin that out as a separate thread too – because that would rock the foundations of everything that we’ve all been working towards (W3C, dotMobi and yourself).

    I am addressing your points one by one. But this blog’s previous post, the title of this one – and the probably defamatory graphic you have created for it – certainly make it seem like you are on some sort of unprovoked crusade against our company. If that is not the case, I’d urge you to write a new post to set the record straight.

    ( Coming to Boston to personally consult with you about our best practices? Incorrect. I do remember an industry standards workshop attended by many experts, but I was representing an entirely different company. And it was held over a year before I joined dotMobi! 🙂 )

  21. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @James – the Awards do not stipulate W3C best practices. The dotMobi guidelines do not include all of them. Please don’t bungle them together in the hope that people will think I’m putting down industry best practices that have been created by the W3C – that’s plain dumb given that Segala is a founding sponsor of the initiative.

    Vance’s expertise/experience is irrelevant to this conversation. He’s not independent from the company sponsoring said event. You clearly have no experience in running Awards – I do. My post is based on that experience.

    I refuse to write a new blog post as this one articulates my opinions – minus my personal opinion regarding stuff that I’ve heard from close sources to the company. I will leave it there unless you want me to make them public. I suggest you leave it there. I need to declare that said resources are in no way connected to my companies.

    Ronan stated to me that he travelled to Boston (or Rome, can’t remember where exactly) specifically to see me and ask for Segala’s help in building a certification programme. I will not articulate what my opinion was regarding dotMobi’s lack of understanding, experience or expertise on the subject. If you want my opinion, I’ll gladly post it. I never mentioned your name so don’t make assumptions.

  22. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  alfie said...

    “The gender issue deserves its own whole thread.”

    Totally agree, that’s an industry wide problem though.

    Personally, I’m fine with:

    a) dot mobi sponsorship
    b) dot mobi judge on panel
    c) conforming to dotmobi best practice for entry

    I’m not fine with entries being limited to .mobi sites only. That’s it, that’s my only gripe, and the one thing that has not been addressed in responses

    Think about it. These awards are at the Mobile Web Europe conference. Mobile web. With the amount .mobi has done in highlighting best practice and pushing adoption of the mobile web at a more corporate level, it is as I’ve said, excellent that the company is sponsoring and associated with the conference.

    Limiting the awards for this conference to .mobi sites disregards the *majority* of mobile sites who conform to best practice and use the m. form or /mobile/ URI for their mobiles sites. Like Moblog does, and seems to only best serve the promotion of the .mobi brand.

    It seems to me that although you, James, say you are “addressing your points one by one” you have completely ignored Pauls one statement (and the one I believe is core to this discussion):

    “Forcing the purchase of a dotMobi domain (which isn’t necessary for a Web site to be mobile-friendly)”

    The only comment that goes some way to addressing this is your comment:

    “I would advise readers to consult the awards page that says “designed to showcase the very best in .mobi website design and development” and explain what remains “open to speculation” about their nature.”

    But this just says, in essence, “we have clearly stated it’s limited to .mobi sites only”. How is telling us that only mobile web sites on the .mobi domain are allowed entry make that position right?

    One last point – if you do not allow mobile sites that conform to your best practice but are run from .com or other domains, you should change the name of the awards from “Mobile We Europe Awards” to “Dot Mobi Europe Awards” or similar, because let’s face it, they won’t be the Mobile Web Europe Awards will they.

  23. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  James Pearce said...

    “In fact, James flew to a W3C meeting in Boston specifically to see me about same.”


    “I never mentioned your name so don’t make assumptions.”


    I’m guessing the name is “Mobile Web Europe Awards” because the event is called “Mobile Web Europe” and these are the “Awards” 🙂

    I agree that one could put the word .mobi into the title too, but don’t be so hasty in assuming that this is a minority constituency: there are approximately 5 times more live .mobi sites than each of m. and mobile. sites – so the pool of entries is pretty good.

    (And at about ÂŁ4, you would spend less on buying a qualifying domain than the tube fare to get there. Don’t worry: this is a joke suggestion).

    No-one is forcing anyone to buy a domain. But if you don’t have the domain, don’t enter the competition. There are plenty of others.

    “You clearly have no experience in running Awards”

    Maybe not. But Informa does, and this is their event. Didn’t we cover that already?

  24. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    Sorry James – I got the name wrong. I meant Ronan.

  25. flag
    Paul Walsh  Paul Walsh said...

    @alfie – you did a fantastic job at articulating what I thought I had already said. Thanks – on the mark. James talks about dotMobi and W3C in the one sentence and doesn’t even mention that .com is banned. James – ask Tim Berners-Lee what he thinks if you’re that confident about the similarities.

  26. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Gerry said...

    I guess, by default, if my daughter goes to Salem Academy and her 6th grade class puts on a play, they should be eligible for the Academy Awards. Yes? No?

    Please tell me that one is different from the other.

    mTLD puts on and sponsors an awards program. But because it only mentions dot mobi as being eligible, it is therefore trying “to buy its way”?

    Paul, is that what all of this is about?

    Your objection to what you perceive as a misleading awards program title?

    Or the exclusion of .com?

    Now you do say that you perhaps should not have used the word “buy” but you go on with the same negative tone in saying “dotMobi is purposely confusing people”.

    How can you truly see this as purposely confusing people when the criteria is laid out?

    It the Academy Awards dissing my daughters 6th grade play by establishing certain criteria to be met to be eligible?

    Academy = Academy
    .mobi = .mobi
    mobile =,,,,,, and any of the hundreds or thousands of other domain prefixes and suffixes concocted and trying to be branded as a mobile alternative. All of a sudden, it is anything goes, any foofoo name than can be construed, made up, fabicated, and designed to appear to be a mobile site.

    There is the confusion.

    It is the thousands of other variations that no one else can agree on as being THE ONE way to designate a mobile site.

    So God forbid that mTLD would host, sponsor, and set a stage for awards without getting your or any of the other thousands of mobile webmasters permission prior to launching these awards.

    It appears to me that mTLD did a rather good job in simplifying their goals and establishing a criteria.

    If web designers, developers, and gurus want to be included then they need to meet that criteria.

    Just like Apple and Android and Symbian and Opera SDK’s and API’s.

    Seems to me that the easiest method would be to create a site and establish standards that work across all platforms, browsers, and mobile devices.

  27. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Get Your Dot Mobi Right Now! | Webanalyticsbook - Web Analytics said...

    […] Paul Walsh, the Irish Opportunist, posted on his blog about the strange rules of the Dot.Mobi Mobile Web Europe Awards. He especially criticizes some of the submission criterias and I am kind of on his site when it comes to awards, that have a strange smell of being biased (even that I am a big fan of .mobi). […]

  28. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Ted said...

    dotMobi are a private company and they can do what they like, though in this case they haven’t, it’s been an independent body that has done it. The world is full of broad sounding contests and awards with narrow criteria, nothing new there. It seems whatever dotMobi do some interest group says sharply it’s the wrong thing, but ultimately it is consumer use that matters for the mobile web, and for the consumer it is convenience and clarity that win out – see . Giving awards to mobile sites using the clearest indicator of mobile accessibility makes sense.

    As for the female participation, why not put forward a constructive list of women to include?

    Here are some women conference speakers on the mobile web:

    As for the claim BIMA will not support dotmobi because the Chair says so, think again – that is not a consensual or democratic approach and a chair should not make that kind of statement, should they?

  29. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Paul G said...

    @Paul W, you say “MAG/dotMobi it’s all the same thing in the context of this conversation.”

    As a member of MAG I can tell you that your attempt to make mTLD and MAG inseparable is completely misguided and is not representative of reality in any conversation. About the only things they have in common are the similar looking logo.

    I agree with you that the naming of this contest doesn’t reflect the “only .mobi” guideline and the rule will limit the quality of submissions that would otherwise qualify. As someone building .mobi websites I want my sites to be compared to the best of the best, not just the best of .mobi. That being said I respect MAG’s rule decision on their contest, it is well known what the rules are and for now I think we can all understand what impact it will have on the caliber of submissions.

    The gender issue is another matter, might as well drag race into it also. I guess a contest can only be considered fair if the judging panel has a lady and gent from each major ethnic group on the planet. Oh my, I forgot to include age and economic status, this “fair” panel is going to get huge. This attempt to smear the contest over gender is simply silly.

  30. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Helene Haughney said...

    @Paul G – thank God someone from MAG commented here. I am also a member of the MAG and I can categorically state we are not part of mTLD company.

    On the lineup of speakers at the Mobile Web Event, obviously Informa selected the lineup and agenda……it really isn’t a matter of gender, it’s a matter of finding interesting, relevant companies and speakers. Oh and did I forget to mention it helps if they are willing to sponsor the event!
    @ TED – if only it were as easy as generating something constructive like a list 🙂

  31. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  Stuff you should know about trackbacks - Paul Walsh, the Irish Opportunist said...

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  32. flag
    4Avatars v0.3.1 v0.3.1  demelza said...

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