ICANN Finally Realizes Domain Tasting Is A Problem, Might Fix It Sometime This Decade

from the or-maybe-not dept

The practice of "domain tasting" (or "domain kiting" as it used to be called) has been a well-known problem for at least two years now. Since domain name registrars offer a five day grace period whereby you can buy a domain and return it saying you made a "mistake," scammers have been buying up every domain name imaginable, throwing ads up on the site for five days, seeing what kind of return it gets, and then tossing it back (without ever paying for it). In some cases, scammers have set up multiple shell corporations to keep renewing those names for 5 days at a time indefinitely, without ever having to pay a dime. When we first wrote about it in May of 2006, the estimate was that over 90% of new domain registrations were of this nature (though, some question that number). Either way, it's clearly a big issue. Yet, it's taken nearly two years just to get ICANN to acknowledge it's a problem. On top of that, they're merely discussing the problem, and may not take any action towards dealing with it for some time. As per usual with ICANN, expect lots of talk and little useful action.

In related scammy domain name news, apparently the very first domain name registrar, Network Solutions, has joined the ranks of scammy registrar sites that reveal the names you're searching to scammers who register them quickly. This, also, has been a well-known problem since at least 2006, though usually for less reputable whois sites. Most people felt you were okay if you researched the names at a reputable site like Network Solutions. Network Solutions has responded to these accusations by claiming this is for customer protection (talk about double speak). Effectively, NetSol's claim is that they're trying to prevent others from registering the domain you searched for, so they're holding it themselves (and making it more expensive than you can get anywhere else). Maybe ICANN will notice this activity sometime in early 2011, and try to put in place a solution sometime before 2020.

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  • identicon
    David King, 10 Jan 2008 @ 6:06am

    Sometimes if you wait a decade or two, problems solve themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lar3ry, 10 Jan 2008 @ 8:01am

    Underhanded and unethical

    Network Solutions is doing this to "protect" their customers, of course. However, if you browse a domain name that has been "protected" by Network Solutions in this manner, you will get an advertising page telling you that the domain is available. They apparently do not care if you are the person that searched for the domain or not... they have possession and they will sell it to the first person to pick it up.

    Can Network Solutions provide an explanation how selling the domain to ANYBODY is providing any protection to the person that made the original search?

    If it is not protecting the original searcher, then there is only one other explanation: they are protecting themselves as the recipient of the $35 for selling the domain name... in effect, they're simply holding the domain name hostage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fushta, 10 Jan 2008 @ 8:31am

    Don't search for the domain name first

    When I register domain names, I don't search and see if it's available first.

    I visit the site I wish to register to see what I get back. If I get a site not found type of message, I'm guessing it's available.

    Then I just register the name without doing a search first. If the site is actually taken, oh well. It's never been a problem for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chaucer Wells, 10 Jan 2008 @ 9:00am

    Domain hoarding is encouraged by the system

    What I have never understood is why the system is set up to encourage domain hoarding in the first place. I mean, if registrars can sell several hundred domain names for $2 each, they are essentially encouraging hoarding. Sort of like the US government selling mineral rights on public lands for pennies on the dollar. Except of course that domain hoarders don't actually USE the domains for anything except confusing the hell out of net users who foolishly expect a high-profile domain name to have actual content (sort of like when you go into a high rent office building you expect it to contain actual businesses rather than just a bunch of advertisements plastered on the wall). The internet world would benefit greatly if domain names were simply priced appropriately. And for god's sake get rid of the bulk discounts. Plow the extra money into anti-scammer and anti-spammer enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 11 Jan 2008 @ 9:40am

    place some restriction on catch-and-release

    Off the top of my head I see one possible solution as: if a site is "tested" it should then be unavailable for some period (5 days? a week?) after it is returned. This would prevent the sites from being "up" all the time, and is not a real hardship for someone forced to wait for a domain to become available (and you could always just talk to them to get it available sooner)

    Or: if a domain name is tested more than once in a certain time period, some portion of the fee is non-refundable (like $1) -- something where the casual user wouldn't care, but if you scale it to 73 (365/5) times per year it would at least costs someone _something_ and likely prevent this from being abused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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