Many of the most complex systems on the web deal with naming and identity verification. If you manage a website, you’re already familiar with web URLs, IP addresses, signed SSL certificates, and perhaps cryptocurrency addresses. But what if you could have a single name that links to all of your online identities, an identifier that is uniquely yours and tied to your social media handles and domain names? And what if, instead of web addresses and numbers, your identifier looked something like this: 🌊 🍳 🐘?
That’s the goal of a new online naming system called Yat. A yat is a string of up to six emoji that form an emoji identifier. Each is unique, and users can connect their yat to data associated with their online identity. You might link your Yat address to social media handles or your website, but Yat also supports other data types, including cryptocurrency addresses and even arbitrary chunks of text.
The Yat team aims to create an easy-to-use, universal, and instantly recognizable online name. Users choose the emoji that best express their identity, and they can use that uniquely personal symbol anywhere on the web.
How Do Yats Work?
Yat is a company that develops the software and infrastructure to support Yat emoji identifiers. Yat is not the first implementation of this idea. You can also use emoji-based identifiers on the Ethereum blockchain with the Ethereum Name Service. But Ethereum-backed emoji identifiers are complicated to set up and use. In contrast, Yat aims to simplify the user experience so people who aren’t steeped in crypto culture and blockchain technology can take advantage of emoji identifiers.
Yats are based on a key-value database. The Yat is the key, and the values are emoji ID records, which can include many different record categories. We’ve already mentioned some of them, but the complete list, which is likely to grow, includes:
- Website URLs
- Social media handles
- Cryptocurrency addresses
- Payment rail handles
- Email addresses
- Domain name system fields
- Arbitrary text data
The domain name system fields may be of particular interest to cPanel & WHM users. Yat supports a comprehensive range of DNS records, including A records, CNAMEs, and mail exchange (MX) records. In theory, that means Yat could replace some aspects of the domain name system, similar to the decentralized domain names we discussed in an earlier article. However, the centralized infrastructure hosted at the y.at domain only supports simple redirects. Yat is an early-stage alpha project, and its infrastructure doesn’t yet match the project’s ambitions.
Are YATs NFTs?
If you’re interested in blockchain technology, you’ll have noticed that we haven’t talked about how Yats are implemented. They seem an ideal application for a blockchain distributed ledger. However, the current implementation is not based on a blockchain. The key-value store uses a Merkle tree data structure stored on centralized infrastructure managed by the Yat business.
We discussed using blockchains to store and manage identifiers at length in What Is a Decentralized Domain Name System? As a decentralized, distributed, and tamper-proof public ledger, blockchains store identifiers and associated data in a system that doesn’t depend on a single company’s infrastructure and intentions. As with NFTs, which we explored in What Is an NFT? Non-Fungible Tokens Explained, a blockchain could also support a reliable market in emoji identifiers, allowing for their sale and transfer.
At the time of writing, Yats have none of these qualities. The infrastructure is not distributed, and the database is not publicly verifiable. Yats cannot be transferred; in fact, the terms of service forbid selling or otherwise transferring emoji identifiers.
However, Yat emoji identifiers are in a very early stage of development, and the team is working to transition to a Tari blockchain. Tari is a digital-asset-focused blockchain protocol designed to allow users to register, purchase, and transfer assets such as event tickets and emoji identifiers.
How to Get a Yat Emoji Identifier
As an early alpha product, yats are not yet publicly available. To register a Yat, you’ll need an invite code, which you can get from a user who has codes to spare or by joining the waitlist on y.at.
In April, Yat ran an auction to sell a selection of the most desirable emoji identifiers, including single and double emoji strings. The auction was a success, with some identifiers achieving six-figure bids. For example, 🚀 🌕 sold for $200,000 and 🐑 👙—lamb bikini, advertised as the Lamborghini yat—sold for $60,000. The highest-priced to date was the golden key (🔑 ), which went for a staggering $450,000. Future auctions are likely and may be your best option if you want a short and desirable yat.
However, it’s worth remembering that people are bidding in the expectation that yats will become a salable commodity when they transfer to the Tari blockchain. It’s an effort to establish a market similar to the one that already exists for NFTs. As we mentioned above, yats are not yet based on a blockchain and can’t currently be sold.
If you’re tempted to join the waitlist, there’s one other limitation of which you should be aware. Some emoji can’t be used in a yat. Technical limitations and security issues mean you’ll have to choose from an approved list. You can’t use country flags because they’re difficult to distinguish and might be used in phishing attacks. The same is true for emoji with multiple color variations, such as the ❤️ 💙 💜 heart emoji. Only the red heart can appear in a yat. Perhaps most unfortunately, Yat doesn’t support modifiable emoji, including gender or race modifiers.
Yat is a fascinating variation on online identifiers, particularly its goal of creating an emoji identifier ecosystem non-technical people can use to create expressive and universally recognizable names. However, it will be some time before Yat migrates to a blockchain and fulfills the system’s early promise.
As always, if you have any feedback or comments, please let us know. We are here to help in the best ways we can. You’ll find us on Discord, the cPanel forums, and Reddit. Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.