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The Internet

ICANN Moves To Disable Domain Tasting 137

jehnx writes "Following Google's crackdown on 'domain tasters', ICANN has voted unanimously to eliminate the free period that many domain buyers have been taking advantage of. At the same meeting they also discussed Network Solutions' front running but took no action on it."
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ICANN Moves To Disable Domain Tasting

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  • Network Solutions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:14AM (#22233360)
    Network Solutions recently released a comment on their supposedly unscrupulous business practices []. They claim that their automatic registration of domain names that were searched for was an effort to stem the problem of domain tasters. I have a hard time believing that.
  • Where's the tag? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:21AM (#22233406)
    I expected to see a 'suddenoutbreakofcommonsense' tag on this one, but maybe I saw it before it had time to be tagged.

    In this case, it doesn't seem to be a sudden outbreak, though... Reading the notes (yeah, I RTFA) I can see that with the possible exception of Bruce Tonkin (who dropped off the call because of possible conflict of interest, thus making him a good guy no matter his opinion on this matter) everyone agreed that any measure except removing of the Add Grace Period (AGP) would be ineffective and only cause other harm to the community.

    It's also obvious from the notes that they've spent no little time thinking about this, and they had their arguments ready. And when talking was done, they were ready to do the right thing. All of them, unanimously.

    It was unclear whether the 21-day period was in effect, though... They talked about having to notify the public of policy changes 21 days in advance or more. Even if it is, 3 weeks is pretty short.
  • Is domain tasting really the most important problem that ICANN could sink its teeth into?

    I say no.

    ICANN has the role of accreditation of domain name registrars themselves (particularly for .com, .net, .org, .info domains). But yet they chose to remain toothless in all but the most very extreme cases of bad registrar services.

    Bad registrars, such as,, and more recently, are willing partners in the international spamming epidemic. They have or still do sell domains to computer criminals, willingly accepting bogus data from these criminals in exchange for a kickback.

    If ICANN really wants to make a positive difference on the internet, they need to flex their muscle and make use of their ability to un-accredit bad registrars. Why they continue to neglect the opportunity to do so is beyond me.

  • Fantastic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ps236 ( 965675 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:25AM (#22233442)
    Now, we just need all the rest of the ccTLD registries to do the same, and spammers' lives will get that little bit harder.

  • by StringBlade ( 557322 ) * on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:52AM (#22233624) Journal

    I wonder what impact this will have on registrars such as who (according to Wikipedia []) have 55.1 million domain names registered a year of which 51.5 million are canceled and refunded just before the 5 day grace period.

    While doesn't get to keep that money, it does generate a revenue flow. That is, must return the money, but there's no requirement to cut a check that day. It may be a week or three before has to cut a refund check. In the meantime they have money to work with much like banks do. Most businesses operate on revenue flow and not strictly the net balance they have available at any one time.

    If ICANN drops this grace period and domain tasters drop away (possible if unlikely) that leaves with 51.5 million domains at $10 per domain (or $515 million) in revenue flow that just dried up. That's a lot of money to just disappear from your business finances.

    IANAA, but I think that this decision will have the most impact on large registrars. Perhaps a one day grace period for people who honestly made a mistake would have been more appropriate. One day is not enough to get a domain properly "tasted" because it takes about that long for the DNS entry to propagate through the network, and by the time it was out the domain would either be permanent or gone.

  • Re:Network Solutions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @09:53AM (#22233632) Homepage
    Well what if you don't intend to register but just want to see if the domain is available. Without restrictions against the likes of NetworkSolutions, could do the exact same thing, and the whole registration process would go downhill really fast. Couldn't you just do a DNS request to see if a domain is taken? Is it a requirement that if you have registered a domain, to have a DNS server?
  • Re:Network Solutions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hankwang ( 413283 ) * on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @10:01AM (#22233698) Homepage

    Couldn't you just do a DNS request to see if a domain is taken?

    Normally you use whois (which exists as a commandline tool), but you can also use DNS, for example

    dig (*ux)
    nslookup -type=ns (works with Windows)
    Of course, you have to trust the organisation that's at the other end of your query. It is possible that some domain owners count DNS requests. There are fewer organisations that manage the Whois database.
  • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @11:34AM (#22234582)
    Along with many others, I deplored Network Solutions' preemptive domain registration which took advantage of domain tasting. However as a former beneficiary of the present domain tasting policy, I can see at least one benefit to consumers (and businesses) that gets overlooked because of the audacity of Network Solutions' behavior.

    About a year ago I registered a domain that had a transliteration of a foreign word. I discovered, within a few hours, that my transliteration was not the preferred spelling (for example, "perogi" as opposed to the preferred "pirogi"). I asked my registrar to refund my money for the first domain and registered the domain with the preferred spelling.

    Honest mistake and no one was harmed in the process of deleting the undesired domain. Sure, I could have researched that transliterated word before registration but it simply did not occur to me that a spelling which in my day (yeah, I'm over 40) was correct would have been superseded. (Sort of like finding out BBQ is actually spelled "barbecue".)
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @11:36AM (#22234598) Homepage Journal
    If you can invent a name, that's great.

    Often you can't. The product already exists, or the family isn't willing to change its surname just because of your domain-name suggestions.

    For example, if I ever wanted to make my game (see below) commercial, then would be the obvious website. Except that it's been an "under construction", "coming soon" links/ads/search site, and has been like that for years. There's even advertisement for the "free domain name registration" (aka tasting) in the fucking WHOIS entry.

    So I'll have to change the name that all my players are used to, or use a not-so-obvious one instead, even though nobody is using the one that I could use.

    And that's why, refering to another comment, just 3.5 mio. honest registrations a years is a log better than 51 mio. "tastings" and 3.5 mio. honest ones.
  • by Doctor O ( 549663 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @11:41AM (#22234638) Homepage Journal
    I don't know US law, but I'm pretty sure this is illegal in one way or another.

    If I were someone who loses a legitimate domain name I wanted to register to such fraud, I'd go to court and demonstrate how NSI systematically abuses its power of being able to register domains for free in order to force people to register domains through them. I'm sure even if it's not extortion, it's anti-competitive at least...
  • I don't know who they would get this information.

    That is a valid point, certainly. However, for many of the criminals, there are some obvious patterns involved. In particular, the criminals generally purchase several dozen (or more?) domains in a single day. If you are aware of a good reason why a legitimate business or individual would want to do such a thing, I'm interested in hearing it.

    Second, many of these criminals do keep the same name and registration data as they move from one registrar to another. For example, "Leo Kuvayev" has been using the alias "Alex Rodrigez" (note the spelling) for several years now. And over the past three registrars, he as always claimed to live in Lappeenranta, Finland.

    So if the registrar started by taking notice of the red flag that should come up when someone registers a large number of domains with very different names, and then they took 5 seconds to do a google search on the contact data, they'd see that they are selling to a known criminal.

    If I was on that jury that was trying to convict the registrar of negligence, I'd need to see some more direct evidence showing that it was practical for them to screen criminals, and that it was part of their responsibilities.

    ICANN does state that the registrars are obligated to keep valid WHOIS records [] on the domains they sell. And it really isn't that hard for them to check against publicly available data on their customers when they get unusual requests.

    I'm even willing to concede that they shouldn't be expected to check every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Jane that buys a domain. When I've checked the WHOIS records of the spamvertised domains that I see, I would say that over 80% of spamvertised domains are registered to less than 5% of all spamvertised domain registrants, and through less than 2% of all accredited registrars. If the registrars were at least held accountable to check the data on their customers that make unusually large purchases, we could do a lot to stem the current problem.

  • The downside to this is that .com needs to be international and some countries have pretty strange looking addresses. I had a customer have his domain disabled every year when someone would look at the address (roughly translated as three houses over from the post office) and disable the domain for having a fake address even though the customer was getting mail at that address.
  • Re:Network Solutions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by initialE ( 758110 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @03:19PM (#22237392)
    When domain tasting was available, the solution was simple - buy the domain, even before you decide you want it, even if it means buying several to see which one you want. It costs you nothing after all, and you can release the ones you don't want. Everyone here complains about searching for a domain before they buy it. You're not supposed to do that, you need to buy it immediately, then let go of it if you decided it wasn't the one you wanted.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.