This document reserves the .alt label for use as an unmanaged pseudo-TLD namespace. The .alt label can be used in any domain name as a pseudo-TLD to signify that this is an alternative (non-DNS) namespace and should not be looked up in a DNS context.
This document uses ".alt" for the pseudo-TLD in the presentation format for the DNS, corresponding to a 0x03616c7400 suffix in DNS wire format. The on-the-wire formats for non-DNS protocols might be different.
Because names beneath .alt are in an alternative namespace, they have no significance in the regular DNS context. DNS stub and recursive resolvers do not need to look them up in the DNS context.
DNS resolvers that serve the DNS protocol and non-DNS protocols at the same time might consider .alt like a DNS entry in the "Transport-Independent Locally-Served DNS Zone Registry" that is part of IANA's "Locally-Served DNS Zones" registry, except that .alt is always used to denote names that are to be resolved by non-DNS protocols. Note that this document does not request adding .alt to these registries because .alt, by this specification, is not a DNS name.
Note that using .alt as a pseudo-TLD does not mandate how the non-DNS protocol will handle the name. To maximize compatibility with existing applications, it is suggested, but not required, that non-DNS protocols using names that end in .alt follow DNS name syntax. If the non-DNS protocol has a wire format like the DNS wire format, it might append the null label at the end of the name, but it also might not. This document does not make any suggestion for how non-DNS protocols deal with the wire format of their names.
Groups wishing to create new alternative namespaces may create their alternative namespace under a label that names their namespace under the .alt pseudo-TLD. This document defines neither a registry nor a governance model for the .alt namespace, as it is not managed by the IETF or IANA. There is no guarantee of unambiguous mappings from names to name resolution mechanisms. Mitigation or resolution of collisions that occur under .alt are outside the scope of this document and outside the IETF's remit. Users are advised to consider the associated risks when using names under .alt.
Regardless of the expectations above, names in the .alt pseudo-TLD will leak outside the context in which they are valid. Decades of experience show that such names will appear at recursive resolvers and will thus also appear at the root servers for the global DNS.
Sending traffic to the root servers that is known to always elicit an NXDOMAIN response, such as queries for names ending in .alt, wastes resources on both the resolver and the root server. Caching resolvers performing aggressive use of DNSSEC-validated caches (described in [RFC 8198
]) may mitigate this by synthesizing negative answers from cached NSEC records for names under .alt. Similarly, caching resolvers using QNAME minimization (described in [RFC 9156
]) will cause less of this traffic to the root servers because the negative responses will cover all names under .alt.
Currently deployed projects and protocols that are using pseudo-TLDs are recommended to move under the .alt pseudo-TLD, but this is not a requirement. Rather, the .alt pseudo-TLD is being reserved so that current and future projects of a similar nature have a designated place to create alternative resolution namespaces that will not conflict with the regular DNS context.