Proposal for a new naming system (ELNS)


I am working on trying to develop a new naming system for IPFS. Here is the abstraction:

“Electric Light Name Service (ELNS) is a proposed utility to resolve IPNS hashs by mapping them
to human readable words. The mapping will function similar to the way DNS maps IP addresses to
domain names. However, ELNS will have one major difference, ELNS-names are not chosen, re-
quested, or purchased by the participant. Instead, nodes participating in the network will be awarded
a single randomly chosen ELNS-name. Nodes will then be required to participate on the network
to maintain their name. The core idea behind the system is to reward participation without financial
compensation or require participants to pay into the system to purchase names. We also want to
keep the barrier to entry as low as possible to allow an even playing field. This system should allow
anyone with a computer, able to run IPFS, to participate and be awarded a name.”

Please comment, shred or add to my idea. Link to full paper: /ipfs/QmeCw9s4iYAmmgB591QDwYhwqkttav9pu4hxJcEw5H5CcU

Better link for paper here seeded on cloudflare:


I’ve only read what you posted here, not the paper as a whole. I’d really like to know what you think the added value is for what you propose. I could be completely wrong but if i’m reading the quoted part correctly then you end up with a random - but persistent - name. How is that any different then a IPNS CID?

Also, in terms of the IPFS stack this ELNS would lay on top of IPNS (according to your quote). So the chain from IPFS CID to ELNS resolution would be like this:
→ IPFS CID (Qm…x) → IPNS CID (K…x) → ELNS random name (rand…om)

In strict technical terms the IPNS cid isn’t random (it’s a hash wrapped with some metadata to become a CID). But it is persistent!

It looks like they’re going for the “human meaningful” leg of Zooko’s triangle.

I guess the use case is something like: I follow a nice blog on IPFS. I don’t want to remember the IPNS key, obiously. Now, I can just remember : “en.beetle.argyle.resay.elns” and be fine.
Or: I work on a collaborative file with a colleague that is often updated. I can now just remember the ELNS address and type it in any (IPFS compatible) browser from any computer.
Something like that.

Exactly, trying to remember a bunch of CID’s is not human friendly. Not to mention sharing or promoting your site.

Also, think about something like a distributed database or some other type of app that requires some kind of common storage. You could do this with an ELNS address.

My 2 cents…

Personally, I would not seek to participate in a system which randomly assigns what amounts to a domain name.

The purchasing of domains is an important component of participating in distributing your information whether that be via IPFS or legacy Web. Regular domain names can be purchased for $5/year, and with _dnslink TXT records can be integrated quite easily with IPFS storage.

Secondly, there already exists a blockchain domain naming architecture, ENS.

So, the proposed ELNS doesn’t provide any new solution except randomly assigned names… which are not ideal… along with a requirement to “actively participate” in order to maintain that randomly assigned domain… doubly not ideal. I have several domain names in both ENS and DNS which are not actively used. These are not for hording or selling. I use them on and off for test purposes or running temporary data distribution in a convenient way.

In short, I don’t see the proposed ELNS as being useful for any problem that I currently have. Nor do I feel the proposal would have a large user base.

The biggest issue I’ve had with IPFS is the reliance on the public gateway system. And the proposed ELNS still relies on the public gateway system.

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On first look I tend to agree with @ipfsme .

@elns Could you explain what the key difference between ELNS and ENS would be and what use-case ELNS would cover that is not covered by ENS?

My first impression is I like the problem it’s trying to solve but not quite sure about the way it’s trying to solve it. I generally agree that it would be nice to have something more memorable and human readable than a CID. You have the use case where you want to share something with a colleague but you’re probably going to just email it to them so how is using an ELNS any easier than just copy/pasting the CID? If I take the CID out of context of the email it’s impossible to know what it’s referring to but is apple-bubble-head-puppy any easier to associate with what it’s about? I can see it being used for communicating over the phone but how often is that going to happen? In this sense it seems similar to a url shortening service.

I’m not sure I’d agree with the premise, “As in life, you don’t get to choose your name.”. Some people do choose their name. Actors and entertainers do it all the time. Reginald Kenneth Dwight => Elton John. Prince Rogers Nelson => Prince => The artist formerly known as Prince. People do it all the time when they get married.

I also don’t agree that “DNS names are valued mainly for their Vanity”.

I say cool, go for it. It would be interesting to see if people find it useful. I kind of feel like it hits an unfortunate middle ground of, “crappy names for everyone. We can’t find a way to fairly distribute names so everyone gets a bad one”

Thank you for your feedback.

I think one of the biggest issue we have today is censorship. If you think they “powers that be” won’t be able to seize your domain name, they will and they are doing it today. Also, there are people who cannot transact online because they have been de-platformed from banking. All banking. They cannot buy a domain name or maintain theirs because they have been censored by the banks. Yes, you may say some of them are “racist nazis” or “crazy anti-vaxxers” but the reality is, some are doctors or whistle blowers (Wikileaks). If they can censor people like that today, who will they censor tomorrow? None of us are immune to this. I want to build a system that will allow us to be immune to censorship.

With the ELNS system, you can still use regular domain names. However, you will always have some human memorable address folks can reach in case you are de-platformed or unable to keep your domain name.

As for entertainers choosing their names, these are not their birth names. They are “pseudonyms”. However, I do take the point. In general, most people are born with a name given to them by their parents. Most of these names are chosen before birth.

ENS requires you to purchase crypto. Most likely you will have to register with an exchange to do so. This could be a problem because that would require you to have a bank account. Many independent journalists have been de-platformed from banking (all banking). In other words, you still have to use fiat at some stage to purchase and maintain your ENS domain. This allows banks and other institutions to introduce censorship. I want to create a system completely outside of fiat and avoid that means of censorship.

It’s quite possible to purchase DNS domains using crypto. It’s also quite possible to earn crypto as payment of services rendered. Thus there is no theoretical need for a given individual to transfer funds to or from a legacy bank account in order to purchase a DNS domain name or an ENS domain.

IPFS itself requires some type of Internet WAN access. That access requires some type of payment as well… unless someone decides to host one’s files on an IPFS node running on a public WiFi network.

So, there’s an expectation of a certain amount of funds required to participate in sharing one’s thoughts or points of view with the world. The amount of funding can be reduced very slightly by removing the need to purchase a domain name either DNS or ENS or something else…

However, the economic barrier is an important one - not for censorship of competing ideas or ideals - but for a sense of ownership over the act of participating in the conversation. There’s even an economic cost to me commenting here on this “free-to-use” forum… it’s called opportunity cost.

I agree with the ideal of removing censors to information. Banning information has never gone well throughout history, and generally speaking the censors are almost always on the wrong side of history – not because the other side had the correct ideas, but because humans at the core yearn for a place to participate in free conversation and free exchange of ideas.

On the practical side, I don’t really see too much difference bookmarking an IPNS link and bookmarking a domain name containing several random words. Neither of these things are going to be easy to remember… just like I don’t remember the 12 or 15 words for any of my crypto wallet seeds.

I’m all for multiple pathways to posting information in view of the general public. I just don’t think the proposed ELNS will gain much traction, due to the complexity of the solution as well as the low economic value of what it is replacing.

I’m aware of a few high profile DNS domains that have been de-listed from their respective registrars, but I haven’t read anywhere about the multitude of low traffic domains getting censored in that way. Of course, it’s possible… but very unlikely that individuals seeking to post controversial material - whatever that may mean at the time - will not be able to post that material in a location on the Internet either using IPFS or regular micro-servers/containers or the like.

No, random is not human meaningful. They might be words but they are still random words.

Yes, hence the “going for” not achieved.