January 10, 2008 | | Comments 4

Domain Tasting by the Big Companies including Network Solutions?

I’ve been involved in discussion lists for a long time as a member of the general assembly under ICANN, on working groups under the old DNSO, and on the GNSO mailing list. There have been a lot of discussions regarding domain tasting.

ICANN has had a lot of time to do something to stop domain tasting but they have chosen to “study” it and “talk” about it rather than do something about it.

There is a 5 day grace period when you register a domain name. You are allowe dto go back and change your mind about a domain name you registered during that time.

There are a lot of individual domain tasters and even large companies who register millions of domain names and take advantage of that grace period. They generate a webpage on each of them with some garbage content and monetize it with adsense.

If it makes money in that 5 day grace period, even a little bit of money, they keep the domain name and continue to profit from the clicks. If it doesn’t make enough money, they drop it. Then another taster grabs it and tries it for 5 days and so on and so on.

One of the biggest problems is that these domain tasters keep domains off the market that some legitimate business might want to use for their company and domain names that some individual user might want to use for their website.

Many of these domain names are also trademark violations but by the time a company finds out their trademark is being tasted and someone is profiting from it, it’s too late, the domain name may already be owned by a different domain taster.

When I say a legitimate business may want to use it, domain tasters will claim that what they are doing is legitimate. They can claim what they want. It is not illegal, but it is keeping millions of domain names off the market that could be used in a way that provides relevant content for users rather than tasters who are trying to intercept your traffic so they can get paid for it before someone gets to your website. They should be called domain leeches.

There are legitimate domain name speculators and they should not be seen as part of the domain name tasters group. legitimately buying a domain name that has good keywords in it that someone might want to buy at some point is like buying land that you might sell for a profit someday. These people actually pay for their domain names. Tasters don’t pay for 90% of the domain names they keep the rest of us from having.

it’s a very very sophisticated business. Don’t think of domain tasters as some guy who goes to a registrar and regiters a name, builds a web page and tests the name. These companies run scripts that register thousands of domain names at once, then have ready made templates with their adsense code in them and servers ready to serve these pages up to test them within minutes of registering the domain names.

By registering 100,000 domain names that make just 5 cents each per day, they make $5000 per day. Now assume they own a million domain names. So each domain name they keep off the market, they do so for that few cents while you try to register a decent domain name to make real money with and can’t get one.

It hurts the Internet economy overall. It harms legitimate business owners. it harms individual users who want a domain name and it hurts us all by adding more and more garbage content to the web. Those who claim it is a legitimate business know it isn’t, but they will justify it that way because ICANN has failed it’s duty to serve the users of the Internet by not taking action.

The only action I know of they have taken is to go to conferences in places like Las Vegas to talk about it and that were paid for by the domain tasters. Not that it would influence their decisions or lack of decision making any.

If you still think this is just a few rouge individuals that do domain tasting and not big companies causing big problems, read this;

Network Solutions Exploits I-CANN’s Five-Day Refund Rule to Hoard Domains
Posted by Sarah Bird, Esquire on >SEOmoz

A few days ago, I posted about >Dell’s lawsuit against a notorious domain-tasting network. In that case, the >domain-tasting network exploited I-CANN’s five-day-refund rule to park millions of domains without paying for them while simultaneously earning revenue from pay-per-click advertisements. (There were trademark issues in the case as well.)

Today, there are allegations flying around that Network Solutions, a very popular internet registrar, has been exploiting that same five-day-refund rule to park domains and then sell them at an increased fee. If the allegations are true, then Network Solutions was operating a very cunning business.

Not to mention a huge conflict of interest. testing domains to see if they have traffic then charging a premium price for selected domain names was not what registrars were intended to do by their charter with ICANN. But again, with registrars sitting on the ICANN board and in support groups that advise ICANN, nothing will be done about it. These loopholes that allow these practices will stay in place so the ICANN BoD can help out their friends.

Here’s how the scheme worked:

Network Solutions would track what domains people were searching for. With this actionable intelligence in hand, it would quickly purchase those domains and park them. When an interested party went back online to purchase the domain, they would discover that Network Solutions had already registered it. Of course, Network Solutions was willing to sell it to them for a fee. This fee was more expensive than other competing registrars typically offer. Alternatively, if the interested party did not come back online to purchase the domain within five days, Network Solutions would simply take advantage of I-CANN’s refund policy and void its own registration. No cash out of their pockets!

The only real solution to domain tasting is to eliminate the 5 day grace period. If you spend a whole $6.99 for a domain name at godaddy and then change your mind, you’re out a whole $6.99. BooHoo.

There is no real need for the grace period. For every one legitimate person dropping a domain name because they changed their mind, I’m betting there are 100,000 domain names that were “tasted” by the pros.

The only real solution to registrars who monitor the domain names you research and then register them so you have to purchase them at a higher price or even those registrars who use the tasting period so they can put certain domain name sup for auction is for ICANN to change the rules for being a registrar.

Don’t look for that to happen since registrars help make the rules.

The Rest of The Story about domain tasting here

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Filed Under: NameCritic


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4 Responses to “Domain Tasting by the Big Companies including Network Solutions?”

  1. [...] to domain tasting is to eliminate the 5-day grace period,” McElroy commented in a recent blog entry. “There is no real need for the grace period. For every one legitimate person dropping a [...]

  2. Ken says:

    In addition to the domain tasting that you mentioned. Other domain registrars such as Godaddy pick similar names based on registrations and moves them to a sister site. If later on you decide that you want the website or you made a mistake, you need to purchase the website for a fee of $1000 or more.
    This practice is highly unethical and equivalent to insider trading, and should be prosecuted.

  3. Well ICANN finally changed the add/grace period or AGP so that it will curtail many of the problems it created.

    My lawsuit against Network Solutions and ICANN was settled and NetSol no longer holds up domain names you searched in their whois for 5 days like they did before.

    So, if you fight hard enough, you can make small changes happen.

    I agree with you about domains being sold and auctioned by registrars. That’s another practice that needs to be stopped.

  4. [...] and ICANN over the controversial practice of domain tasting. The suit was initiated on behalf of Chris McElroy, a search engine optimization specialist who goes by the handle NameCritic. McElroy has long been an extremely vocal critic of ICANN and is a regular participant on the [...]

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