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First Domain Registration Competition Goes Online 100

Asher Lev writes "The first competition for domain name registration is now online. They aren't offering any deals, but you can check it out anyway at "
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First Domain Registration Competition Goes Online

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Suppose I register with NSI, while someone else registers at Obviously one registration wil suceed and one will fail. The question is, who wins? Somehow I don't see both registries synching their clocks to WWV and logging all registrations to nanosecond resolution on UTC. IRC had net splits. Now we've got domain registry splits to worry about. How cooperative are these places with each other anyway?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What happened to the other group? I thought there were supposed to be 4 or 5 companies registering?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I never thought that price was a problem. $35/yr isn't an egregious amount of money to pay.

    The big problem is the lack of good names. I thought this was supposed to be attacked by 7 new top level domains like .firm, .info, .web, etc.

    Does anyone know what ever happened to the new domains?

  • Yup, here's the code chunk

    whois.cgi.990607:if ($domain=~ /^(shit|tits|piss)/i ) {

    There security is really horrible. I mean, really really bad. I wouldn't trust them one bit.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A quick thing I wrote to discuss this, I'm out of time (have other things to do), but some of you might find this a good read:

    It discusses why this "competitive" market, is in fact, not competitive.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Last time I registered a hostname with, I was bombarded with email
    solicitations for web hosting, site creation
    software, etc, etc. It's the same old crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Your discussion seems to assume that there will be a limited number of companies that will be selling domains. It's true that the current test phase only allows in five companies, but once the test is finished any company that can gain accredidation from ICANN can sell domains. Last I heard there were about 30 more companies lined up.

    NSI does maintain a monopoly on the .com, .net and .org databases and will be charging the registrars a yearly fee ($7/domain? I forget.) to "administer" it, so there will be a floor price domain registration, but once large numbers of companies have the right to modify the database, prices should drop to more appropriate, commodity levels.

  • by Special J ( 641 )
    I've waited all this I can register a domain! I just refused to give NSI my cash.

    Anybody know's price tag for a domain? Or is the same?
  • Posted by Nina Simone:

    I registered two domains with them last month with zero problems and no additional cost. They even parked them for free.

    The sole problem is they had a sales rep call to pitch their hosting & ecommerce services. He was friendly, smart and wasn't pushy when I said no.

    I love having an alternative and will use them again.
  • A .nu domain is $25 for one year.
  • Before, they'd just been a hand-holding service -- you could "register" domains through them, and they'd hand the paperwork to NSI.


  • very interesting logic. especially the "i cant start a domain registrar, and neither can you, so no one can". it doesnt take all that much money or expertise to do this, and properly planned, could probably gain venture capitalists quickly..

  • All of the "Registrars" (currently NSI and are using a central db called the "Shared Registry System", which is currently maintained by NSI. The Registry is the db of record for .com, .net, and .org, and registers domains on a first come first serve basis. See
  • I was ready to be the first to start using another registrar (*any* other registrar) besides NSI, but doesn't seem to be trying to differentiate themselves at all. In particular, they have picked up NSI's evil dispute resolution policy more or less verbatim, meaning anyone with a trademark who covets your domain name can screw you over, even if they can't make a credible claim of trademark infringement.

    If any other potential registrars are reading this, please consider the following approaches to differentiating yourselves from those evil bastards at NSI:

    • Charge a *reasonable* renewal fee.
    • Commit to maintaining a domain name in the face of trademark infringement claims until or unless a court of appropriate jurisdiction tells you otherwise.
    • Train your customer service reps to treat customers like customers.
    Hopefully one or more of the new registrars will be willing to do one or more of these things.

    I *hate* NSI.

  • ICANN sets the dispute resolution procedure - and it's worse than you could possibly imagine. If an international corp wants your private domain, you might as well give it up.
  • The "new" TLDs (.firm, .web, etc.) were never sent through any standards body. Frankly they were a bad idea from a rather arrogant company (AlterNIC) that a lot of people thought was creating a new standard because they saw "NIC" in it.
  • I went to check out a few weeks ago (back when the competition plan was first announced). In looking at the TLDs they register for, I was struck by the following entry:

    TLD: .md
    Price: $299/1 year as of April 02, 1999
    Country: Moldova
    Comment: Intended for use by the medical profession

    Quick, somebody tell the people in Moldova their entire country is part of the medical profession...

  • Seems they're having server problems; most CGI's give internal server errors. *sigh* Can't even find out the prices! (although I saw $35/yr mentioned in another article; it's less than both the old service and a lot less than the .uk service)
  • Hrm, would that mean a dog lover wouldn't be able to register (Note: It seems this isn't registered yet, so any shitsu owners can feel free to register it. I know I don't want it)
  • Maybe got slashdotted already.

    When I go there, all I see is, is currently upgrading its systems. Service has been temporarily disrupted. We apologize for this inconvenience.
  • .us domains are free and ugly.

    They look like:

    Full name, town, state. So farewell to any privacy about personal information, plus no indication of content of your domain unless you're a k12 school.

  • Am I the only one who thought this was some sort of "first one to register wins a prize" deals?
  • Actually I believe there is a review going on about the .ca domain names and it is very likely that they will no longer be free. They are talking about a $10-20 Canadian Fee
  • Gee, it sounds like someone has been there.
    Either that, or someone who's remarkably prescient.
    Somehow, I get the feeling that there are other people out there who might feel like saying the same thing as Benedict. Or maybe not.
  • A little too popular. Or maybe just the usual /. effect.

  • That's actually what my first thought was... Hehe.

    Puzzling over how it would work until I read the article body.

  • I was all psyched about getting but alas it appears to be taken already. Damn it.

    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • Actually, they were one of 5 official registrars for the test phase which began March 31. I took advantage of their service May 5. Let's hear it for competition.

  • Ok, I missed the correct date but here's the url:
  • Yeah, that's what I understood at first as well. Then I realized that it meant competition between organizations that provide domain name registration.
  • OK, things are getting clearer. They seem to be trying to claim ownership of the whois data relating to their own domain registration services, as opposed to the base data held by the registry (which they currently operate). This is not totally unreasonable, and I certainly would prefer that people not harvest my address from NSI's whois and sell it...but what I really want is for that data to be accessible only in a more controlled fashion. I also want the opportunity to review, update, and delete that data (or switch to another registrar with a strong privacy policy), since when I gave it originally I didn't have any choice in the matter...

    The base registry information (basically, the name servers for the domain and who the responsible registrar is) is available separately from NSI's whois, on a web page at []. I'm not sure whether I think their consequent hijacking of the whois gateway that all our whois commands point to by default is good, but at least in the open source community we can fix that problem quickly if we decide to. On the other hand, since NSI is probably not going to be running the registry long term, '' is an odd choice of domain name.

    We are a long way from this multiple-registrar stuff working smoothly!! But, in the long run I think it will be better than what we have now. The transition is going to be painful and confusing, though.


  • So I do a normal, workaday 'whois' query, and today it says at the bottom:

    You agree that you will not reproduce, sell, transfer, or modify any of the data presented in response to your search request, or use of any such data for commercial purpose, without the prior express written permission of Network Solutions.

    Well, I most certainly do NOT agree! How can my tech support people help our domain customers if we can't make "commercial use" of the informtation returned by a whois query, for gnu's sake? There's noplace *else* to get this info. I just check, and their whois page just queries the NSI database, and that same message shows up at the bottom of the response screen. Which, I'm sure, is why NSI put it there.

    NSI has been trying to claim that they have a compilation copyright (or something like that) on the current database. This smells like an attempt to assert that, and I sure hope the stuff hits the fan over this.

    This is intolerable.


  • I mean, isn't the whole point basically the database, and isn't that a natural monopoly?

    I thought most people were faulting NSI's database administration more than any other part of their business - mainly because that /is/ their business.

    So what's the point of having "competition" when the only value added a competitor can bring to the table is friendlier web forms?


  • It's a natural monopoly because only one entity can manage the database - there can only be one, for instance, therefore there can only be one database, not different ones for each registering entity.


  • I think varesearch [] hosts opensource projects for free as a community service.
  • by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @07:46PM (#1862491) Journal

    Actually, if it would improve the service, most would be happy to pay $100 or more. Charging less than a hardcover book for a domain name only benefits the squatters and overloads the system.
  • Why not everyone get together, compile an open (but controlled) database (similar to the cddb situation) and spontaneously replace internic? If nobody points their DNS to internic, it doesn't exist and we rid ourselves of NetworkSolutions. I have been trying to get changes through on a new domain since close to 19 May. No luck yet.

    Also, if nobody challenges the notice at the bottom of the whois results soon, I don't think the courts will be disagreeing with it as much in the future.
  • The only way this company can survive is offering incredible customer service. I'm personally quite surprised they're charging the same price. I suppose they don't want to get into a rate war, which they'd loose since they don't have a foothold yet.

    I see no reason to use them yet. If they don't offer SOME form of incentive to use them, they'll die.
  • the great compitition that many people expected. But it's a start. 70$ for a domain instead of 75$ over at NSI is still a savings...five dollars can put a gallon or two of gas in my car..but it's a start. Hopefully more companies will get on it and we'll end up with more higher level domains and a little more choice in our domain names, along with a smaller price tag. it's not alot but it's a start.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @01:15PM (#1862495) Journal

    They already have 741984 domains registered? I didn't think that they had been around long enough for that. Have they pre-registered a bunch of likely names and will then pass them on to the visitors to their site? That would be domain name squatting on their part.

    Or is the 741984 value the total number of domain names registered on the entire 'net, including those registered by NSI? In that case, they really shouldn't have that number on their page. I mean, I could start a hamburger stand and put up a sign saying "Billions and Billions sold", but that doesn't mean that I did the selling of them.

  • One would at least think would delete or somehow secure their scripts from the world. Kinda cool seeing how part of their system works. And it confirms they're censoring registration requests even though they deny such action. The script doesn't lie :-;'s censoring code snipit:

    if ($domain=~ /^(shit|tits|piss)/i ) {
    $ERROR_MESSAGE = "The domain you have chosen is not available.";
    return $ERROR_MESSAGE;
    elsif ($domain=~ /(shit|tits|piss)$/i ) {
    $ERROR_MESSAGE = "The domain you have chosen is not available.";
    return $ERROR_MESSAGE;
    elsif ($domain=~ /fuck|cunt|cocksucker|motherfucker/i) {
    $ERROR_MESSAGE = "The domain you have chosen is not available.";
    return $ERROR_MESSAGE;
  • First off continues to censors registration requests even for domain names that NSI itself will register!!

    Try registering SHITSDAASDASD.COM or some similar variation at and it will say the name isn't available even though it really is. Then goto NSI and try registering the same domain and select 'Reserve' and you'll find it works as it should since NSI removed the SHIT filter awhile back.

    Appearantly isn't up to speed and when I emailed yesterday, they denied they are rejecting registration *requests* based on profane keywords even though they really are.

    A more disturbing problem is that has *appearantly* blacklisted some people preventing them from registering domains through them (not sure the exact machanism, but assume it's either done via email address and/or phone#). Perhaps, this is just bad luck, but my personal experience suggests otherwise. Anyone else experience similar problems, please post and/or email me.

    Bottom line is until gets their customer service and their policies straight, I'd strongly recommend people to avoid them.

    At least NSI is a known quantity and while their service isn't great, they for the most part have done a decent job. So for now I'm sticking with NSI until there's a compelling reason to switch to another registrar - ie. better price and/or extra services.

    Ron Bennett
  • I see the fact that they are "not NSI" as a great incentive to use them.

    NSI has been nothing but evil incarnate (ok, well maybe that's an exaggeration, but not quite) in the way it has treated domain registrars. If all things are equal and I despise one registrar (NSI) the other wins by default.
  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <> on Monday June 07, 1999 @01:36PM (#1862499) Homepage
    ... can they take "existing" domains and do the renewals for them, or do I have to take a chance by letting my current domain "Expire", enter it as new with and "hope" that nobody grabs it in the mean-time?

    I'd LOVE to start dumping money somewhere OTHER than NSI, but I'm not about to chance losing my domain to do it.

    Their site doesn't seem to make any mention of that and you would THINK they'd also be trying to make some go of grabbing renewal profits if they could do so...
  • "vast knowledge"? I think you're half right.
  • Not to me. I guess Rob and I were thinking the same.

  • Every time that pops up on my screen, I fire off a message to NSI saying
    1. I don't agree and
    2. by reading my message they agree to send me $10 to the address below.
    So far all I have to show for it is
    1. a warm fuzzy feeling, followed by
    2. receipts from their 'bot, followed by
    3. form letters saying that because I didn't mention a specific domain they cannot help me (so next time I mention one, ok?), and
    4. something to show a jury in the very unlikely chance I ever want to.

    If I get really motivated, next month I send a request for payment with interest, but probably not. Life is short....

    A. Michael Froomkin [mailto]
    U. Miami School of Law,POB 248087
    Coral Gables, FL 33124,USA

  • The problem with the new registrars is that they still have to go through Network Solutions' horrible database system. Almost every problem I've had with my domains has been due to records not being changed in the NSI db, usually without any indication of what was wrong, and sometimes with no indication either way for days. I have friends that have sat for weeks while their dns change forms get denied over and over again.

    NSI's customer service is terrible, and I'd love to use another company that placed importance on customer satisfaction, but if you're having problems changing records on your dotcom records, I don't know how a second party like can help.

    If NSI allowed a competing firm to build a web interface that let you edit your records directly (instead of having to use antiquated e-mail forms with cryptic functions and names all over them), I'd move my domains to the new firm immediately. But NSI has registered over 5 million domains (and making half a million a day on registration fees!) and wants to continue doing so, so you'll never see a competing firm offering more features, a better interface, or a price less than $35/yr.

    It's called a monopoly, and I think Network Solutions enjoys that status immensely.
  • But I guess registering in the .com domain is cheaper than the .ac (Ascension Island) domain.
  • by Mephistoph ( 20303 ) on Tuesday June 08, 1999 @12:27AM (#1862505) Homepage
    i believe you can find it at []. I had to go through the regisration process to find it.
  • I have registered 4 domains for my business over the past week, and the final confirmation for each one came within 20 minutes. It used to take several days. As much as I hate NSI, I have to hand it to them - their response time has improved.

    I haven't had to deal with their customer service... from my past experiences with them it has a *long* way to go before it would even be considered equal to that of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (lowest possible denominator).

    Perhaps they have turned a new leaf now that they have competition. However, as far as I'm concerned, it's too little too late. They should have done this at least a year ago. Unless they lower their prices, I will be taking my business to

  • by elixir ( 21353 )
    I knew it. Someone got and already! =)

  • Actually, it has gone to a standards body ... I found the old story I was looking at:,4,3 5221,00.html []

    But it's still very sketchy. It's going to have to happen someday, just like IPv6, namespace is just pitiful right now.

  • by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @02:40PM (#1862509) Journal
    I was hoping they would have new TLDs ... where is -definitive- information on what new TLDs are going to be proffered and when they will activate?
  • you'll never see a competing firm offering more features, a better interface, or a price less than $35/yr.

    Personally I would be willing to pay up to $100 a year if there was good service/interface I have been requesting since january to have my conformation permissions changed and have not heard a word from NSI/internic. Would switch in a heart beat.. even repay the 2 year price if I can be allowed to change my info instantly and easily.
  • ...If their customer service is better than NSI (and how could it not be?), they'll make a killing, even if they do charge the same price.
  • They're still using Network Solutions' proprietary lookup database for their queries.

  • I know at least one group that recently registered domains, and in the interim between registering and redirecting the DNS, the "We recently reistered through" screen was in its place. This was before supposedly went "online" in the registering biz.

    They also registered all of,, and, even though they're really just and .org. I haven't been able to convince anyone that that was a stupid thing to do. (Not much chance of someone else wanting, either, is there?)

    But it does appear that NSI grabbed at least one domain that people had been banging down the doors for and that they had refused to give out, about two weeks before went official.

    As for domain registrars registering queried names, well, I wouldn't be surprised if most domainmongers do that if the name looks useful to them.

    Could legally charge a higher price for one domain than their posted rate for registration?


  • So someone explain to me what the Big Change is. I've been seeing new domains with the dummy screen on them for weeks now. Seems to me they've been happily registering domains for at least a month.

    So what's the difference? They even call themselves "the first domain registrar to register domain names." Huh? Isn't that a redundancy? Doubletalk even?

    Don't expect this to help any of those nagging NS censorship issues... since we should probably assume that NS bought all the leftover dirty ones themselves recently. Goodness, what if had allowed someone to buy the mother('er)-of-all-domains?


  • Uhhh for the rest of the world, the fee is $70 at InterNIC\Network Solutions. Is now, always has been, probably will be for a while. *poof* and his imaginary gallon of gasoline then disappeared into the ether.
  • Congratulations, you've "won" against NSI, only if your name is still available that is...

    Price is same....

    Pettiness smites all with its stupidity.

  • Until today, has been only an intermediary between you and NSI's registrar services. Now is itself a registrar, but still has to deal with NSI as the registry. That would be a great improvement if their dispute resolution requirements for domain name/trademark holder disputes are more reasonable than NSI's. doesn't make their User Agreement easy to find on their site, anyone know where it can be located?
  • uhm.. Ever hear of AlterNic?

    Obviously, the problem is that people are NOT going to get together, compile an open database, and switch to it. Not enough, anyway.
  • by Katanji ( 37150 )
    I was under the impression that the whole point of having domain registration competitors was to improve service and prices. NSI has, to a degree, improved their service since they found out they were going to lose their monopoly. I recently changed the NS records on five domains. I had confirmation for 4 of the domain changes within 20 minutes. The fifth domain took 45 days, with an email complaint after thirty, and a telephone call (with a 45 minute long-distance hold) on the 42nd day. So, better, but not great yet. But I don't see how NSI has anything to fear from as yet. The web site looks like it's easier to navigate, but since their using NSI's records, and they don't have NSI's system, some features you have to go to NSI for anyway. How would the telco's survive if you had to get some features from BellSouth to fully utilize BellAtlantic?
  • Notice all the different TLDs they offer registration for... They just got the .com/org/net/edu stuff now... maybe they've had the others for a while.
  • this anonymous coward lameness situation is getting worse and worse.
  • Yes, NSI has been hoping to keep their WhoIs database as some sort of propietary treasure left over from their monopoly days. What i want to knoi, thjough, is there anything to stop ICANN, the group formed to be responsible for IP allocation, from making their own database?
  • Their news section claims that they handled 20,000 registrations in July, 1998. Their news items date back to January, 1998. What's the deal between them "going live" yesterday, and having spent a year and a half handling registrations?
  • now now... click that happy icon.... there isnt that better? no thought involved... no creativity.... just click the icons.... click the happy icons... you dont have to think or know anything.... click..... nice mousey button... clickey clickey....

    How come my toaster dont have a shutdown icon?
    I cant be expected to unplug the thing! I'm lost without pretty icons!!! Help me!!!!!!

    This scarcasim brought to you by the Letter Q.
  • In the light of Romulus' comment that evidently has been grabbing domains -- it occurs to me that they may be doing so for every available domain name that's inquired about via their web page. After all if you asked about it, you may be interested in getting it, and you may even be willing to pay more for it than the standard registration fee...

    And I've been wondering for several months why when I typo a domain, I often get a generic "wouldn't you like to register that domain name?" screen of uncertain provenance. Hmmm...

  • Thing is, AlterNic wasn't really Open Source and neutral. They were in it specifically to take down and show-up InterNic, IMHO. If a truly neutral, non-commercial, supported by a community of volunteers version of InterNic existed, it might very well work.

    'Course, again, ICANN is supposed to be that and do that in it's own way.

    We could really use Jon Postel right now, methinks.
  • The cheapest available is .ca if you're Canadian, .cx if you're from the Christmas Islands, or .us if you're American. They're all as free as can be (I think .us is free; I could be wrong). They have stricter guidelines than the paid-for ones (.ca only allows one domain name per organization), but hey: it's free.
  • So like what is the point if they all are gonna charge $70 bones? you can get a .nu for $65

    if they want to win...make it cheeper!
  • is that the cheepest avail?
  • If they can provide better service than Network Solutions which shouldn't be very hard they will make a killing.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"