Discover what are ENS domains, if you should buy one and how you can use them.
If you spend any time on NFT Twitter, or you’re learning more about web 3.0, you’ll quickly come across people using .eth domain names. These are known as Ethereum Name Service, or ENS domains.
What exactly are they, and how can you use them? And are they a replacement for a traditional .com domain name? I purchased bryanjcollins.eth and creatoreceonomyshow.eth via the ENS domain name service to find out. I also experimented with a variety of ENS domain name use cases to explore how to use this emerging Web 3.0 technology.
Here are some of the use cases for ENS domain names that work today:
What Is an ENS Domain Name?
An Ethereum name service or ENS domain name is an alternative to the traditional domain name system (DNS). The service launched on May 4th 2017 and anyone can register an ENS domain name. Ownership and other records are verifiable via the Ethereum blockchain.
You don’t need to know the IP address of a website it, that’s what a memorable .com name is for. ENS domains are a blockchain version whereby you can use an ENS name instead of a complicated string of characters and letters.
To buy a ENS domain name, use Ethereum Name Service, Unstoppable Domains or MyEtherWallet. On first glance, buying an ENS domain name looks cheaper than a .com. However, you also must pay gas or Gwei, a fee for using the Ethereum blockchain. I spent about $90 on Gwei fees buying my ENS domain.
Getting started in the space is more expensive than acquiring a .com, at least at first. That may explain why the ENS domain name service airdropped thousands of dollars in free tokens into the wallets of early adopters last year.
Below, I explain what web 3.0 content creators and publishers can do with an ENS domain. And scroll down to see the video accompanying this post.
1. Claim a Web 3.0 Username
A .eth domain name, paired with a picture-for-profile NFT, demonstrates you’re involved in the NFT or web 3.0 space to followers. As a username, it’s instantly recognisable to those in the know. Consider it part of the culture of web 3.0. After purchasing an ENS domain, you can associate with:
- A website URL
- Twitter profile
- Email address
- Discord handle
- Telegram handle
Associating an avatar with an ENS domain name is particularly useful. Essentially, this step links a verified picture-for-profile NFT that you own with an ENS address. Your avatar then appears on OpenSea and other web 3.0 properties.
Check out this guide for adding an avatar.
2. Create a Pseudonymous Online Identity
A .eth domain is a way of creating a pseudonym or online person. You can accumulate a reputation and grow a following around this online avatar while maintaining your privacy. Associating a picture-for-profile NFT with an ENS domain fuels this process.
Spend any time in Discord communities or on Twitter, and you’ll quickly come across people using NFTs as picture-for-profiles. Many add their .eth or ENS domains in their handle or bio to build their avatar’s credibility.
The pseudonymous use case has huge demand. Reddit, for example, claims over 400 million anonymous users. It’s also a great way of building an identity that’s free of stereotypes around race, gender or background.
3. Inspect The Contents of An Ethereum Wallet’s Contents
If an Ethereum address is associated with an ENS domain name, you can inspect its contents using the Etherscan Blockchain Explorer.
Typically, you usually paste in an Ethereum address to view transactions and holdings. But if I paste in an Ethereum Name Service address, I can see all of the transactions on a particular wallet too.
I can also see any associated text records like a website URL or Twitter profile. In short, it’s verifiable proof about what an address claims to represent. If you want to see the NFTs inside a particular wallet, paste the address into rainbow.me.
So, find your favorite NFT influencer on Twitter, take their handle and paste it into either service to see what tokens, coins and NFTs they hold, at least in their public-facing wallet.
4. As An NFT
ENS domains are registered using the ER-721 standard. In short, they operate much like NFTs. You can store, transfer, and trade them in the same way. You can also these non-fungible tokens as a type of investment.
It’ll be interesting to see how big the secondary market for ENS domain names becomes. For example, some optimistic ENS owners listed Amazon.eth and Nike.eth for $1million and $4 million, respectively.
5. Send and Receive Crypto and NFTS
You can use an ENS domain to receive cryptocurrencies from others. Followers can also send ENS domain name holders tips to support their work. For example, I add addresses for my Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets to my .Eth domain. I can also add a Litecoin and DOGE addresses.
Now, someone can send relevant crypto using my ENS domain name rather than a complicated address. I can also use it to transfer crypto. It’s much easier remembering bryanjcollins.eth than a long series of numbers and letters, which are easily mixed up.
NFT investors also use these domains to transfer purchases from one wallet to another. I purchased a relatively inexpensive NFT called CryptoApes via my Metamask software wallet to test this out. I pasted in my ENS address into OpenSea and transferred this NFT to my other wallet safely.
6. Build a Web 3.0 Publication
Creators can associate an ENS domain name with web 3.0 website. You can also associate one with publishing and decentralized social (DeSo) platforms.
Examples include Steemit, Bitclout, and Mirror.xyz. Although it only launched in 2020, Mirror is more established than its competitors. It’s a publishing and distribution platform for writers and content creators. You can use it to:
- Launch a web 3.0 blog
- To distribute writings via the blockchain
- Launched NFTs based on the written word
- Create personal coins readers fans can buy
I created my Mirror account and linked my publication to my ENS address. This DeSo platform then added this domain URL to my publication. However, there’s a big caveat to web 3.0 blogging and publishing.
Although ENS domain name ownership is verifiable on the blockchain, acquiring one doesn’t grant copyright ownership of a brand name or intellectual property either. Building a web 3.0 website doesn’t translate into organic search traffic either.
For example, if I run a site search for this website, I can see all indexed content as it’s a traditional .com. However, Google doesn’t index content on a .eth domain correctly. So, don’t expect lots of organic search traffic for your Web 3.0 blog or site, at least not yet.
7. Complement Your .Com Property
A .ENS domain name pairs nicely with a traditional .com property, but it doesn’t replace one.
Traditionally, a content creator or web publisher buys a domain name using a registrar service like Namecheap like GoDaddy, links it to their hosting provider, and launches a site. Registering a traditional domain name costs approximately $5-15 per year, assuming you can find a suitable and available name.
An ENS domain name isn’t meant as a top-level domain system either. If you paste an ENS domain into Google Chrome, it will have trouble resolving it unless you add HTTPS.
That said, the ENS domain name service explicitly calls out that .eth domains are censorship-resistant and can’t be cancelled, unlike a .com.
8. Create an ENS Subdomain
You may be wondering what is an ENS subdomain? An ENS subdomain is an addition to a primary blockchain domain name.
As the owner of an ENS domain, you can pick any subdomain that works for your brand or business.
A subdomain works similarly to a primary ENS domain. You can add wallet addresses for Ethereum, Bitcoin, Litcoin, and Doge as well as various text records. Adding sub-domains is useful for managing multiple wallets.
You could give employees or team members within your company their own subdomains. For example, I created a subdomain like pay.bryanjcollins.eth as a sub-domain. I can use this sub-domain to manage a different Ethereum wallet. Remember, creating a sub-domain incurs gas fees.
You could also sell subdomains on a secondary marketplace. I’m a member of the Cyberkongz NFT community and the project plans on selling .Kongs ENS subdomains with its NFTS.
9. For Future-Proofing
If you’re serious about building a platform in Web 3.0 or you simply want to get more involved in the space, you’ll need to acquire a .Eth domain. This service has first mover advantage over less-known or used alternatives.
That said, after buying several ENS domains, Ethereum is only only one blockchain, and it’s expensive to use. Over the coming years, it’ll be interesting to see if other web 3.0 domain name services become more popular and widely accepted.
However, content creators and publishers today still need a traditional .com, .io, .net, or another widely accepted top-level domain name for their personal brand or business. So, buy both if you can.
Learn more about the bullish case for NFTS.
ENS Domains: The Final Word
ENS domain names may represent the future of web 3.0 for website owners. Today, you can use a .ETH domain name for sending and receiving cryptocurrency. They’re also a way of claiming an identity online and for managing your NFTs.
They also have several other technical use cases too. For example, many developers and project owners use ENS domain names to build decentralized applications (dAaps) and websites.
Buying an ENS domain name is a good step into Web 3.0. Purchase it for several years to reduce gas fees. Then, go and create!